seeing clearly

A clearer guide to understanding vision, opticians and glasses

Free eye tests and how to get them

There are a number of ways to get your eye tests paid for, depending on your circumstances. Certain people are entitled to free eye tests through the NHS (See www.eyecarevouchers.co.uk/Employer/Pages/corporateeyecare.aspx and www.moneyweek.com/personal-finance/how-to-cut-the-cost-of-eyecare-96833.aspx.)

If you answer 'yes' to any of the following questions, you may be entitled to free eye tests.

  • Are you aged 60 or over?
  • Are you under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education?
  • Do you live in Scotland?
  • Do you or your partner receive Income Support, Child Tax Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit (guarantee credit), and do you have or are you named on a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate or a HC2 certificate (for free prescriptions)?
  • Do you have diabetes or glaucoma?
  • Are you aged 40 or over and have a close relative with glaucoma?
  • Does a hospital ophthalmologist say you are at risk of glaucoma?
  • Are you registered blind or partially sighted?
  • Are you entitled to vouchers for your lenses? For example the NHS provides vouchers depending on your circumstances (see www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcosts/pages/Eyecarecosts.aspx)

For the rest of us, there are schemes such as Eyecare (a voucher scheme run by the Government for anyone who works with computers). It includes free eye tests and vouchers to help you pay towards the cost of glasses.

Did you know that, by law, your employer may have to help towards the cost of your eyecare?

In 2002, the Health and Safety Regulations changed. Now, your employer is responsible for taking care of your eye care. If you use a computer at work, your employer must pay for your eye test. If you need glasses only for when you are using the computer at work, they must also pay for your glasses.

However, 89% of British businesses are failing to keep to their legal responsibilities to protect their staff’s sight (see www.simplyhealth.co.uk/sh/pages/homepage.jsp?source=ppc&cid=9703).