person wearing prescription glasses - free student eye tests
person wearing prescription glasses - free student eye tests

Free Student Eye Tests 2024

Your guide to free student eye tests and where to get them.

Looking for free student eye tests? You’ve come to the right place; take a seat, get comfy.

Whether you regularly wear glasses, opt for contact lenses, or just worried about your eyesight, getting an eye test is super important — especially for you students. 

Long nights spent typing hunched over a laptop, two-hour long lectures straining your eyes to see the board, all-nighters with your flatmates, it’s no wonder your eyes may need a little TLC.

We know adding another thing on your ‘Life Admin’ to-do list is not what you’re after, but we promise you it’s worth your time. 

Prevention is easier than curing, so getting regular eye tests will help you stay on top of your eye health. So, once you’ve settled into university, make it your utmost priority to book an eye test at your local opticians. Your eyes will thank you.

A student budget may not be able to stretch very far at the best of times, but here are some ways you may be entitled to free student eye tests.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Free Student Eye Tests

Can students get free eye tests?

Students can get free eye tests, but you have to be aged 16, 17, or 18, and be in full-time education. Sorry part-timers!

However, there are some exceptions, though. 

Looking for student discounts on eye tests and opticians? We’ve got you.

Do uni students get free eye tests?

Unfortunately, university students can’t get a free eye test under the NHS due to the majority being older than 18. If that’s you, then you’ll have to pay for an eye test in most circumstances.

What is the cost of an eye test in the UK?

The cost of an eye test for students varies. 

Most typical eye tests will cost between £20-£25. The price differs depending on your opticians location (London will probably be more pricey) or the size of the opticians chain (smaller, independent companies may charge less).

Do students pay for glasses?

University students have to pay for glasses unless exempt and eligible for help with funding. 

The funding (given by the NHS) is known as ‘Optical Vouchers’ and you’re eligible for them if you:

  • Are under 16 years of age
  • Are 16, 17, or 18 and in full-time education
  • Are a prisoner on leave from prison

How often can I have a free NHS sight test?

Most people should get an eye test every 2 years to keep on top of their eye health and prevent deterioration.

It’s also recommended that people eligible for a free NHS eye test should also have their eyes tested every 2 years, but you should speak to your practitioner or optometrist if you want to have one more often. 

Do apprentices get free eye tests?

If you’re 16, 17, or 18 and in full-time education, including an apprenticeship, you’re entitled to free eye tests on the NHS. 

Eye tests are important, you only get one pair in your lifetime!

Did you know you can get free student eye tests in selected stores (and on the NHS)? We’re going to show you how and where to get free eye tests, student discounts at the opticians and information on why getting your eyes tested regularly is super important.

Places uni students can get a free eye test

glasses on display - free student eye tests

Places like Tesco, Boots and Specsavers used to offer free student eye tests, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. 

So, do students get free eye tests anywhere anymore? Below are other places to get free student eye tests, get low-cost eye tests or discounts on eyewear if you’re a student.

Ace & Tate FREE student eye test

Ace & Tate offers free eye tests for students.

Plus, we do an exclusive Ace & Tate student discount, where you can get a £10 voucher when you spend £100 or more on prescription glasses.

Check out these Ace & Tate locations to find your local branch and book an eye test.

NHS student eye tests

The NHS offers vouchers towards your eye tests and eyewear under certain conditions.

You’re entitled to a free NHS sight test if you:

  • Are under 16
  • Are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education (excluding university)
  • Are 60 or over
  • Are registered as partially sighted or blind
  • Have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • Are 40 or over and your mother, father, sibling or child has been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • Have been advised by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) that you’re at risk of glaucoma
  • Are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • Are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher (your optician can advise you about your entitlement).

Boots opticians student eye tests

Boots also no longer offer free eye tests (unless eligible under NHS regulations), but they do offer a generous Boots opticians student discount at 10% off prescription glasses and more.

Acuitis Opticians & Hearing Care

Get a free eye test and 2 for 1 on glasses with our Acuitis Opticians student discount.

Rawlings Opticians

Get a 15% Rawlings Opticians student discount on all eyewear.

Feel Good Contacts

Get 16% off if you’re a new customer, or 5% student discount for existing customers at Feel Good Contacts.

Vision Express

Get 20% off student discount at Vision Express or save 30% when you spend £50 or more in-store, and a free eye test. Winner winner.

M&S Opticians

Who knew M&S had an opticians? M&S opticians are offering a 20% student discount and you can get a free online hearing check, too. Two in one!

Vision Direct

Vision Direct have a 5% student discount or a 12% student discount for new users (plus a free online trial of their best-seller everclear ELITE).


Specsavers don’t offer free eye tests for students, but they do offer a 25% student discount which you can use against glasses priced £69 and above. If you’re after an eye test but can’t afford it, an online eye test may be useful in letting you know if you should make an appointment for a proper eye test.

What is the cost of an eye test in the UK?

The typical price for an eye test is between £20-£25, depending on whether you use local opticians or a larger chain.

However, if you are entitled to any of the following, or you’re under 20 years old and are the dependant of someone receiving any of the following, you may be entitled to an optical voucher, helping towards the cost of your glasses.

  • Income support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit

Are eye tests free in Scotland?

If you are a UK resident, you can get a free NHS eye examination in Scotland. Scotland is actually the only country in the UK to provide free universal NHS eye examinations – lucky.

These eye checks are different from those you may have had in other parts of the UK. It is not just to test your sight, it’s a more thorough examination to check the health of your eyes, and to look for signs of other health problems. It means that any problems you have with your eyes can be found before they become more serious.

However, there are certain types of eye examinations that incur a fee. Check out the NHS guide to eye examinations in Scotland for more information.

Do students pay for glasses?

professional in laboratory looking at slide. Free student eye tests

If you’re between 16-18 years old and in full-time education (excluding university), then you’re eligible for a free NHS optical voucher to use towards the cost of a pair of glasses, meaning free glasses for students (in some cases. No pun intended!).

You are also entitled to an NHS optical voucher if you:

  • Are under 16
  • Are a prisoner or on leave from prison
  • Are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher
  • Complex lens vouchers are offered by the NHS for those who have lenses of -10/+10 dioptres or more, or prism-controlled bifocal lenses. These vouchers are worth £14.90 for single vision lenses and £38.15 for bifocal lenses
  • Students over 18 can also get an HC1 form used to assess their income and based on this, may be entitled to a free sight test and even help towards the cost of glasses. You can get an HC1 form from an optician or pharmacy.

Obviously, being a student means being on a tight budget, so take advantage of student discounts and free services such as free eye tests where possible.

Reasons to get an eye test

Getting your eyes tested regularly can ensure any problems are caught early and corrected. Here’s a whole list of reasons to regularly get your eyes tested:

  • Having the correct prescription for your eyes can help improve quality of life
  • They can detect conditions you may not realise you have, such as cataracts, glaucoma and more
  • Good vision ensures your safety in everyday life
  • Check if your current prescription needs updating to be stronger or weaker
  • To check if you meet the legal requirements to drive or operate other vehicles
  • Eyes can’t be replaced!

Poor eyesight signs

You might think it’s obvious when your eyesight starts to deteriorate but there are many signs (subtle and not) that you may not realise is a cause for concern.

Some signs of poor eyesight may include:

  • Objects look blurry or ‘fuzzy’
  • Objects appear to have a ‘halo’ around it in bright light settings
  • Headaches (caused by straining or squinting)
  • Glare when looking a vehicle lights or in bright sun
  • Double vision
  • Needing a brighter light to read
  • Eyesight is worse when driving/things moving

If you have any of these signs or similar, it’s worth making an appointment with your opticians for a eye test just to be sure and prevent anything from getting worse.

How do I prove that I qualify for a free eye test?

We’ve put together a table to show what proof you need to show for your free eye test.

Reason you qualify for free eye testWhat you can show as proof you qualify
Aged 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time educationPassport, student card, or driving license
Aged 60 or overNational Insurance number, passport, or driving license
Registered as partially-sighted or blindCertificate of registration as partially-sighted or blind
Diagnosed with diabetesDoctor’s name and surgery address
Diagnosed with glaucomaStatement that you are a glaucoma sufferer
Advised by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) that you’re at risk of glaucomaStatement that you are at risk of developing glaucoma
You are receiving benefits that entitle you to NHS funding for eyecareAn entitlement letter stating the benefits you receive
Your partner is receiving benefits that entitle you to NHS funding for eyecarePartners need to: be married or living together; have all of their partner’s details; and be able to prove the benefit received
You or your partner are receiving Pension Credit Guarantee CreditAward notice from the Pension Centre
Entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificateA valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
In need of complex lensesNo proof needed – the optician will decide during the eye test if complex lenses are required

Hopefully now you’re seeing things clearly, feast your eyes on our delicious student recipe playlist – brimming with simple and budget-friendly easy eats.

We hope this has given you all the information you need about eye tests as a student and eyewear. Sign up to Student Beans to redeem our free eye test offers or get discounts on eyewear.