Free eye examinations


Optometry services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Community optometry practices (opticians) have resumed providing routine eyecare services in all settings. This includes regular eye examinations and contact lens check-ups.

You should always tell your optometrist if you or someone you live with has any signs or symptoms of coronavirus. This will help them ensure the safety of you and others when you receive care.


All eye examinations are free in Scotland to those ordinarily resident in the UK or exempt from NHS charges.

Regular free eye health check

It’s important for your eyes to be regularly examined by an optometrist, even if you don’t think you have a problem with your vision.

An NHS funded eye examination in Scotland (called a primary eye examination) tests more than just your sight. It’s a more thorough examination to:

  • check the health of your eyes
  • look for signs of other health problems

It means that any problems with your eyes can be found before they become more serious.

How often should I have my eyes checked?

The decision to carry out an eye examination is a clinical decision made by your optometrist.

Primary eye examinations can only be undertaken at the following intervals:

Category of patient

Maximum frequency at which primary eye examinations are to be carried out

Patients aged under 16 years or 60 years and over


Patients aged between 16 years and 59 years


Patients with diabetes


Patients who are sight impaired or severely sight impaired


Emergency eye problems and ongoing diagnosis/review of conditions in the community


If you have an eye problem, your local opticians (optometry practice) should always be the first place you go to for help.


If your optometrist thinks it's clinically necessary you can still have your eyes examined for free at any time between primary eye examinations. These are called supplementary eye examinations.

Your optometrist might offer a supplementary eye examination if:

  • you have an emergency eye issue, for example a red or sticky eye, blurred or reduced vision, flashers and floaters or pain in or around your eye
  • they want to see you more often for the purposes of ongoing diagnosis or review of conditions such as glaucoma and ocular hypertension.

How to find a local optician

You can find a list of local opticians using our service directory.