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A big question in these economic times when it comes to anything is that of cost, and the potential price implications of regular eye tests and new glasses can put people off their regular eye tests. If you are uncertain about what exactly you are expected to pay for when you go to an optician’s, then look no further, this article should tell you everything you need to know about what you pay when you go to an optician’s.

Cost of an eye test at an optician’s

The eye test is conducted by a qualified optician (or optometrist if you want to be precise) who evaluates the limits of your vision and prescribes, if necessary, lenses to correct your eyesight. An eye test should be conducted at least every two years, and can cost on average between £20 and £30. There are, however, categories of people who don’t need to pay for their eye test. These are:

  • Anyone over the age of 60 or under the age of 16.
  • Young people aged between 16 and 18 who remain in full time education.
  • Anyone with low vision/partial sight and/or blindness.
  • People on an HC3, HC2, or NHS Tax Exemption form.
  • Anyone in need of complex lenses.
  • If you suffer from diabetes or have a family history of diabetes.
  • If you have a family history of eye conditions like glaucoma.
  • Or if you are on Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance.

These groups are all eligible for a free eye test on the NHS.

Cost of glasses

Glasses can be quite pricy, even excluding the cost of frames. Some frames are free, while others go up in price, ranging from £20 to the more expensive designer frames that can average around the £180 mark and beyond. Lenses tend to be even dearer, particularly ones that have additional features like bifocals or lenses with an anti-scratch or anti-reflective coating. Prices for lenses can start in and around £30-50 (less in some cases), and go up to about £300 for strong and complex lenses.

Fortunately the NHS provides optical vouchers to certain groups that can be redeemed against the cost of your glasses. These vouchers can vary depending on the strength of your prescription, but can start down at around £30 and go up to a remarkable £187. Your optician will provide you with guidance as to your eligibility for an optical voucher, and the criteria for suitability are the same as for free eye tests (see above).

Cost of contacts

Contact lenses are available for either disposable, daily use or for extended wear (monthly use). A contact lens has a corrective role just like their spectacle borne counterparts, but sits on top of the natural layer of tears that lubricates and protects the eye. Because of this, it is barely noticeable, extremely convenient, and can provide quite a relief to people who have worn glasses for years.

Contact lens prices are hugely variable and can depend on where you order them from, the nature of the lenses (multifocal for example). Prices for daily lenses can be around £50 for a three month supply or about £200 for a twelve month supply. Monthly lenses tend to be cheaper, working out at about £27 for six months’ supply, and about £54 for a full year. With monthly lenses however you should also factor in the cost of cleaning solutions.

These are only rough figures to give you some idea of what you might be paying. Remember also that optical vouchers can be applied to contact lenses in some instances.


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