Optician is a general term that covers both optometrists and dispensing opticians.
Optometrists carry out sight tests to check the quality of your vision and eye health. They look for signs of eye disease which may need treatment from a doctor or eye surgeon and prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses.
Dispensing opticians fit glasses and contact lenses, but do not test eyes. They can give you advice on types of lens, such as single-vision or bifocal, and help you to choose frames.
When you visit an optician you may have your sight tested by an optometrist or an ophthalmic medical practitioner. They are trained to recognise abnormalities and diseases in the eye, such as cataract and glaucoma.
After the sight test the optician will give you a statement (prescription) and, if you need them, may offer to fit you with spectacles or contact lenses.
You may be entitled to help with health costs. Advice is available on the NHS Business Services Authority website.
To find your nearest optician, enter your postcode in the 'Find a Service' location finder to the right of this page.