Am I entitled to a free NHS eye test?

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 
  • are awarded Universal Credit
  • are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

Find a local optician near you.

Optometrists recommend 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-funded mobile eye tests

If you qualify for a free NHS sight test, you may be entitled to NHS-funded mobile services where the ophthalmic practitioner comes to visit you:

  • at home – if you're unable to leave home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability
  • at a residential or care home – if you normally live there and you're unable to leave the home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability
  • at a day centre – if you would have difficulty getting a sight test from an optometrist at their practice because of physical or mental illness or disability, or because you have difficulty communicating your health needs without help

Call 111 to find out who provides mobile sight tests in your area.

Proving your entitlement to a free NHS eye test

When you go for your sight test, tell your ophthalmic practitioner that you're entitled to a free NHS sight test. They will give you a form called GOS1 to fill in and sign.

You'll be asked to show proof that you're entitled to a free NHS sight test. For more information, see the NHS leaflet Help with health costs (PDF, 287kb). This leaflet explains which documents you will need to prove this.

What if I'm not entitled to a free NHS eye test?

If you don't qualify for a free NHS sight test, you will have to pay for a private sight test.

The cost of private sight tests varies, so it's advisable to shop around.

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: 09/09/2013

Next review due: 09/09/2015

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2014

Next review due: 24/09/2016