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When should I have an eye test?

If something bothers you about your vision or eyesight you are best to get it checked, sooner rather than later. The NHS provides free eye examinations every 2 years – annually under some circumstances – but if you feel an examination is required sooner than planned you should speak to your optometrist and you may find you are entitled to an additional exam free of charge.

A healthy adult is generally recommended to have an eye examination every 2 years even if it is felt that no spectacles are required. Some eye conditions can only be detected by testing for them and can develop slowly and quietly so signs or symptoms may not always be obvious. These eye examinations are paid for by the NHS.

If you are over 40 years of age and have glaucoma, or a close relative has glaucoma, you are entitled to an annual eye examination paid for by the NHS. Likewise, if you are diabetic you can have a free annual eye examination. Those of us aged over 70 will also have a free annual eye test. Children who wear spectacles are encouraged to have annual eye exams to ensure their eyes have the best chance of developing normally.

You qualify for a free NHS-funded sight test if:

  • you’re aged under 16
  • you’re aged 16, 17 or 18 and are in full-time education
  • you’re aged 60 or over
  • you’re registered as partially sighted (sight impaired) or blind (severely sight impaired)
  • you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • you’re 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • you’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) that you’re at risk of glaucoma
  • you’re a prisoner on leave from prison
  • you’re eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – your optometrist (optician) can advise you about your entitlement

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

  • receive Income Support
  • receive Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not Contribution-based)
  • receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (not Contribution-based)
  • are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • on a low income and named on a valid HC2 (full help) or HC3 (partial help) certificate
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