Opticians

How to access services
Will I need to pay for these services?
Additional information
Primary Eye-care Assessment and Referral Service (PEARS)
 

How to access services

Opticians carry out tests on your eyes in order to check the quality of your sight and look for signs of eye disease which may need treatment from a doctor or eye surgeon.  They also prescribe and fit spectacles (glasses) and contact lenses.  They can give you advice on types of lens, such as single vision or bifocal, and help you to choose frames.

There are three types of optician: Optometrists (also called ophthalmic opticians), Ophthalmic Medical Practitioner (OMP) and dispensing opticians.

  • Optometrists - carry out eye tests to check the quality of your sight, look for signs of eye disease which may need treatment from a doctor or eye surgeon and prescribe and fit spectacles and contact lenses.
  • Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners - are medical doctors who are also trained to carry out eye examinations and prescribe spectacles.
  • Dispensing Opticians - fit and sell spectacles, but do not test eyes.  They can give you advice on types of lens, such as single vision or bifocal, and help you to choose frames.

No referral or registration is required; contact your local optician to book an appointment or visit the NHS Choices website to search for a local optician in your area.

Will I need to pay for these services?

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

  • are under 16 years old
  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • are 60 years of age or over
  • are a diagnosed glaucoma patient
  • have been told by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma
  • are 40 years of age or over and are a parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a diagnosed glaucoma patient
  • have been diagnosed as diabetic
  • are registered as severely sight-impaired, blind, sight-impaired or partially sighted
  • need complex lenses
  • are someone whose sight test is carried out through the hospital eye department as part of the management of your eye condition
  • are getting, or your partner gets:
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • are entitled to or are named on a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate
  • are named on a valid HC2 certificate

Partial help: if you are named on a valid HC3 certificate you might get some help towards the cost of a private sight test.

NHS optical vouchers

You can get vouchers towards the costs of spectacles or contact lenses if you:

  • are under 16 years old
  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • need complex lenses
  • are getting, or your partner gets:
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • are entitled to or are named on a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate
  • are named on a valid HC2 certificate

Partial help: if you are named on a valid HC3 certificate you might get some help.

If your spectacles or contact lenses cost more than your voucher value, you will have to pay the difference.

NHS vouchers for repair or replacement of spectacles or contact lenses

You can get vouchers if you are under 16 years old.  If you are 16 years of age or older, conditions apply.

Additional Information

For more detailed information about getting help with health costs, please follow the links on the right side of this page.  Leaflets are also available at Jobcentre Plus offices or NHS hospitals, and possibly from your doctor, dentist or optician.

Useful Links

For information on help with health costs (for sight tests, glasses and contact lenses) and optical vouchers visit NHS Choices.