Health cost and free sight tests for over 60s

Most health treatment under the Health Service (HS) is free, although there can be charges for dental treatment.

Free prescriptions

Prescriptions are free in Northern Ireland and cover:

  • medication
  • wigs
  • surgical appliances

There is no eligibility test, everyone is automatically entitled.

Eligibility for free sight tests

If you’re aged between 16 and 70 it is normally recommended that you have your sight tested every two years. You may need to have your eyes tested more often if there is a clinical reason for doing so.

You are entitled to free HS sight tests if you:

  • are aged 60 or over
  • are a diagnosed glaucoma patient, or considered to be at risk of glaucoma (according to an ophthalmologist)
  • aged 40 or over and with a parent, brother, sister, son or daughter diagnosed with glaucoma
  • are diagnosed as diabetic
  • are registering as blind or as partially sighted
  • are eligible for an HS Complex Lens Voucher
  • receive, or your partner receives, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (the 'guarantee credit element')
  • are on Income Support,  income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income based Employment and Support Allowance
  • have a valid HS tax credit exemption certificate
  • have made an HS Low Income scheme claim and have a valid HS exemption certificate (HC2 or HC3)
  • are a war pensioner and need the sight test because of a disability for which you get a war pension

You may also get a voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • receive, or your partner receives, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (the 'guarantee credit' element)
  • are on Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • have a valid HS tax credit exemption certificate or have a valid HS exemption certificate (HC2 or HC3)

You may also be entitled to a voucher if you are prescribed complex lenses.

Help if you are on a low income

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with health costs by making a claim under the HS Low Income scheme. The amount of help you get will depend on the amount of income you have.

To apply for help, you'll need to complete form HC1. It is also available from some hospitals and Jobcentres. 

Help with other health costs

You may also be able to get help with:

  • HS dental charges, including check-ups
  • the cost of travel to receive HS treatment under the care of a consultant or through referral by a doctor or dentist
  • wigs and fabric supports, for example abdominal and spinal supports, and support tights
  • Hospital travel costs scheme

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