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How often can I have a free NHS eye test?

It's recommended that most people should get their eyes tested every 2 years.

If you're eligible for a free NHS sight or eye test, the NHS pays for it and you won't be charged. 

See Am I entitled to a free NHS eye test? for more information. 

Your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist may recommend you have an NHS sight test more often than every 2 years 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

Can I ask for an eye test more frequently?

If you're concerned about your sight before your next NHS eye or sight test is due, you should visit your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist.

They'll be able to carry out an NHS eye test earlier than planned if it's considered clinically necessary.

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

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

What if I pay for a private eye test?

If you pay for a private eye test, you won't be eligible for a free NHS sight test until your next sight test is due.

This will usually be 2 years later, but could be sooner in some cases. The person testing your eyes can advise you. 

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

Further information: 

Page last reviewed: 7 October 2016
Next review due: 7 October 2019