As a person whose eyes were always changing prescription, due to the nature of his sinus cancer giving him double vision, disorientation, reading and other problems, it was constantly difficult to make a decision on whether or not to get a new pair of prescription eye glasses made every month or so.
If I decided not to get a new pair of prescription eye glasses made, I would be forced to use my old (current) out-of-focus eye glasses. And if I decided to get new eye glasses made, it would cost me at least £25 per month for a very basic, ugly, pair of frames. Never mind the frames and monthly expenses though. The real problem was getting an eye test.
In normal circumstances the average person in the street either pays up to £20 for an eye test, receives a discount voucher directly from the optician for an eye test or has a gp referral for an eye test. And when you are diabetic and/or have a tax credit exemption card you are entitled to a free nhs eye test every two years anyway. So getting some sort of discounted or free eye test these days is not really dependent on you having a health condition such as diabetes or cancer.
The problem I faced was that SpecSavers and other opticians only wanted to give me a free nhs eye test when I was entitled to one, which should of been every two years. When I told SpecSavers for example I was willing to pay for a private eye test they literally did not want to entertain me, stating "You just had an eye test 6 months ago.....". They wanted a reason for me having an eye test.
To me, if I am paying I should be able to have a private eye test every day if I want to. I can only suspect they like to perform eye tests on nhs clients only, probably because they can claim some sort of subsidy from the nhs. Either way, I had to get an oncologist's or doctor's referral letter each time I wanted a new pair of eye glasses.
When it comes to getting discounted or free eye glasses you will almost certainly need a tax credit exemption card or some other kind of income support based benefit. In my case I could either get a free pair of nhs eye glasses (i.e. £25 frames and eye glasses from SpecSavers) or get discount on a 'full purchase' (i.e. £89 frames and eye glasses from SpecSavers) designer pair of eye glasses using my tax credit exemption card; which I wanted to do, but could not.
I should of paid nothing for my £125 designer eye glasses, but was told because my prescription had not changed (although it did change slightly by 0.25 on my long distance sight) I could not use my tax exemption card towards the payment. In other words, I was not eligible for a discount voucher simply because, according to SpecSavers, the nhs does not pay when a prescription only has a slight change of 0.25. They technically see it as you having an existing pair of eye glasses that should work, give or take 0.25.
I would of thought a change of 0.25, which can be the difference between clear and blurred vision, would of been automatically classed as a change of prescription. Suffice to say, because I wanted a better looking pair of eye glasses, I was forced to pay the £125 myself. Fortunately, after asking the manager for a discount, I got free anti-reflection/anti-scratch protection on one of my eye glasses (worth £30) while my girlfriend paid for anti-reflection/anti-scratch protection on my second pair of eye glasses.
I did not challenge their decision simply because I did not have the energy, will and care to. I was more ashamed of the nhs and SpecSavers, regardless of who was to blame, for allowing this practise.
NOTE: With some opticians you need a referral letter from an oncologist or gp for example before that optician will allow you an eye test, especially if you have recently had an eye test. This is because the nhs normally only allows one eye test within a two year period.