NHS Examinations

Lots of people are entitled to free NHS-funded sight tests and an optical voucher

Dyer and Scott Opticians Clifton Bristol Portishead

Am I entitled to a free NHS sight test?

You qualify for a free NHS funded sight test if you are:

  • aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education
  • aged 60 or over
  • registered blind or partially sighted
  • diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • aged 40 or over and you are the parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a person diagnosed with glaucoma, or you have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma
  • eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher

You are also entitled to a free NHS sight test if:

  • you receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contribution based)
  • you receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • you receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you 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.

Am I entitled to an NHS optical voucher?

You may get help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education or
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher (your optician will advise you on your entitlement)

You may also get an NHS optical voucher if:

  • You receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contribution-based)
  • You receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.
  • You receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance.
  • You are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.
  • You 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.

You will be asked to show proof of your entitlement to optical vouchers to the optician or a member of our staff.

What should be in a standard private or NHS sight test?

The optometrist will:

  • ask you about any problems you may have with your eyes
  • ask you about your general health
  • ask you about any family history of eye problems
  • take details of any medical prescriptions, if available
  • ask you to read letters on a chart, with and without lenses
  • look at the inside and outside of your eye with a bright light
  • check whether you need spectacles and issue a prescription, if appropriate
  • make and keep notes about all these points
  • discuss the result with you
  • write to your doctor if there is a problem

The optometrist may also:

  • check the pressure in your eyes
  • check your peripheral (side) vision.

The optometrist might put drops in your eyes to enlarge your pupils, which can help him or her to see the back of your eyes better.

What is not in an NHS sight test?

An NHS test does not cover:

  • checking your contact lenses
  • testing your colour vision for a job
  • writing reports for a job application
  • issuing VDU reports for your employer
  • dealing with eye emergencies such as infections or grit in the eye
  • treating dry eyes
  • taking photographs of the inside or outside of your eyes
  • assessing and supplying low-vision aids
  • treating lazy eyes or squints, except with spectacles
  • offering refractive surgery counselling, including before and after assessments (this is surgery to correct long or short sight often known as laserĀ surgery).

The optometrist may offer you some of these at the same time as a sight test. If so, you would have to pay an extra fee. Some of the tests use new technology to give much better results than traditional methods. However, you do not have to have any extra tests if you do not wish to.