Opticians

When you visit an optician for an eye test, you’ll be examined by an ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist who is trained to recognise abnormalities and conditions, such as cataracts or glaucoma.

Ophthalmic practitioners prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. If necessary, they’ll refer you to a GP or a hospital eye clinic for further investigations. Sometimes, you’ll be referred to a specialist optometrist for a referral refinement (reassessment).

How often should I have an eye test?

Your eyes rarely hurt when something is wrong with them, so having regular eye tests is important to help detect potentially harmful conditions.

The NHS recommends that you should have your eyes tested every two years (more often if advised by your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist).

An NHS sight test is free of charge if you’re in one of the eligible groups and the test is considered clinically necessary. If the ophthalmic practitioner cannot see a clinical need, you’ll have to pay for the test privately.

Find out more about free NHS eye tests and optical vouchers.

What happens after an eye test?

Following an eye test your ophthalmic practitioner is legally required to give you your optical prescription or a statement to say you’ve been referred for further tests.

An NHS optical voucher will also be issued immediately if you can prove you’re entitled to one. There are currently 10 voucher values for glasses and lenses. The values depend on the strength of your prescription. The stronger your prescription, the higher the value of your voucher.

You should never feel obliged to buy glasses or redeem an optical voucher from the place where you had your eye test. Shop around for the best value and only buy glasses or contact lenses when you’re happy with the product and cost.

Find out more, including if you are eligible for a free eye test:

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Page last updated 29 June 2022