Patient's Age at Time of Sight Test, Minimum Interval Between Sight Tests or Clinical Conditions

  • Under 16 years, in the absence of any binocular vision anomaly: 1 year
  • Under 7 years with binocular vision anomaly or corrected refractive error: 6 months
  • 7 years and over and under 16 with binocular vision anomaly or rapidly progressing myopia: 6 months
  • 16 years and over and under 70 years: 2 years
  • 70 years and over:  1 year
  • 40 years and over with family history of glaucoma or with ocular hypertension and not in a monitoring scheme: 1 year
  • Diabetic patients: 1 year


Reasons for Earlier Sight Test

An optometrist or Ophthalmic Medical Practitioner (OMP) may carry out a sight test at a shorter interval than those listed above, either at the practitioner's initiative for a clinical reason, or because the patient presents him/herself to the practitioner with symptoms or concerns which might be related to an eye condition.


If an optometrist or OMP carries out a GOS sight test (i.e. an NHS test) at an interval shorter than one of those listed above, the practitioner  is required to complete necessary paperwork (GOS 1 form) with one of the following codes:

1/ Patient is at risk of frequent changes of prescription for reasons not requiring medical referral or for reasons already known to a medical practitioner.

2/ Patient has pathology  likely to worsen, for example age-related macular degeneration, cataract, corneal dystrophy, or congenital anomalies.

3/ Patient has presented with symptoms or concerns requiring ophthalmic investigation

3.1/ resulting in referral to a medical practitioner; or

3.2/ resulting in issue of a changed prescription; or

3.3/ resulting in either no change or no referral (the patient's record should indicate symptoms shown to support this category of claim, if necessary).

4.1/ Patient needs complex lenses; or

4.2/ with corrected vision of less than 6/60 in one eye.

5/ Patient has

5.1/ presented for a sight test at the request of a medical practitioner; or

5.2/ is being managed by an optometrist under the GOC referral rules, for example suspect visual fields on one occasion which is not confirmed on repeat, or abnormal IOP with no other significant signs of glaucoma; or

5.3/ identified in protocols as needing to be seen more frequently because of risk factors

6/ Other unusual circumstances requiring clinical investigation.


You qualify for a free NHS funded sight 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, or you have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma
  • eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher
  • you are a prisoner on leave from prison

You are also entitled to a free NHS sight test 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
  • you are named on 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.

Please also read about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).