How often can I have a free NHS eye test?

It is recommended that most people should get their eyes tested every two years. However, in some circumstances, they may recommend more frequent NHS sight tests; for example, if you:

  • are a child wearing glasses
  • have diabetes
  • are aged 40 or over and have a family history of glaucoma
  • are aged 70 or over

NHS eye tests

If you're eligible for a free NHS sight or eye test, the NHS pays for it and you will not be charged. For more information, see Am I entitled to a free NHS eye test?

Can I ask for an eye test more frequently?

If you are concerned about your sight before your next NHS eye or sight test is due, you should visit your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist (both of whom are qualified to carry out eye tests). The ophthalmic practitioner will be able to carry out an NHS eye test earlier than planned, if it is considered clinically necessary.

If you want an eye test more often than your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist considers clinically necessary, you will have to pay for a private eye test.

Private eye tests

If you're not eligible for a free NHS sight or eye test, you will have to pay for a private eye test.

Charges for private eye tests vary, so it is advisable to shop around.

What if I pay for a private eye test?

If you pay for a private eye test, you will not be eligible for a free NHS sight test until your next sight test is due. This will usually be two years later but could be sooner in some cases; the person testing your eyes will advise you. 

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.

Further information: 


Page last reviewed: 07/10/2016

Next review due: 07/10/2019