NHS help towards glasses and contact lenses

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Lynn White
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Joined: Sat 12 Mar 2005 8:00 pm
Location: Leighton Buzzard

NHS help towards glasses and contact lenses

Postby Lynn White » Tue 28 Mar 2006 11:07 pm

NHS help towards glasses and contact lenses

Many people wonder what help there is for KC through the NHS.

The NHS aid for eye sight problems is divided between high street optometrists and hospitals. NHS hospitals are entirely within the NHS, opticians working for them are employed by the NHS, as are consultants. High street opticians are a different matter. They are in essence entirely private but nearly all opticians in the UK contract out to the NHS through the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS). There are complicated rules as to who qualifies for a free eye examination under the GOS rules and who is eligible for financial help towards spectacles and contact lenses.

The current entitlement for a free eye examination are as follows:

Over 60
Under 16
Full time student aged 16,17,0r 18
Registered blind/partially sighted
If you suffer from diabetes/glaucoma
Are considered at risk from glaucoma by a consultant
40 or over and parent/sibling/child of person with glaucoma
Have been prescribed complex lenses under the NHS optical voucher scheme

Financial eligibility for free eye exams is as follows:

Income Support
Income based job seekers allowance
Pension Credit Guarantee credit
Tax credit (named on a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate)
Named on a valid HC2 certificate

Those eligible for a free eye test on financial grounds are eligible for an optical voucher. Also eligible are those still at school. If you are only eligible for a free eye exam because of complex prescription (ie over 10.00D), then you only get the complex optical voucher towards your glasses.

Children under 16 are allowed to get replacements through repair forms if the spectacles get broken. Adults do not automatically get this and if you want to claim another voucher because you lost or broke your glasses, then you have to apply to the department handling GOS forms for permission the Optician's wil be able to advise on that

If you are not on any of the above but feel you are on a low income, you may be able to get some help towards costs if you fill in an AG1 form, which is essentially a means test. You can pick up these forms from post offices and opticians etc.. There is also a good booklet, called HC11, which you can also pick up at said locations, which explain the help you can get with "health costs"...

So - no special allowances here if you are KC.

After you have a sight test, you may be eligible for help towards costs of spectacles if you are already exempt eye test charges through financial grounds, or are still at school. You are given an optical voucher that will help towards costs of spectacles or contact lenses.

The value of this voucher depends on your prescription, the price goes up in bands and as KC patients usually have higher than average prescriptions, you are quite likely to get a higher value voucher. This voucher can be put against glasses OR contact lenses but NOT both!

If you are eligible for the free eye test due to your prescription being over 10.00D, you get the complex optical voucher towards your specs.. but don't get excited, it is currently £12.70 for single vision specs and £32.10 for bifocals... not exactly a fortune!

If you are not eligible for any of this, then you have to pay the full private cost for contact lenses and specs at a high street opticians.

Hospitals work differently. They fit you with contact lenses and you pay £49.20 per lens for them. This might seem a lot, but often they go through several lenses to get the optimum fit and you only pay for the final pair.

Now, to slightly confuse matters, some private high street optoms have an agreement with their local hospital to fit specialist contacts so you can get your hospital voucher redeemed through them.

If you go totally privately, as in you are not eligible for any vouchers or NHS discounts, then it may cost you quite a lot as you may well be charged the total cost of chair time and refits.

If you have any queries just ask so this FAQ can be as comprehensive as possible.

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Joined: Sat 20 Aug 2011 10:02 am
Keratoconus: No, I don't suffer from KC
Vision: Contact lenses

Re: NHS help towards glasses and contact lenses

Postby aalewaa » Wed 24 Aug 2011 5:44 am

The doctor mentioned something about putting pressure behind their eyes to see if they have it? Both of my parents need to be tested for glaucoma. If what I heard was right, they're going to put pressure behind their eyes.

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Andrew MacLean
Posts: 7704
Joined: Thu 15 Jan 2004 8:01 pm
Keratoconus: Yes, I have KC
Vision: Other
Location: Scotland

Re: NHS help towards glasses and contact lenses

Postby Andrew MacLean » Wed 24 Aug 2011 8:43 am


I think that the procedure you are describing is the standard diagnostic procedure for glaucoma. They put a local anesthetic onto the eye and then press against it to see how much resistance there is. This gives them a reading of the internal occular pressure; low enough and there is no glaucoma, too high and glaucoma is present. The examination is completely painless.

As to the relationship between glaucoma and keratoconus; there really is none save to say that having one condition does not make anyone immune to the other. for more specific information about glaucoma try this website:


Welcome to the forum.

Andrew MacLean

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