You should have your eye health checked by visiting an optometrist (optician) for an eye examination (eye test)
Typically, you will have an eye examination if it is time for you to have a regular check-up, you have concerns about your vision or your existing eye condition seems to have changed.
Most people should have their eyes tested at least once every two years.
Having an eye examination is an important health check for your eyes. Your optometrist will be able to tell you how often you need an eye examination. Most people should have an eye examination every two years even if you have no problems with your vision and don't need glasses.
It is rare for eye conditions to cause pain and sometimes the changes to your sight can be very difficult to notice. Some eye conditions which can cause loss of sight, for example Glaucoma, don't cause any symptoms - you can't tell you have them. An eye test can detect eye conditions early, which means you can get any treatment available before your sight is badly affected.
If you have any worries about your vision, then an eye examination with an optometrist is usually the best place to start. Optometrists are trained to check the health of your eyes, detect any eye conditions which may need more attention and to test your vision to see if you need glasses.
If they find any signs of an eye condition, they will refer you to the right person at the hospital or ask your GP to do this.
Most high streets have an optometrist practice where you can make an appointment for an eye examination. You can normally call or just walk in for an appointment - you don't need a letter or referral from your doctor. You can also find the names and addresses of your local optometrists through the NHS Choices website.
It is important to go for an eye examination with an optometrist if:
If you notice any change like these then you should have an eye test, even if you aren't due to have one.
You should go to a hospital accident and emergency room as soon as possible if you:
If you are worried about having an eye examination, it's important to know that most people don't have an eye condition. Your sight changes naturally as you age and for many people glasses are all that is needed to see clearly.
But if you have developed an eye condition, detecting it early can make a difference to treatments and how your sight may be affected in the future.
Eye examinations are quick and painless, and for some people they are free.
Any changes you notice in your vision should be checked by your optometrist. Many eye conditions can be treated, and the earlier the treatment starts the better. Even if you do develop an eye condition, this doesn't mean that you will lose your sight.
If you do have to pay, eye test charges vary but you can expect the fee to be between £17 and £30. Ask your local optometrists what they charge.
If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions you are entitled to NHS free eye tests.
NHS rules may change from time to time. If you think you qualify for free eye tests, speak to your optometrist before you have your eyes tested and they will ask you to sign a NHS Sight Test Form.
Disclaimer: This information aims to help you get the eye test that is right for you. However, the RNIB cannot recommend or endorse any individual optometrist or give any assurance in relation to any particular eye test. If you are unhappy with the service you receive and cannot resolve it with your optometrist, you can contact the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) on 020 7261 1017.
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