Optometrist Costs and Charges

In the United Kingdom, some individuals do not need to pay for their eye tests, contact lens or glasses because of automatic exemption. Others with low income can claim assistance for part or all of the cost. For those who use a VDU or computer in their work, the cost of eye tests is usually shouldered by the employer.

Free NHS Eye Test: Who are eligible?

The following are the requirements for you to be eligible for free eye test. Make sure you inform your optometrist that you are qualified.

  • Aged below 16 years old
  • Aged 19 years old and studying full time
  • Aged 60 years old or above
  • If you receive: income support, pension credit guarantee credit or income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • If you have registered as partially-sighted or blind
  • Aged 40 years old and suffer from glaucoma
  • At risk for glaucoma
  • Have been advised to wear contact lenses; provide optometrist with the prescription
  • War pensioner; eye test related to pensionable injury
  • Possess NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Earning a low income and has a HC2 certificate
  • Has an HC3 certificate which entitles you partial assistance

Contact lenses and glasses: Who are eligible?

  • Aged under 16 years old
  • Aged 19 years old and studying full time
  • If you or your partner receives: income support, pension credit guarantee credit or income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Have been advised to wear contact lenses; provide optometrist with the prescription
  • Possess NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Earning a low income and has a HC2 certificate

After undergoing an eye test, the optometrist will give you prescription for contact lenses or glasses if needed. You will also be given a voucher in the event that you are qualified for assistance for the contact lenses of glasses cost. This voucher can fully cover the cost of the contact lenses and glasses but if you prefer a certain style, you will have to pay extra.
You can choose to purchase contact lenses or glasses from the same optometrist who performed your eye test. Or, you can choose to go to another optometrist with your prescription. Shopping and comparing prices and style is recommended.

How can individuals who have low income apply for assistance?

Some individuals with low income can qualify for assistance for cost for eye test or purchase of contact lenses or glasses. The assistance is based on current circumstances that include savings, income level and others. You should use the HC1 form (Claim for help with health costs). You will need to fill up the form properly and provide the complete details about your circumstances. If the application for assistance is successful, either an HC2 or HC3 certificate will be given to you.

  • HC2 Certificate – this entitles you to the non-payment of the following costs: NHS dental charges, contact lenses and glasses, eye test, prescription charges, wigs, fabric supports and hospital travel for NHS treatment.
  • HC3 Certificate – this entitles you to partial assistance to a few of the health costs

These certificates are normally valid for half a year or 6 months. If after the said period, your circumstances are still the same, you can apply for new claim. For convenience, do so before the validity of the current claim expires.

Can I ask for a refund in case I have paid for the charge already?

You can ask for a refund for the payment you have made on the purchase of contact lenses or glasses or an eye test as long as you have been issued a HC2 or HC3 certificate within three months of the payment. When claiming a refund, you should use the HC5 form.

Getting the Claim Forms

For the HC1 and HC5 forms, you can:

  • Contact any of the following: local office of the Department of Work and Pensions, local social security office or local Jobcentre Plus
  • Acquire them from an NHS clinic or hospital
  • Ask your optometrist of dentist if they have them
  • Call the Department of Health Publications Order line and request for the forms to be mailed to you.

 

Free Eye Examinations for Employees Working with VDUs and Conputers

Employees who use VDU or computer screen as part of their job are entitled as required in the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. Free eye tests should be performed by optometrists whose services are paid by the employer. In some cases, vouchers are issued by your employers and you can bring them to the optometrist. Your employer will pay for the cost at an agreed schedule. In case of prescription requirement for use of VDU, the employer should also provide vouchers to cover the cost regardless of the schedule between the purchases.

Important notice