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An eye examination is much more than a test of your vision. It can also identify any issues you may have with your eye health and even your general health, before you may have become aware of them.

How often should I have my eyes examined?

Most people should have their eyes examined at least every two years, depending on their clinical circumstances. However, you should:

  • ask your optometrist how often they recommend you have an eye examination
  • contact your optometrist if you notice any changes in your sight, or are having any problems with your eyes – do not wait for your next scheduled eye examination.

How can I find an optometrist?

Enter your postcode in Find a local optometrist to find a member or fellow of the College of Optometrists in a practice nearby. These optometrists will have MCOptom or FCOptom after their name – a sign of their commitment to providing the highest standards of care.

If you are happy with your optometrist, you should try and stay with them so that they can keep track of any changes to your eyes over time.

How much does an eye examination cost?

In Scotland, the NHS pays for eye examinations for everyone. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the price is usually between £25 and £40, but varies from practice to practice. Check with the practice before you book. You may be entitled to an NHS funded sight test.

England: Check the NHS website to see if you are eligible for a free sight test.

Northern Ireland: Check the NI Direct website to see if you are eligible for a free sight test.

Scotland: Eye examinations are free to those ordinarily resident in the UK .

Wales: Check the Eye Care Wales Services website to see if you are eligible for a free sight test.

Can I have an eye examination at home?

If you, or someone you care for is unable to visit the optometrist because of physical or mental illness or disability, the optometrist can come to you. Optometrists who provide domiciliary (at home) services are experienced in dealing with patients with various mental and physical disabilities, and can carry out an examination in their home. If you qualify for a free NHS sight test, the NHS will pay for your optometrist to visit you at home.

Do I need to bring anything to my first eye examination appointment?

It is helpful to take along:

  • your current glasses and/or contact lenses
  • any previous optical prescriptions, if you have them
  • any letters or documents about previous visits to the hospital eye department
  • a list of any medications that you are taking – even if they aren’t for a problem with your eyes
  • your doctor’s contact details
  • your NHS number.

If you think you may be entitled to an NHS-funded sight test, you may need to bring along other documents. Check with your optometrist when you make your appointment.

What happens in an eye examination?

The eye examination usually takes around 20 – 30 minutes. During the examination, the optometrist will:

  • ask you about:
    • your general health
    • any problems you are having with your eyes or your vision
    • close relatives who have a history of eye problems
    • your work and/or your hobbies
  • assess your distance (for TV and driving) and near vision (for reading and close work)
  • check your eye movements and co-ordination to make sure both eyes are working together and undue stress is not being placed on your eye muscles
  • check the health of your eyes by examining the outside and inside of your eyes in detail. They may take a photograph or scan to help them do this. There may be a charge for these images, but if there is you will have the option to ask not to have them taken
  • carry out tests for chronic glaucoma if you are in a group of people who are at risk of developing glaucoma. 

Watch our video to find out more about the eye examination


After the examination, you will be given a prescription for glasses if you need them, or a statement which confirms that you don’t need them. You can order your glasses from the practice where you had your eyes examined or take it elsewhere. But it’s important to remember that it is often more difficult to resolve any problems you may have if you buy your glasses somewhere else