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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:

  • 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 sight tests

If you’re eligible for a free NHS sight 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 a sight test more frequently?

If you are concerned about your sight before your next NHS sight test is due, you should visit your ophthalmic practitioner. The ophthalmic practitioner will be able to carry out an NHS sight test earlier than planned, if it is considered clinically necessary. If you want a sight test more often than your ophthalmic practitioner considers clinically necessary, you will have to pay for a private sight test.

Private sight tests

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

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

What if I pay for a private sight test?

If you pay for a private sight 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:


Eye tests for adults

In this video, learn about the importance of eye tests and how to detect symptoms that could lead to problems with your eyesight.

Media last reviewed: 18/06/2015

Next review due: 18/06/2017

Page last reviewed: 08/10/2014

Next review due: 07/10/2016