Eye Examinations

Why should I have an eye test?

Eye examinations are important as you may be suffering from a condition which is contributing to symptoms that you haven’t linked to your eyes, such as headaches or migraines. Like dental check-ups, regular eye tests are the best way of ensuring your eyes are healthy and your sight is good; detecting conditions or problems early on means you can have treatment quickly and help to prevent the conditions becoming more serious.

How often do I need to have my eyes tested?

Everyone is different and some people may need to have more frequent eye examinations than others; as a general guide you should have an eye test every 3 years if you are under the age of 40, a test every 2 years if you are aged between 40 and 65 and once every year if you are over 65. If you are experiencing problems with your eyes or you wear glasses or contact lenses, you will probably need to go for check-ups more often.

How long does an eye test last?

Eye tests can be very quick and they are not at all painful or uncomfortable; if you have come in with a specific problem, they may take longer as the optometrist tried to identify the source of the problems. During a routine eye examination, you will usually be asked to read signs from different distances to check your sight. If you have problems relating to pain or irritation in the eye, you may have tests which explore the structure of your eye. You should take any glasses or a copy of your prescription for contact lenses along to your eye test so that the specialist knows the condition of your eyes at your last appointment; during the appointment they will ask you questions relating to any treatments or problems you’ve had in the past.

Am I entitled to free eye tests?

The NHS does offer free eye tests to some people but most people will have to pay for their examination. You are entitles to free NHS eye tests if you are:

  • Aged under 16
  • Aged 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • Aged over 60
  • If you have been told you are at risk of glaucoma
  • If you have are aged over 40 and have family history of glaucoma
  • If you have complex lenses
  • If you are blind or partially sighted

You will also receive help towards eye tests if you or your partner receives benefits including income support and job seeker’s allowance. You will need to show proof that you are eligible for free treatment so take your NHS card, birth certificate or HC2 certificate with you. You will need to fill in a form called a GOS1 form when you arrive.

Guide to Eye Conditions

Eye Conditions Intro

Laser Eye Surgery Guide

Ambylopia lazy eye





Eye examinations


Long sightedness

Looking after your eyes

Short sightedness