This leaflet aims to help you understand if you’re eligible for an eye examination paid for by the NHS (an NHS eye examination) or help towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses.
In Scotland, you can benefit from an NHS eye examination if you live in the UK, or you belong to one of the categories set out in the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Scotland) Regulations 1989. For more information about this, visit the Scottish NHS Inform website.
If you are eligible, you can have an NHS eye examination whenever you need one. The NHS will pay for your routine check-ups, and they will also pay for further examinations if you have a problem with your eyes or eyesight, or if your optometrist recommends that you have one between routine check-ups. You can have a free routine eye examination every two years or every year if you:
- Are under 16
- Are 60 or over or
- Have diabetes
NHS optical voucher
An NHS optical voucher helps towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses. In Scotland, you are eligible for a voucher if you:
- Are under 16
- Are aged 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
- Need complex lenses
- Are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- Are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2) or
- Receive, or your partner receives, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance don’t count as they’re not income-related.)
If you’re named on a valid HC3 certificate for limited help with health costs, you may get some help towards the cost of an eye examination.
If you are not in any of the categories above you may still be able to get help with the cost of glasses and contact lenses through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
If you’re a war pensioner, you may be entitled to help with the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if you need these as a result of the disability your pension relates to.
A lot of the information in this leaflet is taken from the Scottish NHS inform website.
Resources for your practice
Download our patient leaflet on NHS funding in Scotland.