How much is an eye test? Am I entitled to a free test?

More people than you might think are eligible for a free NHS eye test, and you could be one of them. Understand the importance of regular eye tests, the cost if you have to pay, and the NHS vouchers available for prescription glasses and contact lenses.

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How much is an eye test? Am I entitled to a free test?
  • Millions of people in the UK are eligible for free eye care under the NHS
  • 65% of the members of Glaucoma UK stated that a free eye test revealed this symptomless condition
  • Eligibility for free NHS eye tests includes the over 60s, those with eye conditions and people on low income
  • The NHS helps make regular eye care affordable for older people

Eye tests: FAQs

  • How much is an eye test in the UK?

    An eye test conducted by a qualified optometrist on your local high street will cost between £20 and £30. All eye tests are free in Scotland. In addition, some opticians will offer free eye tests as part of a promotion if you buy prescription glasses or contact lenses. You should get your eyes tested every two years.

  • Are eye tests free at Asda?

    Eye tests at Asda cost £22 as of January 2023, but if you are entitled to a free NHS eye test, then you can use your NHS entitlement at Asda. From time to time, Asda runs promotions offering free eye tests. If you have paid for an eye test at Asda and think you are eligible for an NHS-funded eye test, then you can claim the cost back from the NHS, providing you have proof of payment.

  • How much is a Vision Express eye test?

    A standard adult eye test at Vision Express costs £25 as of January 2023 or is free if you are eligible for an NHS optical voucher. Vision Express uses highly sophisticated optical testing technology to spot early signs of retinal eye diseases and wider eye health issues. Some stores also offer OCT 3D eye scan equipment for detailed and accurate retinal imaging.

  • How much is a Specsavers eye test?

    The cost of a Specsavers eye test varies but is usually between £20 and £25. If you are eligible for an NHS-funded eye test, you will pay nothing for the assessment but will need to cover the cost of any prescription glasses or contact lenses. If you have a voucher for prescription eye care, you can put this towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

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Regular eye examinations are essential in later life to maintain good vision and provide early detection against many treatable eye conditions that eye conditions which will ultimately limit your sight. Some people are entitled to a free NHS eye test. Free check-ups and eye tests may depend on age, your working or income status or whether or not you have any existing eye conditions.

Who is entitled to a free eye test?

You could be eligible for a free NHS eye test if you meet certain criteria or have specific health problems. These include:

  • You are aged 60 or over
  • You are aged 40 or over and have a family history of glaucoma (brother, sister or parent with glaucoma)
  • You are registered as severely sight-impaired, blind or partially sighted
  • You suffer from Diabetes
  • You have glaucoma
  • An ophthalmologist considers you at risk of glaucoma

You can have a free NHS sight test and an optical voucher towards the cost of your glasses if you are aged 16, 17, or 18 and are in full-time education or if you or your partner is receiving income support. In addition, there are other benefits-based entitlements, including those who receive income-based jobseeker’s allowance and if you or your partner receive pension credit. If you require complex lenses, you are entitled to a free NHS sight test and an NHS voucher towards their cost.

NHS voucher values

The value of an NHS optical voucher depends upon whether you have a clinical need for prisms or tints in your glasses or the strength of the contact lenses you require. Vouchers typically range from £39.10 to £215.50.

Vouchers A, B, C and D cover glasses with single-vision lenses and depending upon strength, there is a scale of values starting at £39.10 up to £196.00. Vouchers E, F, G and H cover bifocal lenses, which are glasses with two distinct optical powers. These vouchers start at £67.50 and increase to an upper limit of "£215.50 depending upon the individual prescription. Voucher I covers glasses prescribed by NHS trusts that do not fall within any of the preceding categories, and this voucher has a value of £200.80. Voucher J is a lower-value voucher of £57 for contact lenses following a prescription issued by an NHS Trust or NHS Foundation Trust.

If you have an NHS voucher, you can go to any optician, provided they accept NHS optical vouchers. The voucher may only be part payment towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses; if there is a difference, you will need to meet the additional cost.

The importance of regular eye tests

The health of your eyes is a priority as you age. Regular eye tests help spot those eye conditions that present without symptoms like glaucoma and will also check for cataracts and diseases like Hypertensive Retinopathy which is associated with high blood pressure.

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