Eye tests for older people
Our vision changes as we grow older, so it’s important to have regular eye checks, especially if there is a history of eye problems (glaucoma, for example) in your family.
If you’re experiencing problems with your vision or you’re concerned that you can’t see as well as you used to, visit an optician or a GP for an eye test and to get further advice. It’s recommended that those over the age of 70 have an eye test every year. Over-60s receive free eye tests on the NHS.
You can read about the best places to have an eye test in the Which? reviews comparing a range of opticians. The guide also offers advice on how to choose the right prescription glasses, talking you through the different types of lenses, coatings and expected cost.
If you have a mobility problem or you use a wheelchair, check that the optician’s building has suitable access. Some opticians will offer a home visit for people who can’t go to the clinic. If your optician doesn't do home visits, NHS England has a list of opticians in your area who are able to do home visits.
Changing eyesight is more common in older people but there are many different aids available to help ensure that your quality of life isn’t diminished.
Glasses and magnifiers can help you continue to enjoy activities such as reading and writing. There are also numerous lighting options that can improve general visibility around the home, which is particularly important in key rooms such as the kitchen or bathroom. For those with significant sight loss, everyday gadgets with built-in audio features are available, including talking clocks, watches and calendars.
For the kitchen, you can also purchase microwaves and weighing scales that include audio features.
Go to the RNIB online shop for more information.
If you need further help, call the RNIB helpline:
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How to register as partially blind
When you’re referred to an eye specialist (or ophthalmologist) they will be able to advise if it’s necessary for you to be certified as sight impaired and, if so, to what degree. They will also complete the certificate confirming the result of the examination.
This information will then be passed to your local social services team, who will be able to advise on the support available locally. They will also ask if you would like to be registered as partially sighted. Being registered means you will be included on a confidential register of people who are sight impaired, held by your local social services.
Being on the register will allow you to access a number of concessions, including free public transport and tax allowances. You can find more information about registering your sight loss and the benefits involved on the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) website.
Many people begin to experience ear problems as they get older and, sometimes, this begins to hinder their quality of life. If you’re concerned about your hearing, it’s best to seek help. Hearing tests are free on the NHS and are painless.
If you think you may be experiencing hearing problems but you aren’t sure, there are some signs you can ask someone to help you look out for.
- Do they notice that you listen to the radio at an unusually high volume?
- Do you find that you’re often repeating yourself during everyday conversations?
- Are you speaking louder than you normally need to?
If the answers to these questions are yes, it may be time to make an appointment with your GP. To get a free NHS hearing test, you have to be referred by your GP. You may wish to ask a family member or friend to accompany you to a GP appointment if you feel anxious about it.
You may have to wait a long time for a free NHS appointment. If this feels too long, you might prefer to look into buying hearing aids privately.
For everything you need to know about buying and using hearing aids, from NHS assessments to private hearing aid providers, read the guide on hearing aid providers in Which? Home & garden.
People over the age of 60 are eligible for free prescriptions. Read about prescription payment and collection options.
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