Can I have an eye test at home?

Even if you have good vision, the National Institute on Ageing recommends an annual dilated eye exam from age 50. At-home eye tests bring vision care to people who can’t travel. Home visits may be free alongside an NHS-funded eye test, providing complete eye care at home or in a care home.

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Can I have an eye test at home?
  • Home eye tests hit the headlines during Covid and are a boon for people who can’t travel to the opticians
  • There are NHS-funded free eye tests at home for those with certain mental and physical health conditions
  • The visit and eye test may be free if you qualify under NHS regulations and many opticians offer discounts
  • Access to good eye care for older people is guaranteed with home visits and eye tests

Home eye tests: FAQs

  • How can I check my eyesight at home?

    There are manual home vision tests and computer assessments using specific software to help you check your sight; however, home testing doesn't replicate the detailed eye examination that a qualified optician provides, so the results will not be as accurate. An ophthalmologist looks at overall eye health and doesn’t just assess your vision.

  • Does the NHS do home eye tests?

    Some people are eligible for an NHS-funded home eye test if they have certain mental or physical illnesses, health conditions or disabilities. So even if you have to pay for the visit, you may still be entitled to a free NHS eye test at home.

  • How much is a home eye test?

    The charge for a home eye test is around £50-£60, which usually includes the eye examination and the visit fee. Some opticians will offer a reduced-cost private test for a second person (spouse) if one person in the household qualifies for a free NHS test.

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Covid revolutionised some aspects of healthcare provision, and now many opticians are offering appointments in the comfort of your home. This is usually a paid service, but you may qualify for an NHS-funded eye test at home if you cannot visit an optician due to specific mental or physical disabilities or health conditions.

Who qualifies for an NHS-funded eye test at home?

Live in your own home and cannot leave the house unaccompanied because of mental or physical illness or disability. You may have the correct eligibility for an NHS-funded home eye test. The same principle applies if you live in a residential or care home and cannot attend opticians on your own due to illness or disability.

If you are over 60 and live in England, Scotland, or Wales, you are already entitled to a free eye test through the NHS at your local high street opticians. If you satisfy the criteria for a free home test, an optician may be able to visit you in your house with both the test and visit at no cost.

What happens in an eye test at home?

Home eye test appointments are booked with an optician in the usual way. The optometrist will begin by asking general questions as part of an overall health check. Some conditions, like diabetes, can affect your vision.

Your optician will then carry out several tests to assess your vision and look at the overall health of your eyes by checking for certain eye conditions. The vision test is similar to the one you would have in a typical high street store.

The optometrist will conduct an eye pressure test using a handheld tonometer. Intraocular pressure is a way of assessing whether you are at risk of developing glaucoma. The optician will also examine the inside of your eyes, called a dilated eye test, using eye drops so they can see the inside of the eyes more easily.

Another vital part of the eye exam is assessing how your eyes move and work together. This is important to avoid eye strain or double vision. The optometrist will also use a retinoscope, which shines a powerful light into the eyes to check for any refractive errors. This helps assess the correct prescription for your new glasses and is useful for people who may not be able to respond accurately or clearly due to specific health conditions. Reading from a letter chart or testing chart at a distance is another tool to check visual acuity. You may also need to wear a trial frame to test your sight with lenses of different strengths.

The eye test you have at home is the same comprehensive eye test you would receive from the opticians in-store. If there are any concerns about the health of your eyes, your optician can refer you to your GP or an ophthalmologist.

Choosing new glasses

You will be able to choose new glasses during your optician’s home visit if your current prescription needs updating. Most opticians take a range of frames; you can also look at other designs online. A second home visit appointment can be arranged for your optician to fit the new glasses.

A free home eye test plus a free home visit

In addition to a free home visit, some people will also be eligible for an NHS-funded eye test. There are lots of different criteria applicable to all ages, but for older age groups, these include people who are:

  • 60 or over
  • Registered as partially sighted or blind
  • Already diagnosed with glaucoma or diabetes
  • Advised by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) that they’re at risk of glaucoma
  • Eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher

Many people are also entitled to a free eye test because they claim benefits. Your optician will know of all of the eligibility criteria and will be able to advise if you qualify for a free home visit or a free eye test. There are also NHS vouchers available towards the cost of prescription eye care.

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