Opticians and eye tests

Our eyes rarely hurt when something is wrong with them, so having regular eye tests is important to help detect potentially harmful conditions.

How often should I visit an optician?

The NHS recommends that you should get your eyes tested every two years (more often if advised by your eye specialist).

How do I find an optician?

You can visit any optician that you wish, you do not need to live in a specific area. You need to call them or pop in and ask to make an appointment for an eye test.

What will happen when I visit the optician?

When you visit an optician for an eye test, you’ll be examined by someone who is trained to recognise abnormalities and conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma. Opticians will prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. If necessary, they will refer you to a GP or a hospital eye clinic for further investigations. 

What happens after I have an eye test?

Following an eye test your opticians is legally required to provide you with your prescription or a statement setting out that you have been referred for a further test. If you need glasses you do not necessarily have to buy them from the optician who does your eye test – you can take your prescription and shop around if you want.

What do I have to pay?

You are entitled to a free NHS eye test if you are between 16-18 years old and in full time education.

You also qualify for a free NHS sight test if you:

  • Get income support
  • Get benefits like Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance
  • Get income-based employment and support allowance
  • Get Tax Credits and meet the criteria
  • Have a low income and are named on a valid NHS HC2 Certificate for full help with health costs

You can get a voucher to help with the cost of your glasses if you are 16-18 yrs old and in full time education, the amount you receive depends on your prescription.

For more information on NHS eye tests and eligibility visit NHS eye test and optical vouchers.