Frequently Asked Questions
We've done our best to provide you with all of the information you would need when considering an eye test, spectacles or contact lenses for yourself and your family. With that goal in mind, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions. If you do not find an answer to your question here, you can contact us at +44 01902 420348 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
1. Am I entitled to a free NHS sight test?
You qualify for a free NHS-funded sight test if you are:
- under 16
- under 19 and in full-time education
- 60 or over
- registered as severely visually impaired or visually impaired
- been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
- 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma
- been advised by an Ophthalmologist (eye doctor) that you’re at risk of glaucoma
- a prisoner on leave from prison
- eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher - the Optometrist (optician) can advise you about your entitlement
You are also entitled to a free NHS sight test if you or your partner:
- receive Income Support
- receive Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not Contribution-based)
- receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (not Pension Savings Credit)
- receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (not Contribution-based)
- are named on a valid Tax Credit Exemption Certificate
- are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
- If you are named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3), you may get some help towards the cost of your sight test. Please make sure you bring with you some evidence of your - or your partner’s - benefit e.g. signing on book or an official letter from the relevent benefits agency
NHS-funded mobile sight tests
If you qualify for an NHS sight test you may also be entitled to a mobile sight test if you are unable to leave home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability.
You will be asked to show proof of your entitlement to free NHS sight tests.
If you do not fall within one of the eligible groups who are entitled to a free NHS sight test you will need to pay for the home visit privately. This currently costs £75.00. Currently Lichfield Street Opticians does not cover private home visits; if one is necessary you can contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 at any time - the service available 24 hours a day throughout the year.
2. Am I entitled to an NHS Optical Voucher?
You may get help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you are:
- aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education ;
- over 65 and in receipt of pension tax credit;
- eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher (your optician will advise on your entitlement)
You may also get an NHS optical voucher if:
- You are in receipt of Universal Credit
- You receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contribution-based).
- You receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit. (not Pension Savings 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 at the time of your sight test you were not entitled to an NHS voucher and you think you may be entitled to one at the time of your dispensing you can ask for an HC1 form to apply for exemption.
You will be told at your sight test if this is a new or changed prescription and if you need glasses. The value of your voucher is determined by your prescription. You are only entitled to a voucher if your prescription has changed or if your glasses need replacing due to fair wear and tear.
If your glasses or contact lenses cost more than your voucher value, we will request you to pay the difference.
3. How do I claim for help with optical charges?
When you come for your sight test, please tell us if you are entitled to a free NHS sight test and the reason for it. Where possible, bring proof of your entitlement. We will ask you to sign an NHS GOS 1 form. If you qualify for help towards paying for glasses and lenses, we will ask you to sign an NHS GOS 3 form.
If you have a valid HC3 certificate, bring it with you and present it to us and ask if you are entitled to any help with the cost of your private sight test. Please note that HC3 certificates are awarded on an individual basis and not all will cover eye care costs - your certificate will specify what your entitlements are.
For more information download the NHS leaflet HC12: charges and optical vouchers (PDF, 158kb).
4. Other General NHS Queries
Lost or damaged glasses or contact lenses:
You can get vouchers for most repairs or replacement if you are under 16 years old.
If you are 16 years of age or older, a repair replacement voucher may be claimed if the loss and damage was caused by an illness or disability. Special permission from the PCT should be obtained.
You may be entitled to help through the NHS low income scheme. You will need to complete form HC1 available from us, or from any NHS practice (such as your GP), or by calling the NHS directly on 0845 610 1112. After submitting the completed HC1 form to the NHS in the prepaid envelope provided, and if you qualify, you may be sent an HC2 or HC3 certificate.
Please note that the following benefits on their own DO NOT automatically entitle you to help with the cost of an NHS Sight test, glasses or contact lenses. However you may be able to apply for a HC2 or HC3 certificate under the low income scheme as above:
- Universal Credit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit Savings Credit
- Contribution based Employment and support Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance.
- Proof of entitlement
- War Pensions (Special arrangements apply to war pensioners. Please ask us for details.)
Please note - On attendance you will be asked to show proof that you are entitled to a free NHS sight test and voucher.
Other Common Questions
5. Why is it important that I have my PD measurement?
Your PD is the distance between your eyes, measured between the centre of your pupils. For a pair of glasses to perform as well as possible for you, the lenses need to be made to match this distance between your eyes, so that the centre of each lens aligns with the centre of your pupils as you naturally look forwards. This is important if you have a high-strength prescription or require varifocals for example, where your vision may differ when looking through different parts of the lens.
Very occasionally, people with strong prescriptions and whose pupillary distance diverges significantly from the average, may experience problems with glasses made using an average PD measurement. An incorrect PD won't harm the eyes but may cause discomfort or eye strain which would be noticeable upon wearing the glasses or contact lenses.
6. How do I get a copy of my prescription?
The optician is legally obliged to provide you with a copy of your prescription after your eye test. If they don’t give you this, make sure you ask them.
7. How recent does my prescription have to be?
Your prescription must be no older than two years. Your recommended intervals between eye tests may vary depending on your age and health - but even those with healthy eyes should have their eyes tested every two years. This is because many treatable eye conditions may take years to develop without obvious symptoms emerging - and the earlier any problems are diagnosed, the easier it is to successfully treat.
If you are looking to use your prescription for new glasses, please be aware that your prescription should be at most one year old. Prescriptions can change relatively quickly as you age - even more so if you develop conditions such as cataracts or AMD - and your prescription from two years ago may have changed in that time, meaning that your new lenses may not work to correct your vision properly.
8. Why do I need brand new lenses with a new frame?
If you are looking to buy a new spectacle frame, you will need to also new lenses. This is because all lenses have to be specifically cut to each frame, to ensure that the lenses line up with your eyes correctly and that they will hold in one position within the frame. Using old lenses brings the risk of incorrect alignment to your eyes meaning that you could find yourself always looking through the wrong part of your lenses whenever you wear your glasses. In such cases, not only is your vision not benefiting from your lenses, but you will strain your eyes, which can lead to headaches and migraines. At the worst, you could damage your eyesight further.