Our team of mobile opticians can provide essential eyecare, from routine eye tests to updating glasses prescriptions, for those who are unable to visit a store unaccompanied, in the comfort of their own home.
To help you find out more about the service, we asked Dawn Roberts, clinical director of Specsavers Home Visits, to answer some common questions about our home eyecare.

Why might someone need to use our home visits service?

The majority of our home visit customers are older — the average age is around 82 — and have conditions that make them unable to leave home, such as arthritis, stroke or dementia. We also see younger people who are vulnerable and cannot leave their home unaccompanied due to a medical reason.

There are a few criteria that someone needs to meet to qualify for our home visits service. As most of the work we do is funded by the NHS, you firstly need to qualify for an NHS eye test, so this includes the normal categories of receiving certain state benefits or having glaucoma or diabetes, etc. On top of this, a person needs to be unable to leave their home unaccompanied due to a physical or mental illness or disability.
Find out more about our eligibility criteria here.

What is the difference between home eye tests and in-store tests?

Despite not being exactly the same as you would have in store, we can still check the health of the eyes at home, looking for any signs of a more serious eye condition, as well as testing the overall quality of your vision, and updating glasses prescriptions where necessary.

Our home eye tests are tailored for the home environment. For example, we test at 3 metres rather than at 6 metres, as most people want to use their distance glasses for watching television, rather than driving. We might also use the TV as well as the letter chart because the letter chart might not give absolute clarity to the TV, so we might modify the prescription so they can see the television clearly.

Of course, there are certain pieces of specialist equipment we’d normally use in store that aren’t suitable for home eye tests, or we don’t have portable versions of them. So if we feel further testing might be needed, we’ll report back and refer people to their GP if necessary.

What are some common concerns customers might have about home eye tests?

People often ask, particularly for someone who has dementia or has suffered from a stroke that has affected their speech, ‘how do you arrive at a prescription for someone who cannot communicate with you?’. 

For these cases, we use objective methods to assess the prescription, such as retinoscopy. The visiting optician uses a retinoscope to look at the way the light reflects on the back of the eye and how it moves. They test this with various different lenses until they get a reaction from the light that indicates clearer vision. With this method, we can easily arrive at a prescription without the customer telling us anything.

You find out more about home eye tests for people with dementia here

Are customers able to choose a new pair of glasses during a home visit?

Yes — in fact, our visiting opticians carry a large selection of frames with them which is constantly being refreshed. If you have seen a frame on our website that we don’t have with us on the day of your test, we can order it and get it for you.

Typically, we deliver the glasses ourselves to ensure that the frames fit correctly, however this has changed slightly since COVID-19. To minimise the amount of contact we have with some of the more vulnerable people we see, our opticians will take all of the necessary frame measurements in advance during the initial eye test, and then post the glasses when they’re ready.

If your frames don’t feel quite right or are rubbing or keep falling down, all you need to do is call us and we’ll come and adjust them. It doesn’t matter how many times this happens, we just want to make sure you’re happy with them

What precautions are Specsavers taking during their home visits to keep customers safe during COVID-19?

We’ve added some additional measures to our home visits to make sure our customers and colleagues feel as safe and comfortable as possible. For example, all of our home visiting teams will wear full PPE during each home visit, and have undergone training on this to minimise infection during our home eye tests. Everything that we touch within a customer’s home will be sanitised afterwards, and our team will always practice rigorous hand washing before and after seeing customers. Depending on the customer, we might even miss out tests that are not necessary to their individual needs in order to reduce the time we spend in close contact.

Find out more about how we’re keeping you safe at home here.

How can I book a home eye test? And can tests be booked on behalf of a friend or relative?

To book a home eye test, you’ll need to call your local home visits team, who can be found here. They’ll ask you some questions to make sure you’re eligible for a home eye test before an appointment is arranged.

An appointment may also be made by a carer, family member or anyone representing the individual. If the third party making the appointment wanted to know the outcome of the eye test, then we would need consent from the customer (in-line with data protection regulation) unless they are unable to give it.

Can a carer who struggles to get someone to ‘cover’ for them have a test at home too?

Unfortunately we can’t provide a free NHS-funded home eye test for carers if they do not meet the eligibility criteria. We can only provide home eye tests for those that meet the criteria and are unable to leave their home unaccompanied.

Do Specsavers offer diabetic screening at home?

Our teams can check for signs of diabetic retinopathy at home, and report any signs or symptoms to a customer’s GP, but visiting opticians are unable to offer diabetic screening at home. Those who are able to attend annual retinal screening appointments should still do so, as a normal eye test is not a replacement for the annual NHS diabetic screening programme. 

Read more about how we can test for diabetic eye problems at home.

Can care home residents have home eye tests?

Yes, they can — many of the people we see live in care homes. Eye tests are usually organised by the manager of the care home, typically for a number of residents. For more information on this service, visit our care home page.

There are so many people in need of home eyecare services that don’t even know it exists. If you or someone you know is in need of a home eye test, our visiting opticians are here to help. Visit our eligibility page to see if you qualify for a free NHS-funded home visit, then request an appointment on our home eye tests page.