The AIO is the only independent professional body that is dedicated to representing Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. We were founded over 60 years ago and there has never been a greater need for strong representation for Independents than today.


  • We lobby on behalf of Independents with Government and other Stakeholders
  • We have a clear set of policies on which we lobby on behalf of the Independent sector.
  • We promote the new ‘Eye Promise’ quality mark for Independents, the recognised sign for excellence in eye health care in local communities.
  • We promote the Practice Support Network (PSN) with Myers La Roche, NEG, Eyeplan and Specs Network which is designed to help people into Independent practice, support those who have recently entered the sector, and assist those wishing to retire with succession planning.
  • We respond to consultations and meet and speak regularly to the GOC, The College and other key optical stakeholders.
  • We are engaging with various stakeholders and interested groups in respect of the proposed introduction of apprenticeships in optometry. With A significant majority of AIO members opposed to this we are proposing that the whole initiative is shelved
  • We are invited to participate in various GOC Strategic reviews, most recently on Qualifications and Training and Standards for Businesses.
  • Alongside the BCLA we have put in place a reporting mechanism with the GOC that is designed to help outlaw the illegal sale of contact lenses
  • We offer members a suite of insurance products tailored for Independent practice

A general insurance policy from AXA covering all the non-PI risks in a practice

A Cyber risks and Directors and Officers policy

An income protection policy from PG Mutual with a Capital account that works like an investment

  • We have a student’s awareness programme that includes speaking at student events at the main universities to promote the Independent sector to them.
  • We are lobbying for a fundamental review of the DVLA sight test programme
  • We challenge optical stakeholders and other bodies on matters which concern the Independent sector.
  • We arrange conferences and other events for our members delivering relevant CET at very attractive prices.
  • We survey our members on topical issues to make sure we are representing our members’ views.
  • We issue press releases and offer media commentary and interviews to make sure our views are heard.
  • We issue regular newsletters and bulletins.
  • We arrange special offers from suppliers for our members


  • We will speak to all relevant stakeholders to position Independents appropriately in the local healthcare community.
  • We will continue to campaign for the GOS to limit the remuneration for the standard eye examination to the amount charged by the contractor for a private eye examination. In other words – no taxpayer subsidy for ‘free’ eye tests
  • We will continue to push for effective policing of the illegal sale of contact lenses
  • We will issue Freedom of Information requests to identify what is the real cost of cutting corners on Government contracts.


  • We orchestrated a bid for the DVLA sight test contract in 2019 and are likely to challenge the tender process and award of the contract to Specsavers in 2020.
  • We are a nice bunch of people and we like to have fun when we can!