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Find out whether you are entitled to a free NHS sight test and help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

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First published:
23 September 2020
Last updated:

NHS sight tests

You are entitled to free NHS sight test if you:

  • are under 16
  • are 16,17 or 18 and in full time education
  • are 60 or over
  • 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 are at risk of glaucoma
  • are registered blind or partially sighted
  • need complex lenses (your optician can advise you about your entitlement)
  • your sight test is done by a hospital eye department as part of the management of your eye condition

You are also entitled if:

  • you or your partner (including civil partner) receive certain benefits 
  • you are under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving certain benefits
  • you have a low income

Use the NHS online checker to see what help you can get.

Help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses

You can get NHS vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are under 16
  • 16,17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • need complex lenses (your optician can advise on your entitlement)

You are also entitled if:

  • you or your partner (including civil partner) receive certain benefits 
  • you are under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving certain benefits
  • you have a low income

Use the NHS online checker to see what help you can get.

Maximum amount you can claim per pair of glasses or contact lenses:

Optical vouchers
  Voucher Maximum amount 
Single vision A £39.10
  £59.30
  C £86.90
  D £196
Bifocal E £67.50
  F £85.60
  G £111.20
  H £215.50
Hospital eye department I £200.80
  J (per lens) £57
Supplements to vouchers (where clinically necessary)
Type    Maximum amount
Prism P Single Vision £12.60
  P Bifocal £15.40
Tint/Photochromic T Single Vision £4.40
  T Bifocal £4.90
Special frames per frame up to £64.20

Help with the cost of repairing or replacing glasses or contact lenses

You can get NHS vouchers for repair or replacement of glasses and contact lenses if you are under 16.

If you are 16 or over you may be entitled to a voucher towards the cost of repair or replacement if your local health board agrees that:

  • the loss or damage was due to illness  and
  • you can't get any help through a warranty, insurance or after sales service and
  • you would be entitled to an NHS voucher for glasses or contact lenses

If in doubt, contact your local health board.

This does not apply to disposable contact lenses.

Voucher values for repair and replacement of frames:

Voucher     

Repair or replacement of front frame

Repair or replacement of side frame Repair of replacement of whole frame
All vouchers £12.45 £7.35 £14.80

Small frame supplement of special facial characteristics supplement:

Repair or replacement of: Voucher value                 
Front of frame £57.00
Side of frame £30.80
Whole of frame £64.80
Contact lens replacement £57.00

How to prove that you are entitled to help with the cost of NHS optical services

You can get free NHS sight tests if you are: The proof you need to have: Where and how to get proof:
Age 60 or over

Any official document showing your name and date-of-birth such as:

  • a birth certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • passport
  • travel concession card
  • driving license
Contact your local health board to get a new NHS medical card.
Age 40 or over and and the parent, brother, sister or child of a person with glaucoma An official document to prove your date of birth (see above) NHS medical card (see above)
Registered blind or partially sighted Certificate of registration as blind or partially sighted. Contact your local authority.
Suffering from diabetes
  • repeat prescriptions card
  • out-patients appointment card
  • record of blood sugar readings
  • your GP, or you hospital diabetic, or eye clinic
  • your repeat prescription or outpatient card should show you are attending a diabetic clinic on a regular basis.
Suffering from glaucoma Statement that you are a glaucoma sufferer. Your GP or hospital eye clinic
Considered to be at risk of glaucoma Statement that you are at risk of developing glaucoma. Your GP or hospital eye clinic

Sight tests and optical vouchers

You can get a free NHS sight test and an optical voucher if you are: The proof you need to have: Where and how to get proof
Aged under 16

Any official document showing your name and date-of-birth such as:

  • child benefit order book
  • NHS medical card
  • passport
  • birth certificate
  • travel concession card

 


Child Benefit (gov.uk)

Aged 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education A current Child Benefit order book, or evidence of age as above and a letter or other document from your school, college or university stating that you are a full-time student. Child Benefit (gov.uk)
You or your partner is getting income support Your income support order book or an entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus office. Income support (gov.uk)
Universal Credit An entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus office. Directgov (gov.uk)
Or your partner is getting Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance An entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus office. If payments are made into your bank or building society, you can obtain proof in the form of an entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus office.
Or your partner is getting Minimum Income Guarantee or Pension Credit guarantee credit Your order book, an entitlement letter from your Jobcentre plus office.  
Or your partner is getting tax credits and meeting qualifying conditions You are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate. If you are eligible for free treatment, you will be sent a certificate.
Named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2W certificate) HC2W certificate Make a claim using form HC1W obtainable from your Jobcentre Plus office or by calling 0345 603
Named on a valid NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3W certificate) HC3W certificate Make a claim using form HC1W obtainable from your Jobcentre Plus office or by calling 0345 603 1108. You may also be able to get one from your local hospital, dentist, optician or doctor.

Claim a refund for a sight test

Ask the person who tests your sight for a receipt that shows that you paid for the test and the date of payment. 

Complete a HC5W(O) refund form. Make sure you put the date of your sight test on it.  The form tells you what to do next.

You can request a printed copy of this form via email or by calling the publications order line on 0345 603 1108.

Claim a refund for glasses and contact lenses

To claim a refund, ask for receipt showing how much you paid and the date.

Complete a HC5W(O) refund form. Make sure you enclose your optical prescription and your receipt when you send it off. The form tells you what to do. 

The maximum refund you can get back will be the voucher value which matches your prescription.

If you have already used a voucher towards the cost of your glasses or lenses you cannot get a refund (unless it was only a complex lens voucher). You cannot claim a refund for the difference between the voucher value and the actual cost of your glasses or lenses.

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