6 min Read
29 Jun 2012

Written by Liam

Over 30 years experience in financial services, residential lettings and property sales. Director of a leading national estate agency chain, until leaving in 2008 to pursue other commercial interests. Vast experience in new business development, business change, management development and business strategy.

More about Liam

How to cut the cost of eye care – Money tip #184

If you have vision problems and need to wear glasses or contact lenses then the cost of treatment can really mount up. Regular eye tests and the subsequent cost of glasses or contact lenses can be expensive, so any savings in this area are more than welcome.

Here are  my tips for saving money on eye care.

Regular eye tests

It is important to have a regular eye test, at least every two years, to maintain the health of your eyes. The cost of this test could be as high as £30 but more than 30 million people in Britain qualify for free eye tests.

You qualify for a free eye test if you are:

  • aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education
  • aged 60 or over
  • registered blind or partially sighted
  • diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • aged 40 or over and you are the parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a person diagnosed with glaucoma
  • eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher
  • you receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • you receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • you receive Income-based Employment Support Allowance
  • you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
You may also qualify for a free mobile sight test where the optometrist comes to visit you in your home or at a day centre. Providing you are eligible for a free eye test, through the criteria above, then you may also qualify for the mobile service if you meet one of the criteria below.

  • At home - if you  are  unable to leave your home unaccompanied  because of physical or mental illness or disability
  • At a residential or care home - if you normally live there and you are unable to leave the home unaccompanied because of physical or mental illness or disability
  • At a day centre - if you would have difficulty in obtaining sight testing services from an optician's practice because of physical or mental illness or disability or because of difficulties in communicating your health needs unaided

Free eye tests from your employer if you use a computer

You have the right to a free eyesight test from your employer if you use, or are about to use, a VDU a lot during work hours. You can also get more free tests if recommended by your optician. If you are prescribed glasses to help you work with a VDU, your employer must pay for a basic pair of glasses, provided they are needed especially for your work.

Cost of glasses

Don't feel obliged to buy your glasses or contact lenses from the optician that carried out you eye test. The optician must give you a copy of your up-to-date prescription, leaving you free to shop around for the best deals.

When it comes to frames their is a great difference in prices from the basic to designer brands, there are also many online companies that offer good deals. Obviously buying online presents a problem of not being able to try on your choice of lens. Why not then choose your lens at high street opticians then shop around online for the best price.

Also, watch out for up-selling by the optician who will  probably offer you special coatings for your glasses, such as anti-glare, anti-scratch and photochromic lenses. You may find these coatings beneficial but they will greatly increase the overall cost.
You may get help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:
  • are aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education or
  • are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher (your optician will advise on your entitlement)

You may also get an NHS optical voucher if:

  • you receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contribution-based).
  • you receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.
  • you receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance.
  • you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.
  • ou are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).

Contact lenses

Contact lenses can be much cheaper if they are purchased in bulk online, however it is important to only purchase lenses prescribed by your optician. If you are planning to purchase online make sure that you only use reputable companies.

Many opticians will try to sell you a regular order plan that is paid for by monthly direct debit, but this will lock you into using one company and therefore you will not benefit from shopping around.

Other ways to save money

  • when you have an eye test and your prescription changes you do not need to change your frames as well. If you are still happy with your frames then have your new lenses fitted into them
  • look around for deals - many high street opticians will, from time to time, offer two pairs of glasses for the price of one or a free pair of sunglasses with each purchase


Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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