NHS Eye Tests and Optical Vouchers

Under the NHS, an eye examination is available without charge for all children up to the age of 16, and under 19 in full-time education. As an indication of the recognised importance of children’s eye care, only a qualified practitioner – an optometrist, ophthalmic medical practitioner or dispensing optician registered with the General Optical Council, is permitted by law to supply children’s spectacles. Vision defects can be corrected by spectacles, and a registered practitioner is the professional with the training to advise properly on eyecare matters.

Following an child’s eye examination, if glasses are prescribed, parents are entitled to NHS funding in the form of a voucher to use towards the costs. The value of the voucher issued is determined by the type of prescription needed.

Bethell & Clark offer a range of good quality children’s frames and lenses within this voucher value – so there may be nothing to pay for your child’s spectacles. Putting a few extra pounds towards the cost of glasses opens up the choice of attractive frames considerably, and lenses can also be made tougher and lighter.

The NHS also provides vouchers to use towards the cost of children’s repairs and even towards a full replacement pair if a child’s spectacles are lost.

You are entitled to a (free) NHS sight test if you are:

  • under 16 years of age
  • 16, 17, or 18 years of age and in full time education
  • 60 years of age or over
  • registered blind, or partially sighted,
  • diagnosed with diabetes, or glaucoma,
  • 40 years of age, or over, and have a immediate relative, such as father, mother, sister, or brother, with glaucoma
  • you have been advised by an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in eye conditions) that you are at risk of glaucoma
  • you are in receipt of certain benefits, or tax credits.

You may also be entitled to a free sight test if you are prescribed certain complex lenses, such as certain types of bifocal, or powerful lenses. Check with our staff for more information about this.
If you are eligible for help with NHS costs under the NHS Low Income Scheme, you can claim some or even all of the cost of sight tests, glasses and/or contact lenses for you and your partner.

You are automatically entitled to full help with eyecare costs if you or your partner are receiving Income Support, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or if you are named on a Tax Credit NHS Exemption Certificate.

NHS Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS)

For all people registered with a GP practice within the North East Essex NHS CCG; if you have eye pain, sudden loss of vision, suspected foreign bodies in the eye, lid problems or flashes and floaters we can see you for a NHS funded examination. You can self-refer to us by speaking to our receptionists about your symptoms, or you may be directed to us by your GP, pharmacist, or another optometrist for an examination. Our receptionists will ask you a few short triage questions to gauge the urgency of your symptoms, where necessary we will offer you an appointment within 24hrs of you contacting us.

Your symptoms will be investigated fully by our MECS accredited optometrists using all the necessary the equipment at our disposal, including our hospital grade OCT scanner. Your condition may be managed by ourselves or, where required, referred in a timely manner with all our detailed findings to the local ophthalmology department.

If your GP is outside the North East Essex area you do not qualify for this NHS service – we can still examine you but there may be a charge for the appointment.