Are Private Eye Tests Better than NHS Eye Tests?

The NHS provides free eye tests for a number of different categories of people, and anyone who doesn’t fit into these criteria has to go on to a private eye test. The question then becomes, is one better than the other?

Am I eligible for a free NHS eye test?

The NHS funds eye tests for the following groups of people:

  • Anyone aged over 60 or under 16.
  • 16-18 year olds in full time education.
  • Anyone on an HC2, HC3, or NHS Tax Exemption certificate.
  • If you are on Job Seekers Allowance or other forms of Income Support.
  • If you are partially sighted, blind, or in need of complex lenses.
  • Suffer from diabetes (which can contribute to eye diseases) or glaucoma (a genetic disease of the eye).
  • If you are over 40 and have a family history of glaucoma

If you find yourself in any of these criteria than you don’t have to pay for your sight test at your local optician’s, however you still have the option of seeking a private eye test.

Where can I get a private eye test and how much will it cost me?

You can arrange a private eye test at any optician’s on the high street or, if you like, at a private healthcare centre. In some cases if you have private healthcare, for example if you are registered with an organisation like BUPA, then they have an arrangement with some high street optician to provide you with a cheaper private eye test averaging at around £5. Otherwise a private eye check up will typically cost you in the region of £20-30. If you are interested in a private eye test, then it’s worth having a quick look around the internet as many opticians provide offers or online vouchers that could cut your costs.

Is it better to get a private or NHS funded eye test?

The main difference between an NHS funded and private eye test can simply be the level of depth of the examination itself. The same practitioners provide both services in most cases (e.g. in a high street opticians), meaning that you are getting the same quality of care. The fact that you are paying for a private service however, can act as an incentive for some opticians to conduct more in depth tests.

An NHS funded eye test will test your vision by means of an eye chart, and will involve an examination of your outer and inner eye. Your optician will also take a history in which they note any illnesses that could contribute to eye problems (e.g. diabetes) and ask you questions about your vision and how your eyes feel. A private eye test will be similar in structure, but in all likelihood involve a more detailed examination of the eye. As this is the case, a private eye test may be more for you if you are older and are potentially at risk of developing an eye condition. However that being said, if you are at risk then your NHS funded test is more than likely going to involve a more detailed check to make sure all is well.

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