Opticians - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find an optician?
To find an optician, you can use our opticians search.

What are the different types of optician?
There are 3 different types of optical practitioner:

  • Optometrists - also known as ophthalmic opticians, are trained professionals who examine eyes, give advice on visual problems, and prescribe glasses and contact lenses. They can also refer cases of eye disease where appropriate.
  • Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners (OMPs) - are medical doctors specialising in eye-care. They examine eyes, diagnose abnormalities and prescribe suitable corrective lenses.
  • Dispensing Opticians - make up prescriptions from optometrists. They may fit and supply spectacles, contact lenses and other optical appliances, but do not perform eye examinations.

How can I get an eye test?
This is simply a case of arranging an appointment with the optician of your choice. There is no registration process involved.

What optical care and services are available under the NHS?
People in the following categories are entitled to a free NHS sight test:

  • Are under 16*
  • Are aged 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education*
  • Age 60 or over
  • Diagnosed glaucoma patients
  • Aged 40 or over and are either a parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a diagnosed glaucoma patient, or
  • Have been advised by an ophthalmic practitioner that they are at risk of glaucoma
  • Diagnosed with diabetes
  • Registered blind or partially sighted
  • Require complex lenses*
  • Those whose sight test is carried out by a hospital eye department as part of the management of an optical condition
  • Patient or partner are in receipt of Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.*
  • Named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate*
  • Named on a valid HC2W certificate
  • Partial help if you are named in a valid HC3W you might get some help towards the cost of a private sight test.

*Also entitled to NHS vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

Further information can be found on GOV.WALES:

Wales Eye Care Services 
This website has been set up by the Welsh Government in order to promote the Wales Eye Care Services (WECS), a service which aims to minimise sight-loss in Wales by means of the following schemes; 

  • The detection of eye problems in susceptible individuals, such as those with a family history of eye disease, and ensuring urgent attention for acute eye problems via the Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) scheme. 
  • The provision of a low vision service, via the Low Vision Service Wales scheme, which is accessible to any patient with a visual impairment.

When am I entitled to a free eye examination?

You can have an eye examination for free if you have an eye problem that occurs suddenly. Under the Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) initiative you are entitled to have your eyes examined free of charge by a registered optometrist if you have an eye problem that occured suddenly (acutely) which you think requires urgent attention.

You can also have an EHEW if you:

  • have been referred by your GP to an EHEW registered optometrist because of an eye problem
  • have sight in one eye only, i.e. you are effectively blind in your worse eye
  • have a hearing impairment and are profoundly deaf
  • suffer from retinitis pigmentosa
  • have Black African, Black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi family origins
  • are at risk of eye disease by other reasons of race or family history

See you optometrist for further details.

Raising a concern about the Eye Health Examination Wales service - Eye Care Wales

Do I have to get my glasses from the same optician who performed the sight-test?
No. You can take your prescription away with you if you wish and get it dispensed elsewhere. There is competition in the supply of glasses and contact lenses and you can shop around for best value if you wish.

What do I do if I have lost or damaged my glasses/lenses?
Under certain circumstances, and where the loss is not covered by any warranty or insurance, you may be eligible for a voucher towards the cost of their repair or replacement, providing you originally obtained them using an NHS optical voucher.

Children under 16 are entitled to a voucher for repair or replacement, but for all patients above this age, the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership must be satisfied that the loss or damage was due to illness before approving the issue of a repair/replacment voucher and before any repairs are undertaken.

What if I have a problem with my optician?

If you have had difficulties getting an appointment in an optometry (opticians) practice for an eye problem that needs urgent attention, please use the following link:http://www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk/raising-a-concern-around-the-ehew-servic

If you are dissatisfied with the service or conduct of your optical practitioner, you should try to resolve any difficulties directly with the practice.

If you cannot reach an amicable agreement with the practice you can refer the matter to your local Trading Standards office, or Health Board if an NHS patient. You can also contact the Optical Consumer Complaints Service.

In cases where allegations arise regarding a registered optometrist or dispensing optician's fitness to practice, investigations can be instigated by the General Optical Council.

The General Optical Council (GOC) 
The GOC is the statutory body which regulates dispensing opticians and optometrists. The GOC aims to protect the public and promote high standards of professional conduct and education amongst opticians. It provides advice and guidance regarding standards. 

The Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) 
The OCCS is an independent body set up to settle complaints from members of the public who are not satisfied with the optical services they have received in an optical practice. 

The College of Optometrists 
The College is the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry in the UK. The College issues guidelines for professional conduct, facilitates registration under GOC approval and supports research into optometry and ophthalmic-related subjects. 

See also under individual Health Boards for information on how optical services are arranged on a local basis.