NHS How To Guide

Glasses frames and lenses lying on a piece of paper with the NHS logo

At Glasses Direct, we want to keep you informed on how you can get the most affordable eye care possible. This is why we want to tell you about the two types of NHS voucher available to help make eye care more accessible. A free NHS eye test voucher gives a free test at least every two years to those who are eligible. An NHS optical voucher is something available in addition to the free eye test. This is a voucher that helps towards the cost of a pair of glasses – the higher the prescription, the higher the value of the voucher. Read our quick guide below to see who is eligible and how you can claim yours.

Can I get a free NHS eye test?

You’ll qualify for an NHS sight test if you fall into one of the following groups based around your age, medical conditions and income:

  • Aged between 16-19 and in full time education
  • Aged 60 or over

  • You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • You’re over 40 and have a close blood relative diagnosed with glaucoma
  • You’re registered blind or partially sighted
  • You’re eligible for a Complex Prescription NHS Voucher

  • Claiming Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Universal Credit, Income Related Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, or you receive Tax Credits and meet the criteria
  • You’re on a low income and are named on a valid HC2 or HC3 certificate

You’ll also be able to claim an NHS eye test if you’re a prisoner being seen outside prison.


If you’re eligible for an NHS eye test then please let the optician know when you book yourself in. This way, they can prepare your free NHS sight test voucher.

The optician should give you a copy of your prescription once your test is completed, however, the optician who did the exam doesn’t need to be the one who makes up your glasses. The prescription is now your property so once you get it (feel free to ask for it if it hasn’t already been given to you), it’s your choice as to who produces your new glasses (ideally Glasses Direct online)!

To be able to use your prescription elsewhere, it’s important to make sure that the optometrist has signed the bottom of the form – known as a GOS2 – and entered their ‘Performers List’ number and the date.

NHS optical prescription with the section highlighted that needs to be filled in for you to be able to use it at any store

Am I eligible for an NHS optical voucher?

Glasses frames and lenses lying next to an NHS optical voucher

If you receive a free NHS eye test you may also be eligible for an NHS optical voucher. This voucher provides help towards the final cost of glasses or contact lenses.

The following groups are entitled to an NHS voucher:

  • Aged 16-19 and in full-time education
  • If you are on Income Support
  • If you receive Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • If you are on Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • If you receive Pension Credit
  • If you have a low income and are named on a valid NHS HC2 or HC3 certificate.

You may also be entitled to a voucher if you:

  • Receive tax credits
  • Receive Universal Credit
  • You have low income and are named on an NHS HC3 certificate

To find out if you’re eligible to receive an NHS voucher please check the conditions on the NHS website.

How do I get my NHS voucher?

When you book in for an eye test be sure to mention that you qualify for a free eye exam and an NHS optical voucher so that the paperwork can be prepared.

Once you’ve had your eye test, the optometrist should give you a yellow GOS3 optical voucher with your prescription entered on it. There is no obligation to use this voucher at the optician's who performed the sight test - it can be used at any optician's, so make sure to ask for it if they don’t automatically give it to you. In order for it to be used anywhere, the optometrist’s name and ‘ophthalmic list number’ need to be completed on the front of the form along with your prescription details, the date of the test, and the optometrist’s signature.

Can I use my voucher with Glasses Direct?

At the moment you can't use your NHS voucher on any online website. However, we're working with the NHS on how we could accept optical vouchers, and hope to offer customers this option in the near future.

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