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Sight tests, glasses and contact lenses

You're entitled to a free NHS sight test if you:

  • are aged 60 or over
  • are registered blind or partially sighted
  • have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • are aged 40 or over and have a close relative (parent, sibling or child) with a history of glaucoma
  • have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma

You're entitled to a free NHS sight test and help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are aged under 16, or under 19 and in qualifying full time education
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher
  • are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • are included in an award of:
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance paid on its own)
    • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (not Pension Credit Savings Credit paid on its own)
    • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (not contributions-based Employment and Support Allowance paid on its own)
    • Universal Credit, and your earnings during the most recent assessment were £435 or less (or £935 or less if your Universal Credit includes an element for either a child or limited capability for work)
  • are named on or entitled to a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate 
  • have a valid HC2 certificate for full help with health costs

The amount of help you can get towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses is known as a voucher value, which depends on the strength of your prescribed lenses. Your optician will tell you which voucher value applies to you. If your glasses or contact lenses cost more than your voucher value, you will have to pay the difference.

HC3 certificates

If you have a valid HC3 certificate for limited help with health costs, you may be entitled to reduced cost sight tests, glasses or contact lenses. 

Your certificate tells you how much you have to pay towards the cost of your NHS sight test.

Your optician will tell you how much you need to pay towards glasses or contact lenses, based on the information on your certificate and which voucher value applies to you (this depends on the strength of the lenses you need). 

The cost of your glasses or contact lenses will be reduced by the difference between the relevant voucher value and the amount your certificate says you have to pay. If the amount shown on your certificate is higher than your voucher value, you will have to pay for your glasses or contact lenses in full.

Refunds

If you pay for an NHS sight test, glasses or contact lenses then find out that you’re entitled to free or reduced cost treatment you may be able to claim a full or partial refund. You must make your refund claim within three months of paying charges.

If you live in England

Download and print the HC5(O) form. The form tells you what to do.

HC5(O) optical costs refund form (57KB)

You can also order a form online and we'll post it to you.

If you live in Scotland 

Download and print the Scottish HC5 form. The form tells you what to do.

HC5 – Scotland optical costs refund form (80.5KB)

You can also get an HC5 from your GP practice or pharmacy. 

If you live in Wales

Call 0345 603 1108 (select the option for health publications) and ask for an HC5 form to be sent to you.

You might be able to get an HC5 from your Jobcentre, NHS hospital, GP practice, dentist or optician.