NHS Entitlement

NHS eye care services are suspended for all but urgent, essential or emergency care, pending further announcements by the NHS.

You are entitled to a free sight test, paid for by the NHS, if you are normally resident in the UK, due for an eye examination and:

  • You are under 16 years of age
  • you are 16, 17 or 18 years of age and in FULL time education
  • you are aged 60 or over
  • you have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • you are 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • an ophthalmologist has advised you that your are at risk of glaucoma
  • you are registered blind or partially sighted
  • you have been certified sight impaired or severely sight impaired
  • you have been prescribed complex lenses
  • you are a prisoner on leave from prison

if you:

  • receive Income Support
  • receive Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not Contribution-based)
  • receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • are awarded Universal Credit
  • are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help

How often can I have an NHS Sight Test?

The NHS only pays for sight tests that are considered clinically necessary Your optometrist will recommend how often you should have your eyes tested. This will normally be every two years
In some circumstances, your optometrist may recommend more frequent NHS sight tests. For example, if you are:

40 or over and have a family history of glaucoma
70 or over

Paying for a sight test

You will have to pay for a sight test, for example:

If you want to have a sight test more often than your optometrist considers clinically necessary

If you are not entitled to a free NHS sight test

If you think that your sight has changed before your next test is due or you are having trouble with your eyes, you can request an earlier test

What if I pay for a sight test?

After you pay for a sight test, you are not eligible for a free NHS sight test until a suitable period has passed. This is usually two years.

If you are eligible for help with NHS costs under the NHS low income scheme, you can claim some or all of the cost of the sight test for you, your partner and your children


The NHS demands that we see evidence of eligibility although we only require to see evidence of age on the first occasion.

The time between examinations varies according to age and medical considerations, this may be reduced on clinical grounds by the optometrist but if you are not due for a check then you may have to pay for a private examination.

Retinal photography at the practice incurs an additional fee of £15

At all eye examinations we request that you bring along any spectacles that you use and details of medication together with evidence of age and/or eligibility where appropriate.