How families can save money on eye care this summer in a cost of living crisis

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) offers tips to help families across the UK so they can prioritise their sight even when faced with increasing outgoings and financial difficulty

With households being forced to cut back on essentials to stay afloat, optometrists warn that millions could be making do with poor vision, wearing out of date prescriptions and taped together glasses to save money.

A public poll of over 1000 people reveals that two-thirds (62%) who wear glasses say they are currently “putting off going to the opticians” due to the cost of living crisis, while 36% are wearing out of date prescriptions and 19% use glasses they have had to self-repair.1

Almost a third (31%) admitted wearing friends’ and family’s eyewear to avoid spending money.

Yet optometrists advise that everyone should have a sight test every two years, or more often if your optometrist advises it, to help keep eyes healthy and ensure eye conditions are picked up early.

Aishah Fazlanie, Optometrist and Clinical Adviser at the AOP offers three tips to help people access eye care even if they are experiencing financial hardship:

1. Accessing an NHS sight test

Help is available to those who need it and fall within certain qualifying groups. In England, all children are entitled to a fully funded NHS sight test as well as those who are 18 or under in full-time education, or if you receive means tested benefits.

You are entitled to an NHS sight test, and may also get a voucher towards the cost of glasses, if you:

  • Are under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • Have been prescribed complex lenses and are eligible for a ‘complex lens voucher’ (your optometrist can tell you more about this)
  • Are on, or your partner is on, Income Support, income-based Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Receive, or your partner receives, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependent of someone who receives Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Are, or your partner is, awarded Universal Credit and meet the criteria on earnings limit
  • Are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • 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) (if you are named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3), you may also get help)

If you are still unsure if you qualify you can use the eligibility checker on the NHS website.   

2. At your appointment

When you attend your appointment, tell your optometrist that you’re entitled to an NHS sight test.

They will give you a GOS1 form to fill in and sign.

You may be asked to show proof that you’re entitled to an NHS sight test. For more details, see the NHS leaflet.

3. Help from your employer

If you don’t qualify for an NHS sight test you may still be able to access help from your employer.

For those who use screens as part of their work, employers should provide funded eye care including a sight test and a contribution to the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

The AOP has resources to explain the eligibility criteria for an NHS sight test and information on how to access eye care. For more information including the help available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, visit


For more information, please contact Anjola Sulaiman, PR and Media Executive, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2062.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 80% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit

Quotes from the Association of Optometrists public poll include:

  • “Although my sight is very important, so is feeding my children”
  • “At the moment I have a pair of reading glasses from the pound shop, because I don't have any spare money to get an eye test and new glasses. I know that they are not correct for my vision, and I have to strain my eyes to read properly”
  • “[I have] Eye strain and headaches, and need new glasses but don’t have the money”


  1. Research carried out online among 1,002 people in the UK who either require vision correction (852 respondents), believe they require vision correction (120), or are responsible for a family member who requires vision correction (30). The fieldwork took place in October 2022 and adhered to MRS guidelines.