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NHS Optical Vouchers Explained

Free NHS eye tests and optical vouchers

Find out if you’re entitled to a free NHS sight test or an optical voucher to reduce the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

If you’re not eligible for NHS-funded sight tests or optical vouchers, you’ll have to cover the costs yourself.

Free NHS eye tests

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

  • are under 16
  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • are 60 or over
  • are registered as partially sighted or blind
  • have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • are 40 or over and your mother, father, sibling or child has been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • have been advised by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) that you’re at risk of glaucoma
  • are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – your optician can advise you about your entitlement

You’re also entitled if you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

If you’re entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice), you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help with the cost of a private sight test.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

NHS optical vouchers

You’re entitled to an optical voucher for help towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • are under 16
  • are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education
  • are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – an optician can advise you about your entitlement

You’re also entitled if you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you’re entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice), you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

NHS complex lens vouchers

To be eligible, your lenses need to be either -10/+10 dioptres or more, or prism-controlled bifocal lenses.

Complex lens vouchers are a contribution towards the cost of these lenses – currently £14.90 for single vision lenses and £38.15 for bifocal lenses.

The vouchers are only available to those who meet the clinical criteria and are not eligible for one of the main optical vouchers.

Mobile sight test

If you’re eligible for a free NHS sight test, you may also be entitled to a mobile sight test. This is when an optometrist comes to visit you:

  • at home – if you’re unable to leave home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability
  • at a residential or care home – if you’re a resident and unable to leave the home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability
  • at a day centre – if you cannot get a sight test at an optician’s practice because of physical or mental illness or disability, or have difficulties communicating your health needs unaided

How can I claim a refund?

Sight test fees

If you paid for a sight test but think you may qualify for an NHS-funded sight test, or you’re about to have a test and you’re not sure if you qualify, ask the optometrist for a receipt that shows you paid for the test and the date of payment.

You’ll need to download, print and return an HC5(O) refund form along with your original receipt. The form tells you where to send it.

Download an HC5(O) refund claim form for optical costs from the NHS Business Services Authority

Glasses or contact lenses

If you have already used a voucher towards the cost of your glasses or lenses, you cannot get a refund for any difference between the voucher value and the actual cost of your glasses or lenses, unless it was a complex lens voucher.

If you paid for glasses or contact lenses and think you may have qualified for a voucher, you can claim a refund.

You’ll need to download, print and return an HC5(O) refund form along with your original receipt (including the amount you paid and the date of payment) and your optical prescription. The form tells you where to send it.

Download an HC5(O) refund claim form for optical costs from the NHS Business Services Authority

The maximum refund you can get will be the voucher value that matches your prescription.

Lost or damaged glasses or contact lenses

If your glasses or contact lenses have been lost or damaged and you pay for replacement or repairs, you’ll only be considered for a refund if you’re entitled to a voucher.

If you have a question about health costs

If you have questions about help with health costs, join the Help with Health Costs team on Facebook, where the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) will respond to your queries Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Or you can call the Help with Health Costs helpline on 0300 330 1343.

You must check that you’re entitled to help with health costs before signing any declaration stating that you are. You may have to pay a fine if you make a false claim. You would have to pay the cost of the sight test and the value of the voucher charge, plus a penalty charge of up to £100.

For more information, see Paying NHS charges.

Useful numbers

  • Help with Health Costs helpline – 0300 330 1343
  • Queries about medical exemption certificates – 0300 330 1341
  • Queries about tax credit certificates – 0300 330 1347
  • To order a paper copy of an NHS claims form – 0300 123 0849
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Our team of specialist mobile opticians can come to those who can’t visit us in-store unaccompanied due to a physical or mental illness or disability.


In order to be eligible for a home visit, you or someone you know might:

  • have a condition that stops you from leaving your home unaccompanied due to poor health, or

  • be living with a diagnosed mental health condition that prevents you from leaving your home without the assistance of another person, or

  • be housebound or bedbound due to a physical disability


What do we mean by a physical or mental illness?


There are many conditions and reasons why someone might not able to leave their home unaccompanied. It’s best to talk to us about your situation so we can determine if you do meet the criteria, but to try and help make it a little clearer, here are a few examples. 


Conditions may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Severe arthritis
  • A diagnosed mental illness
  • A condition that affects your mobility
  • A condition that affects your short term memory
  • An illness that requires constant medication (for example, oxygen)
  • A temporary medical reason prohibiting you from leaving your home (such as vertigo)
  • A temporary illness that prevents a person from leaving the home unaccompanied
  • A medical professional has advised you not to leave home without help

Whatever the reason is, if you or someone you know can’t leave the home without the assistance of another person, then get in touch to find out if you’re eligible to have a home eye test.


Who qualifies for a free home eye test?


Those who have a physical or mental illness which prevent you from leaving your home unaccompanied.

Those who are eligible for free NHS-funded eye tests by checking the criteria below.

The majority of our customers qualify for a free NHS-funded eye test. 


See if you do by checking if you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Aged 60 or over
  • Registered as partially sighted or blind
  • Diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • Considered to be at risk of glaucoma, as advised by an optician
  • Aged 40 or over and have a family member diagnosed with glaucoma, or have a family history of glaucoma
  • Receiving benefit*
  • Entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Named on a valid NHS HC2 certificate (full help). Those named on an NHS HC3 certificate (partial help) may also get help with the cost of a private eye test
  • Eligible for an NHS Complex Lens Voucher (your optician will advise on the entitlement)


*You’re also entitled if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving: Income Support, Income-related Employment, and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

Our team of specialist mobile opticians can come to those who can’t visit us in store unaccompanied due to a physical or mental illness or disability.

In order to be eligible for a home visit, you or someone you know might:

  • have a condition that stops you from leaving your home unaccompanied due to poor health, or

  • be living with a diagnosed mental health condition that prevents you from leaving your home without the assistance of another person, or

  • be housebound or bedbound due to a physical disability

What do we mean by a physical or mental illness?

There are many conditions and reasons why someone might not able to leave their home unaccompanied. It’s best to talk to us about your situation so we can determine if you do meet the criteria, but to try and help make it a little clearer, here are a few examples. Conditions may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Severe arthritis
  • A diagnosed mental illness
  • A condition that affects your mobility
  • A condition that affects your short term memory
  • An illness that requires constant medication (for example, oxygen)
  • A temporary medical reason prohibiting you from leaving your home (such as vertigo)
  • A temporary illness that prevents a person from leaving the home unaccompanied
  • A medical professional has advised you not to leave home without help

Whatever the reason is, if you or someone you know can’t leave the home without the assistance of another person, then get in touch to find out if you’re eligible to have a home eye test.

Who qualifies for a free home eye test?

Those who have a physical or mental illness which prevents you from leaving your home unaccompanied.

Those who are eligible for free NHS-funded eye test by checking the criteria below.

The majority of our customers qualify for a free NHS-funded eye test. See if you do by checking if you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Aged 60 or over
  • Registered as partially sighted or blind
  • Diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • Considered to be at risk of glaucoma, as advised by an optician
  • Aged 40 or over and have a family member diagnosed with glaucoma, or have a family history of glaucoma
  • Receiving benefit*
  • Entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Named on a valid NHS HC2 certificate (full help). Those named on an NHS HC3 certificate (partial help) may also get help with the cost of a private eye test
  • Eligible for an NHS Complex Lens Voucher (your optician will advise on the entitlement)

*You’re also entitled if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving: Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

Who does not qualify for our home visit service?

No matter what condition you have, if you are physically able to leave your home on your own without needing help or assistance of another person, you will not qualify for a free NHS-funded home eye test.

We are also unable to visit patients in hospital.