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How much does a private eye test cost in the UK?

One of the big questions that people ask about private healthcare is ‘How much does a private eye test cost?’. Lots of people pay every time they go to the opticians for an eye test, and the cost can vary depending on the optician that you use.

The average cost of a private eye test in the UK is between £25 and £30, which is based on prices from the top opticians in the UK (including Boots and Specsavers).

While this isn’t a major cost, it can add up to a significant amount of money over time. According to information found on vitality.co.uk, UK residents will spend as much as £17,471 on eyecare throughout their lifetime.

In this guide, our health insurance experts look at how much private eye tests cost with different opticians and how private health insurance can help you to pay for this. Not all health insurance policies will automatically include eye care, but you can usually add this on for an extra cost.

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60-Second Summary – How much does a private eye test cost in the UK?

If you live in the UK, an eye test will cost around £25 – £30 every time you visit your local opticians. Some people qualify for free eye tests through the NHS, but most people would need to cover this cost themselves.

UK health insurance companies like Vitality, National Friendly, and WPA allow you to add ‘optical care’ to your cover, which can help to cover the cost of routine eye tests and prescription glasses.

  • Based on our research ASDA Opticians was the cheapest option for a private eye test (£24). The more expensive options include M&S Opticians, Orrell Opticians, and Vision Express (all £30).
  • The NHS recommends that you should have an eye test every 2 years to check your vision and your eye health.
  • You can normally pay for the cost of eye tests and glasses directly, in instalments, or through your health insurance company (specific insurers).
  • Most health insurance companies won’t include cover for eye tests automatically, and you would need to add this to your policy as an additional benefit.
  • You will normally be able to add dental cover to your health insurance policy at the same time as adding optical cover, as these benefits tend to be grouped together.

The price of a private eye test in the UK will vary slightly based on the opticians that you choose. Below, our experts have compiled a list of the most recently published prices for private eye tests in the UK.

The average cost of an eye test UK:

Note: People in Scotland are entitled to free eye tests which are funded by the NHS. You may also be eligible for a free eye test if you have certain medical conditions (e.g. diabetes), are 15 years old or younger, or receive benefits like Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Is it better to go to a private optician?

It’s not necessarily ‘better’ to go to a private optician, but most people in the UK won’t qualify for free eyecare through the NHS. It’s important to take care of our eye’s health and it’s recommended by the NHS to go for an eye test every 2 years to check for problems. All opticians are trained to both check your vision and identify if there is anything ‘abnormal’ present, such as cataracts.

You should book an eye test sooner than this if you have noticed any changes in your vision, or increased headaches or other issues associated with your eyesight.

What Happens In A Sight Test | Specsavers

Some people are worried about booking eye tests, especially if they have not had one for a long time and are unsure of what to expect. This short video from Specsavers explains what happens during a sight test to make this clearer for you.

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Several health insurance companies will allow you to add on optical cover for an extra cost, which can sometimes help with the price of private eye tests. Some insurers won’t cover eye tests but will cover costs such as new lenses for your glasses if your prescription has changed.

This benefit is usually bundled with dental cover as well, as private dental care can be extremely expensive if you pay privately for it.

Not all insurers offer optical care as an additional benefit, and our experts have created the table below to help you understand which insurance companies are best in this area.

Health insurance companyCan I add on optical cover?
Aviva logoYES – You can add dental and optical benefit to your policy which pays out up to £150 towards glasses and contact lenses.
AXA Health logoNO – AXA does not pay out for optical care within personal health insurance policies.  
You can however buy AXA ‘dental and optical cash back’ plans for small business health insurance.
Bupa logoYES – You can speak to a nurse 24/7 for advice about your eyesight on the Bupa Anytime Healthline.  
You can also access Bupa eyecare on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis.
Freedom logoYES – Freedom Elite policies include dental, optical, and private GP services.  
This covers routine optician’s appointments and new glasses/lenses up to £200 maximum.
National Friendly logoYES – If you have optical cover added to your policy, you can claim for the cost of new glasses, contact lenses, glasses repairs, and laser eye treatments.
The Exeter logoNO – The Exeter doesn’t allow you to add optical care to standard health insurance policies.  
However, The Exeter’s ‘Health Cash Plan’ will provide cover for both dental and optical care (small business health insurance).   The optical cover pays out for eye tests, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.
Vitality logoYES – You can add ‘optical, dental, and hearing insurance’ to your Vitality health insurance policy.  
This pays out 100% of the costs for eye tests and new prescription glasses with Vision Express (up to £500 per year).  
Vitality covers up to 80% of the costs with other opticians (up to £300 per year).
WPA logoYES – If you add ‘Cash Extras’ to your WPA Complete Health policy, this will cover the cost of routine optical and dental treatment.  
There are two levels of cover available, so the limit for how much you can claim with be based on the level that you choose.

Note: You should consider all aspects of the health insurance policy that you choose, to ensure that it offers the right level of protection and that it is affordable for you and your family.

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There isn’t any major difference in quality between a private eye test and an NHS eye test. In fact, it’s normally the exact same test, with the only difference being that you pay for a private test yourself.

The NHS provides free regular eye tests for various groups of people across the UK, and most private opticians also offer NHS tests. You may be referred to the ophthalmology department at your local hospital if you require more in-depth tests or treatment, due to eye conditions like macular degeneration.

Some of the main reasons why you could be eligible for a free NHS eye test include:

  • You are under 16 years old.
  • You are 16, 17, or 18 and in full-time education.
  • You are over 60 years old.
  • You or your partner receive income support (Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance).
  • You have diabetes* or glaucoma.
  • You are blind or partially sighted.
  • You have a family history of serious eye conditions.

*this is due to the increased for eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy.

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Anyone can book a private eye test and they are available from most of the popular high street supermarkets and chemists. These tests will look at the quality of your eyesight, to assess if you need glasses or contact lenses to correct your vision.

They will often offer scans (e.g. OCT scans) as well, which check the health of your eyes to see if there are indications of serious conditions.

How do I pay for a private eye test?

There are various options for paying for your eye test, and many people choose to pay these costs out of their own pocket. The main options for paying for your eye tests and glasses are:

  1. Pay for the test yourself: Most people will just cover the cost of their eye test out of their own income. This can work well for people who only need an eye test every couple of years. Certain people require eye tests more frequently than this, which can become expensive.
  2. Pay in instalments: Some opticians (e.g. Vision Direct) allow you to ‘Shop now, pay later’ using finance companies like Klarna if you need to get new glasses following your eye test.
  3. Use your health insurance policy: Insurers like Vitality will cover routine optical care and eye tests if you add ‘optical benefit’ to your health insurance policy.

Health insurance is a newer option to pay for eyecare that is becoming more popular due to ongoing issues with the NHS. Health insurance will also provide access to private medical care, and you can buy policies that cover you, your partner, and your children (family plan).

If you need help with your new or existing health insurance policy, you can call our experts for free advice on 0800 009 6559 or CLICK HERE.

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What is the average cost of health insurance UK?

One of the top questions that people ask about health insurance is, ‘how much does it cost on average per month?’. According to recent research taken in 2023, the average cost of a health insurance is £86 per month for a standard personal protection policy. Health insurance policies can vary dramatically based on your age and the type of cover that you need, as well as which insurance provider you choose.

Most core health insurance policies will provide a similar level of protection and coverage for private medical treatments. You can tailor your health insurance policy to suit your needs and your budget by changing the benefits and levels of cover that you receive.

Is health insurance worth it?

Health insurance is the same as most other personal protection policies that you can buy, it is down to your own personal preference and attitude to risk. The other major issue is whether you can afford to pay for health insurance every month because it can be expensive.

If you ever need to claim on your health insurance policy then the benefits can be life changing and even lifesaving. The medical treatments and care that is provided by the NHS in the UK is among the best in the world, especially for chronic illness. Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that the NHS is struggling to meet demand and that the levels of private medical treatment are generally far superior to public health treatments.

Example: If you needed knee surgery then you would have to wait for months or even years on the NHS, whereas private health insurance will give you access to better treatment, leading specialists, and within weeks usually. Rehabilitation and therapies cover that are also provided by most health insurance policies can be invaluable, especially if you are self-employed for example.

Is private health insurance better than the NHS?

Currently, the biggest issue with the NHS is the waiting times for any consultations and access to treatments, because of how stretched its resources are. The NHS provides some of the best care in the world for chronic illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, MS, epilepsy, and asthma.

Health insurance is designed to complement and support the treatment that you can receive on the National Health Service, as well as giving you access to specialists for other medical issues such as musculoskeletal issues and cancer treatment, which are also the top reasons for claims on health insurance cover.

The main issues with NHS treatment currently and reasons for people taking out health insurance:

  • Long waiting lists for consultations, results and treatment
  • Overcrowded hospitals
  • Lack of beds
  • Shortages of NHS nurses and doctors
  • Some treatments not available (especially cancer treatments)
  • Specialists only available on private health insurance
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What is the best health insurance UK?

There are lots of different policy options when considering health insurance as well as your choice of several main insurance providers. The other consideration is whether you don’t take out health insurance and opt for receiving treatment on the NHS or paying for treatment yourself as and when you need it.

We’re constantly reviewing the top health insurance companies in the UK to find out which provide the best service, value, products and treatments. Based on our most recent reviews we suggest the following as the best health insurance UK 2023:

  1. Aviva Healthcare Solutions (Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5.0)
  2. BUPA Health Insurance (Trustpilot score: 4.0 out of 5.0)
  3. Vitality Personal Healthcare (Trustpilot score: 3.9 out of 5.0)
  4. Exeter Health+ (Trustpilot score: 4.4 out of 5.0)
  5. AXA PPP (Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5.0)
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Best Private Health Insurance 2023 - iam|INSURED

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