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Eye Care Wales

Welcome to the Welsh Eye Care Service. This service is here to help anyone:
Who is worried about their sight or the sight of a relative or friend. If you or someone you know has an eye problem – whether it’s an emergency or your sight is gradually getting worse -- you should see a high street optometrist (also known as an optician) straight away. In many cases it won’t cost you anything and could save your sight. 

Who has a vision impairment (something wrong with your eyes that glasses or contact lenses won’t correct). IN this case it is likely that you will be able to get all sorts of help, including free magnifiers and other Low Vision Aids (LVAs). 
A visit to an optometrist is free if:

  • You’re 16 or under
  • You’re a full-time student aged 16,17 or 18
  • You’re over 60
  • You’re on certain benefits (Income Support, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credit, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance)
  • You’re named on a valid HC2W certificate
  • You’re registered sight impaired or severely sight impaired
  • You have diabetes
  • You have glaucoma or are considered to be at risk of glaucoma by an ophthalmologist
  • You are over 40 and are the genetic father, mother, sibling or child of someone with glaucoma
  • You have been prescribed complex lenses under the NHS optical voucher scheme
  • If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses through the NHS Low Income Scheme.  

If you reside in Wales and have a GP in Wales, All optometrists can also offer a free eye test if:

  • You have an eye problem that needs urgent attention
  • You have sight in one eye only
  • You have a hearing impairment and/or are profoundly deaf
  • You suffer from retinitis pigmentosa
  • You are of Black or Asian ethnicity
  • You have seen your GP and they want you to see an optometrist


Emergencies or if you have an eye problem that needs urgent attention

If you have any concerns at all about your eyes, see a High Street optometrist (also known as an optician) straightaway. He or she will tell you if you are eligible for a free eye health examination. This examination is known as an Examination for urgent eye problems and this available under the Wales General Ophthalmic Services. Some eye diseases can lead to blindness or some loss of vision, but if detected early enough, your eyesight can often be saved.

As part of an examination for an urgent eye problem the optometrist will carefully examine your eyes to see if anything is wrong. The tests and equipment they use will depend on what you tell them and what they find. An eye examination for an urgent eye problem is more in-depth than and different to a routine vision test so it may take longer. If the optometrist decides you need an examination for an urgent eye problem, it won’t cost you anything.

You can find an optometrist on most High Streets in Wales. If you have a sight problem, you can go to your existing optometrist (if you have one) or just phone or walk into any practice that is convenient for you to get to. 


Low vision or long-term poor vision

Low vision simply means not being able to see as well as most other people even when you’re wearing glasses or contact lenses. For example, you would probably have low vision if you have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

If you already have a vision impairment or low vision, an optometrist can help you make the best use of the sight you have. They start by carrying out a low vision assessment. This assessment could, for instance, show that magnifiers or better lighting at home would help you. They can also advise you about other people and organisations who may be able to help you with transport, benefits or simple things to make life easier around the house.

Certain magnifiers and low vision aids (LVAs) are provided by the Wales General Opthalmic Service for Low Vision and paid for by the Welsh Government. So they won’t cost you a penny.

You can, of course, buy LVAs yourself. Your local resource centre (sometimes run by a charity) can show you a range of products. 


Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common single cause of blindness among people with diabetes aged between 16 and 64 in Britain. It is a complication of the eye that can affect anyone who has diabetes, regardless of type or treatment.

Regular diabetic eye screening is essential to protect your eyesight as early detection is the key to successful treatment. Good glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol control can also reduce your risk of developing sight threatening complications.


Certificate of Visual Impairment Wales (CVIW)

You can find out more about the CVIW and registering as sight impaired at:

Certification and Registration patient information