The professional body for Dispensing Opticians in the UK is the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO). Founded in 1986, ABDO seeks to maintain and develop the practice of ophthalmic dispensing to the highest standards through the professional conduct and competence of its members for the benefit of the public. It also aims to support, protect and advance the character, status and interests of Dispensing Opticians, to encourage suitable standards of education in dispensing optics and establish, continue and adjudicate a system of qualifying and higher examinations. ABDO sets the examination syllabus and awards a Fellowship Diploma (FBDO) that enables successful candidates to register with the General Optical Council (GOC) upon qualification. The ABDO qualification is approved by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) at level 6.
It offers a wide and varied range of benefits and support services to its members, including advice, guidelines and the provision of meaningful and relevant methods of CET (Continuing Education and Training). ABDO currently represents over 5,300 qualified Dispensing Opticians in the United Kingdom, (200 overseas), some 2,000 students worldwide, and over 600 Associate members.
In 2000 ABDO established the ABDO College at Godmersham, near Canterbury, for the purpose of training Dispensing Opticians to the highest standards. The ABDO College works in conjunction with Canterbury Christ Church University to provide the Foundation Degree course in Ophthalmic Dispensing.