All eye tests are free in Scotland if you:
Regular free eye tests
You should get your eyes examined regularly by an optometrist (optician). This is important even if you don't think you have a problem with your vision.
An NHS eye examination in Scotland tests more than just your sight. It also:
- checks the health of your eyes
- looks for signs of other health problems
In some cases, it means that any problems with your eyes can be found before they become more serious.
How often should I have my eyes checked?
Category of patient
Maximum frequency of eye tests
Patients aged under 16 years or 60 years and over
Once a year
Patients aged between 16 years and 59 years
Once every 2 years
Patients with diabetes
Once a year
Patients who are sight impaired or severely sight impaired
Once a year
Emergency eye problems and eye conditions
If you have an eye problem, go to your local optometry practice (optician) first for help.
Supplementary eye examinations
If your optometrist decides it's needed, you can still have your eyes examined for free at any time between your regular checks. These are called supplementary eye examinations.
Your optometrist might offer a supplementary eye examination if:
- you have an emergency eye issue, for example a red or sticky eye, blurred or reduced vision, flashers and floaters or pain in or around your eye
- they want to see you more often for the purposes of ongoing diagnosis or review of conditions such as glaucoma and ocular hypertension
NHS optical voucher
An NHS optical voucher helps towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses. If you're entitled to help towards the cost of prescription glasses or contact lenses, you can get an optical voucher. Your partner and children will also be entitled to a voucher if they are included in your benefit award.
You can get a voucher if you:
- are under 16 years of age
- are in full-time education and aged 16, 17 or 18
- need complex lenses
You can also get a voucher if you get, or are included in an award of someone getting:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit paid on its own or with Savings Credit
- Universal Credit (UC), if you meet the eligibility criteria
You can also get a voucher if you are:
- entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate. If you are getting Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit, you may be entitled to help, depending on your income
- named on a valid HC2 certificate issued under the NHS Low Income Scheme
Read further information for refugees and asylum seekers who may be eligible to receive a NHS optical voucher
If you're named on a valid HC3 certificate issued under the NHS Low Income Scheme, you might get some help. If your glasses or contact lenses cost more than your voucher value, you'll have to pay the difference.
If you're a war pensioner, you may be entitled to help for the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if the treatment is for your pensionable disablement. For more information contact The Treatment Group Veterans Agency.
The address is:
You can get a pre-paid addressed envelope from some Post Offices.
Repair or replacement of glasses or contact lenses
You can get a voucher towards the cost of repair or replacement if you're under 16.
If you're 16 or over you may be entitled to a voucher towards the cost of repair or replacement, if all of the following apply:
- the loss or damage was due to illness or disability
- you cannot get help through a warranty, insurance or after sales service
- you'd be entitled to a NHS voucher for glasses or contact lenses
If your glasses or contact lenses cost more than your voucher value, you'll have to pay the difference.
NHS optical voucher values
Further information on NHS optical voucher values is set out in the ‘Help with health costs (HCS2): quick guide’ booklet.
If you want to claim a refund, ask the person who supplies your glasses or contact lenses for a receipt. This receipt must show how much you paid and the date of payment. If you're claiming because of low income, use form HC5. An HC5 form is available from Jobcentre Plus offices, NHS hospitals, or your optometry practice may have one.
Complete the HC5 form and send it off. Make sure you include your optical prescription and your receipt. The form tells you what to do. The maximum refund you get back will be the voucher value that matches your prescription.
If you've already used a voucher towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses you can't get a refund, unless it was only a 'complex lens' voucher. You can't claim for a refund of the difference between the voucher value and the actual cost of your glasses or lenses, even if they cost more than the voucher value.
If you want to claim for a reason other than low income, you'll need to send Practitioner Services a letter, including your receipt.
How to contact Practitioner Services
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, refunds are only available if the loss or damage was due to illness or disability.