Remember that some optometrists are independent prescribers too

Would you be surprised if a patient handed you a prescription written by an optometrist? Would you know what to do? Optometrists tell us that some pharmacists do not realise that some optometrists are qualified as independent prescribers.

Optometrist independent prescribers can prescribe any licensed medicine (except for controlled drugs or medicines for parenteral administration) for conditions affecting the eye, and the tissues surrounding the eye.

While many optometrist independent prescribers work in the hospital eye service, others work in community practice, and you may find yourself dispensing medicines prescribed by a community optometrist qualified in independent prescribing. They could be prescribing for a wide range of eye conditions, ranging from dry eye to acute anterior uveitis.

In Scotland, all optometrist independent prescribers can write an NHS prescription, but the practice is less widespread in other UK nations, where prescribing is more likely to be private.

To prescribe, optometrist independent prescribers must be on the General Optical Council’s specialist register. You can check an optometrist’s registration and prescribing qualification DipTp (IP) at:


Josephine Mullin, director of policy and strategy, College of Optometrists

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2019, Vol 302, No 7925;302(7925):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206473

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