Eye examination cost

What does an eye examination cost?

Many people are entitled to a NHS sight test for which there is no charge. You may be one of them.

Check the following list to see if you are entitled to a free examination provided by the NHS:

  • aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education
  • aged 60 or over
  • registered blind or partially sighted
  • diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • aged 40 or over and you are the parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a person diagnosed with glaucoma, or you have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma
  • eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher.

You are also entitled to a free NHS sight test if:

  • you receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not contribution based)
  • you receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • you receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • you 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.

If your doctor has referred you to a hospital to have an eye examination it will always be free.

Click here for more details on whether you are eligible for a free test.

Alternatively, if you think you may qualify for a free eye examination, pick up the leaflet HC11 – Are you entitled to help with health costs? This is available from optometrists, post offices, social security offices, NHS hospitals and your local GP surgery.

You may also be entitled to a voucher to offset the cost of any glasses or contact lenses prescribed.

Click here for more details on whether you are entitled to a NHS optical voucher.

If you are not on this list you should expect to pay around £20-£40 for a 20-30 minute examination, although some optometrists may also charge for additional services such as retinal photography. The fee charged will depend upon various factors including the exact content of the eye examination.


In Scotland NHS sight tests are free to all.


In Wales, under the Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) initiative, you are also entitled to have your eyes examined free of charge by a registered optometrist if you have an eye problem that occured suddenly (acutely) which you think requires urgent attention. Other provisions are in place under the EHEW – find out more.