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NHS optician is still the term most of us associate with their eye healthcare professional.  However, the term is being used less and less within the profession and it is important you know who you are dealing with when you have your eyecare appointment.

When you visit an optician, you'll have your sight tested by an ophthalmic practitioner, which can mean either an optometrist or an ophthalmic medical practitioner.  An ophthalmic practitioner will check the quality of your vision and eye health.  Both optometrists and ophthalmic medical practitioners are trained to recognise abnormalities and signs of any eye disease such as cataracts or glaucoma.

If necessary, they will refer you on a specialist doctor or eye surgeon for further advice and treatment.  They also prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses.


NHS Sight Tests

An NHS sight test is free of charge if clinically necessary.  It is up to your ophthalmic practitioner to decide whether a sight test is necessary in your case or not.  If you ask for a sight test and it is not considered clinically necessary, you may have to pay for it even if you are usually entitled to a free NHS sight test.

Children may not realise that there’s anything wrong with their sight.  Eye examinations are available free of charge to all children under 16.  They don’t have to be able to read to have one.  Ask your health visitor or school nurse for further advice or book an appointment with an optometrist directly.


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