§ Mr. Harvey
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average cost of eye tests was in each year since 1979; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Denham
National Health Service sight tests are provided by community opticians at no charge to the patient. Prior to 1989 there was universal entitlement but, from 1 April 1989, eligibility was restricted to children, people on low incomes and people suffering from or predisposed to certain eye diseases. With effect from 1 April 1999 we restored eligibility to everyone aged 60 or over so that less than 50 per cent. of the population now has to pay for private sight tests. The cost of a private sight test varies between optical practices.