by Lucy Ross

Who is entitled to a free eye test?


The NHS recommend you have an eye examination biennially.

(Every two years.)

Depending on where you live and your circumstances, this service can be free of charge.

Wherever you are in the UK, this article should hopefully clear things up.


Jump to: Are eye tests free in Scotland?  |  Are eye tests free in Northern Ireland?  |  Are eye tests free in Wales?  |  Are eye tests free in England?  |  Who qualifies for a free eye test?  |  Do I qualify for NHS optical vouchers?  |  Do employers have to pay for eye tests?  |  How much is the voucher for glasses worth?  |  Do students get free eye tests?



Are eye tests free in Scotland?

In Scotland, NHS eye tests are free of charge.

This version of eye test examines more than just the condition of your eyes. This is a more detailed eye examination, designed to detect signs of closely related eye conditions which may have otherwise gone undetected.

It is recommended that you attend an eye test at least once every two years.

See Optometry-Scotland for more information.




Are eye tests free in Northern Ireland?

Depending on the optician, eye tests in Northern Ireland costs around £20/£25.

There are exceptions to this if you meet certain criteria.

  • If you’re under the age of 16
  • If you over the age of 60
  • If you’re sight impaired or severely sight impaired.
  • If you have diabetes
  • If you are over the age of 40 and you or a member of your close-family have been diagnosed with glaucoma.

For more details, head to




Are eye tests free in Wales?

Eye tests in an opticians in Wales can cost between £20 and £30. Eye tests at home cost in the region of £50.

Eye tests can be free if you qualify for the conditions below.

  • If you are under the age of 16;
  • You’re in full-time education and aged 16, 17 or 18;
  • You are aged 60 years old or older.
  • You have been diagnosed with glaucoma.
  • Are aged 40 or over and are the parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a diagnosed glaucoma patient, or
  • Have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma;
  • Have been diagnosed as diabetic;
  • Are registered blind or partially sighted;
  • Need complex lenses;


For more details, head to




Are eye tests free in England?

NHS eye tests in England are not free.

Depending on the optician, an eye test can cost around £25. It’s a good idea to contact your local optician for a more precise costs if you are planning on having your eyes tested.

You should seek to have your eyes tested at least every two years to prevent undetected eye conditions.

There are certain criteria which can make you eligible for free eye tests. See below for details or click here.





You qualify for a free NHS sight test if you:

  • are under the age of 16
  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • are 60 years old or older
  • are registered as partially sighted or registered blind
  • have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • are 40 or over and your mother, father, sibling or child has been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • have been advised by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) that you’re at risk of glaucoma
  • are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – your optician can advise you about your entitlement


You also qualify for a free NHS sight test if you:





Do I qualify for NHS optical voucher?

Via the NHS, you’re entitled to an optical voucher for aid towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are under the age of 16
  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – your optician can advise you about your entitlement


You also qualify for an optical voucher if you:




Do employers have to pay for eye tests?

If you regularly work with DSE (display screen equipment) you are entitled to request support from your employer towards eye test fees.

DSE can include computer monitors, laptops, tablets and smart-phones.

According to the fifth regulation of the DSE rules, it is mandatory that employers must provide support towards eye tests/exams whether you’re a current or new employee who uses DSE for more than one hour per working day.

Generally, you’ll be expected to pay for your eye test up-front which will later be reimbursed by your employer. Eye tests/exams should be paid for in-full by the employer under DSE regulations.

Where the eye test occurs can be determined by the employer in order to achieve a good level of eye care.

It is possible for eye tests to be carried out on-site but as a member of staff, you are perfectly entitled to have your eye examination carried out elsewhere.

Click here for more information.




How much is the NHS voucher for glasses worth?

There are ten different increments to NHS optical vouchers.

These vouchers are graded at different values between £39.10 up to £215.50 and labelled from ‘A’ to ‘J.

Values for these vouchers are subject to changes so it’s best you check the specific values of these vouchers via the NHS website.


How much is an eye test on the NHS?

Eye tests cost the NHS between £30 and £40.

This fee is covered by the fee charged by opticians unless you’re entitled to a free test.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a free eye test via the criteria we have written about above.

Click here to jump back up to the criteria




Do students get free eye tests?

Outside of Scotland, students who are 16,17 or 18 in full-time education are eligible for free eye tests.

This is a valuable service available to students in their early years of adult education.

Commonly, eye conditions can hinder learning scenarios such as lecture halls where close and distanced reading are regularly required.

To validate that you are a student, you’re student card is usually sufficient. However, you should ensure this method will be sufficient prior to attending your eye exam.



Lucy Ross: co-founder  |   I’d appreciate it if you’d shared this article using click the automatic Twitter button below. 

If you’ve never had your eyes tested, you should check out our explanation about what happens step-by-step. You might find it useful to know what actually happens. Click here to check it out.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found it helpful.



Lucy Ross
Lucy Ross

Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.

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