If you are in need of an eye test or a new pair of glasses or contact lenses, the NHS (the National Health Service of the UK) may be able to help you out. Many people are unaware that they are entitled to receive free corrective eye care or discounts with the NHS – this guide is here to help you understand the basics of the program and whether you are eligible.

Eyecare entitlements with the NHS

The NHS offers 3 main entitlements: free sight tests, free mobile sight tests, and vouchers, to help with the costs of contact lenses or glasses. An NHS mobile eye test involves an optometrist visiting your home or your care home, or you visiting a day centre. You are eligible for a free eye test, mobile eye test or optical voucher if you meet one of the following factors:

– If you are under the age of 16 or under 19 in full-time education

– If you are over the age of 60

– If you are officially diagnosed with glaucoma or diabetes

– If you are over 40 and are at risk of glaucoma

– If you are registered partially sighted or blind

You are also eligible for a free eye, mobile eye test or optical voucher if you are receiving certain state benefits, namely, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credits or Employment and Support Allowance. The same is true if you are named on an NHS financial support certificate (partial HC3 or full HC2 financial help) or a tax credit exemption certificate.

To receive optical vouchers you must provide proof for your entitlement, for example, a medical examination or proof of age (birth certificate, passport, driving licence or sometimes, student identity card). These optical vouchers have eight different values, and the one you get will depend on the strength of your prescription. The lowest current voucher value is £37.10 (Grade A) and the highest is £205.10 (Grade H), which may increase to higher amounts if you require lens tints or prisms for your lenses.

Grade A to Grade D are for single vision lenses, Grade E to G are for bifocal lenses, and Grade H is for prism controlled bifocal lenses. The highest amount you can receive for single vision lenses is £186.50 (Grade D), and the highest amount you can receive for non-prism bifocal lenses is £105.80.

If you have already purchased lenses and you have subsequently realized that you are entitled to optical vouchers, you can still save money with refund discounts. You will need to get a receipt for your eye test or a receipt from the supplier of your glasses or contact lenses. This includes replacement for damaged or lost glasses or contact lenses.

Which Suppliers Accept Optical Vouchers?

It is often cheaper to buy contact lenses online, but not all of them accept NHS optical vouchers. Lenstore.co.uk allow you to save the maximum amount possible for contact lenses because they do accept NHS vouchers, providing you with twice the discount on an extensive range of contact lenses from all leading brands.

This article was written by Chelsea Hasbrouck. Chelsea has extensive experience as an optical technician. She enjoys sharing her insights and findings to various health blogs. 

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