Home Eye Exams » Free Exams

Where to get a free eye test and free glasses

girl having a free eye exam

Good vision is a precious gift. It's also a daily necessity.

If you can't afford routine eye tests and prescription glasses, the NHS offers free eye tests for all under 19's in full-time education and those most in need. What is covered and not covered is quite a complex area and depends on a number of factors such as your age, job status, but also where you live in the UK. Your optician will be happy to talk through your entitlement.

Free NHS eye tests and optical vouchers

Find out if you're entitled to a free NHS sight test or an optical voucher to reduce the cost of glasses or contact lenses. If you're not eligible for NHS-funded sight tests or optical vouchers, you'll have to cover the costs yourself.

Free NHS eye tests

You're entitled to a free NHS sight test if you:

  • are under 16

  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education

  • are 60 or over

  • are registered as partially sighted or 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

  • free NHS eye examinations for all were introduced in Scotland on 1 April 2006.

You're also entitled if you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you're entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice), you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less

  • 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 get help with the cost of a private sight test.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

NHS optical vouchers

You're entitled to an optical voucher for help towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are under 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're also entitled if you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you're entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice), you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less

  • 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 get help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

NHS complex lens vouchers

To be eligible, your lenses need to be either -10/+10 dioptres or more, or prism-controlled bifocal lenses.

Complex lens vouchers are a contribution towards the cost of these lenses – currently £14.60 for single vision lenses and £37.40 for bifocal lenses.

The vouchers are only available to those who meet the clinical criteria and are not eligible for one of the main optical vouchers. You should consult your optician if you have any questions on eligibility.

Mobile sight test

If you're eligible for a free NHS sight test, you may also be entitled to a mobile sight test. This is when an optometrist comes to visit you:

  • at home – if you're unable to leave home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability

  • at a residential or care home – if you're a resident and unable to leave the home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability

  • at a day centre – if you cannot get a sight test at an optician's practice because of physical or mental illness or disability, or have difficulties communicating your health needs unaided.

Find an optician near you, call them to talk about your eligibility for financial support, and then make an appointment.

Find Eye Doctor

Schedule an exam

Find Eye Doctor