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Local Services

Opticians - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find an optician?

What are the different types of optician?

How can I get an eye test?

What optical care and services are available under the NHS?

When am I entitled to a free eye examination?

Do I have to get my glasses from the same optician who performed the sight-test?

What do I do if I have lost or damaged my glasses/lenses?

What if I have a problem with my optician?

How do I find an optician?
To find an optician you can search our directory of opticians, call us on 0845 46 47 for us to search for you or look in the Yellow Pages.

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

  • Optometrists - aslo 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 on war pensionners entitlement and other health costs can be found in the bookletHC11W NHS Charges and The Low Income Scheme and the help with health costs website.

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.

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 are disatisfied 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.

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