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Patient having their eyes tested1


Opticians carry out tests on your eyes to check the quality of your eye sight and look for signs of eye disease, which may need treatment from a doctor or eye surgeon. They also prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses.

Eye-care professionals who work in opticians’ practices can be optometrists, ophthalmic medical practitioners or dispensing opticians: 

  • optometrists - also called ophthalmic opticians - who 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 glasses and contact lenses
  • ophthalmic medical practitioners, who are medical doctors trained to carry out eye examinations and prescribe glasses
  • dispensing opticians, who fit glasses and contact lenses, 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 for your glasses. 

Am I entitled to a free NHS sight test?

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

  • under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • aged 60 or over       
  • registered blind or partially sighted
  • diagnosed as having diabetes or glaucoma
  • aged 40 or over with a first-degree relative with glaucoma, or you have been  advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma or prescribed a complex lens.

You are also entitled to a free NHS sight test if you (or your partner):

  • receive Income Support or Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (not   contribution based)
  • receive Pension Credit Guarantee 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 be entitled to a free test.

You will be asked to show proof of your entitlement to free NHS sight tests.

How do I find an NHS optician?

To find an optician near to where you live please enter your postcode in the 
Find a local service search. 

How do I complain about my treatment?

If you wish to make a complaint about the care or service you have received, contact the person responsible for complaints at the opticians. You can make your complaint verbally to the opticians or in writing and you should receive a written response from the opticians within ten working days.