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Eyesight: Testing

Volume 459: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Government has spent to provide free eye tests to pensioners in each year since 1997. (132909)

An estimate of national health service expenditure on sight tests for patients aged 60 and over is set out in the following table.

NHS expenditure on sight test provision for adults aged 60+ (£ million)

1999-2000

52.2

2000-01

60.7

2001-02

66.5

2002-03

70.0

2003-04

76.3

2004-05

80.2

2005-06

84.9

Free sight tests were extended to all those aged 60 and over from 1 April 1999. Prior to that, a number of patients of pensionable age would have qualified for NHS sight tests on other grounds, such as low income or because they had been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma, but data collected centrally did not differentiate such groups by age.

The figures in the table are based on the number who claimed entitlement by virtue of their age. The totals are likely to include those who might otherwise have qualified for sight tests on grounds such as low income.

Expenditure on sight test provision includes expenditure on domiciliary visit fees, employers’ superannuation costs, and help given to certain patients towards the cost of private sight tests.