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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.

First published:
16 May 2022
Last updated:

NHS sight tests

Eligibility

You are entitled to free NHS sight test if you:

  • are under 16
  • are under the age of 19 years and receiving qualifying full-time education
  • are 60 or over
  • are required to wear a complex appliance (your optician can advise you about your entitlement)
  • are registered sight impaired or severely sight impaired in a register kept by a local authority
  • have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma or have been advised by an ophthalmologist to be predisposed to the development of glaucoma
  • are 40 or over and are the parent, brother, sister or child of a person who has been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • are under 18-years-old and in the care of a local authority (to whose maintenance a responsible local authority is contributing)
  • are a prisoner*
  • are uniocular (have sight in one eye only)
  • have a hearing impairment
  • have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa
  • have been clinically assessed as being at risk of developing eye disease

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.

*Prisoners

A prisoner in this context means a person who is detained in a prison, including a young offender institution, but is, at the time of receiving any primary ophthalmic service, on leave from that prison.

A prisoner may be allowed to leave prison for short periods towards the end of their sentence and extending eligibility for prisoners on leave is a means to initiate integration with the rest of open society, extending and democratising provisions wider members of the public are entitled to have.

Please note that the obtaining of a voucher for repair or replacement of an optical appliance will be conditional on the prisoner (on leave) meeting the eligibility criteria set for all individuals over the age of 16 in which the following two conditions must be met in full before a voucher is provided towards the cost of repair or replacement:

  • you would be entitled to a NHS voucher for glasses or contact lenses
  • the loss or damage was due to illness or disability

Wales general ophthalmic services (WGOS) (NHS sight test)

Effective from 20 October 2023 for 2023 to 2024.

£43.

Wales general ophthalmic services 2: eye examination service fee

Effective from 20 October 2023 for 2023 to 2024.

WGOS 2 (previously Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) Band 1): £70.
WGOS 2 (previously EHEW Band 2): £53.00.
WGOS 2 (previously EHEW Band 3): £26.00.

NHS domiciliary visits

Effective on or after 20 October 2023.

First and second patients: £38.27.
Third patient: £9.58.

Help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses

Optical vouchers

Updates have been made to the NHS optical vouchers and supplements set out in the National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) Regulations 1997 with effect from 20 October 2023.

You are entitled to receive an NHS optical voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are under 16
  • are under the age of 19 years and receiving qualifying full-time education
  • are required to wear a complex appliance (your optician can advise on your entitlement)
  • under 18-years-old and in the care of a local authority (to whose maintenance a responsible local authority is contributing)
  • are a prisoner

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.

Voucher for supply: type of optical appliance

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

Optical vouchers
 VoucherMaximum amount
Single visionA£39.10
£59.30
C£86.90
D£196
BifocalE£67.50
F£85.60
G£111.20
H£215.50
Hospital eye departmentI£200.80
J (per lens)£57
Supplements to vouchers (where clinically necessary)
Type Maximum amount
PrismP Single Vision£12.60
P Bifocal£15.40
Tint/PhotochromicT Single Vision£4.40
T Bifocal£4.90
Special framesper 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 frameRepair or replacement of side frameRepair 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 haveWhere 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 the parent, brother, sister or child of a person with glaucomaan official document to prove your date of birth (see above)NHS medical card (see above)
registered blind or partially sightedcertificate of registration as blind or partially sightedcontact your local authority
suffering from diabetes
  • repeat prescriptions card
  • out-patients appointment card
  • record of blood sugar readings
  • your GP, or your 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 glaucomastatement that you are a glaucoma suffereryour GP or hospital eye clinic
considered to be at risk of glaucomastatement that you are at risk of developing glaucomayour GP or hospital eye clinic
are a prisonerstatement from Prison Services (LICENCE)statement from Prison Services (LICENCE)
are uniocular (have sight in one eye only)statement that you are uniocularyour GP or hospital eye clinic
have a hearing impairmentstatement that you are hearing impairedyour GP or hospital eye clinic
have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosastatement that you suffer with retinitis pigmentosayour GP or hospital eye clinic
have been clinically assessed as being at risk of developing eye diseasestatement that you are at risk of developing eye diseaseyour 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 haveWhere 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)

under the age of 19 years and receiving qualifying full-time educationA 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 studentChild Benefit (gov.uk)
a prisonerstatement from Prison Services (LICENCE)statement from Prison Services (LICENCE)
uniocularstatement that you are uniocularyour GP or hospital eye clinic
have a hearing impairmentstatement that you are hearing impairedyour GP or hospital eye clinic
have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosastatement that you have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosayour GP or hospital eye clinic
have been clinically assessed as being at risk of developing eye diseasestatement that you are at risk of developing eye diseaseyour GP or hospital eye clinic
you or your partner is getting income supportYour income support order book or an entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus officeIncome support (gov.uk)
getting Universal CreditAn entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus officeDirectgov (gov.uk)
or your partner is getting Income-based Jobseeker's AllowanceAn entitlement letter from your Jobcentre Plus officeIf 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, pension credit or guarantee creditYour order book, an entitlement letter from your Jobcentre plus office 
or your partner is getting tax credits and meeting qualifying conditionsYou 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
are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2W certificate)HC2W certificateMake a claim using form HC1W obtainable from your Jobcentre Plus office or by calling 0345 603 1108
are named on a valid NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3W certificate)HC3W certificateMake 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 (Rydym yn croesawu galwadau’n Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh).

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.