Patient Information

Contact lens service


The Royal Eye unit at Kingston hospital can provide contact lenses to some patients.

Who is eligible for contact lenses?

We only provide contact lenses if you have a ‘medical need’ for them. Usually, this is when vision cannot be improved with spectacles but can be improved with contact lenses. For example, patients with the following conditions would normally be eligible:

  • keratoconus
  • corneal distortion
  • very high prescriptions (over +/- 15D) and scarred or white corneas.

Lenses can also be fitted to relieve pain or to make a damaged eye look better.

Close up of person holding contact lens near eye

If you think you are eligible for this service, speak with your ophthalmologist.

We do not offer lenses if you can get normal vision with spectacles.

Once we have fitted your contact lenses, you may be discharged from hospital care if you can buy the contact lenses from high street optometrists (opticians).

How do I get contact lenses?

Man having eyes examined through split lamp microscope

If you are eligible for contact lenses through our service, your ophthalmologist will refer you for an assessment with our specialist optometrist. They will then choose the best lens for what you need.

You must bring to your appointment a current (within the last 2 years) eye examination prescription (sight test).

Finding the right lens can sometimes take a bit of time. The lenses are often complex and usually need to be specially made for you. It can take a few appointments to get the most accurate fitting.

You will be able to take your final lenses home once you are confident getting them in and out.  At this appointment, we will also given you instructions on how to handle and care for your lenses.

If you require a repeat prescription, email the REU helpdesk.

Will I have to pay for my lenses?

You will need to pay for your lenses unless:

  • you receive income support, guaranteed pension credit, or equivalent
  • you need a lens as a ‘bandage’ or ‘prosthesis’, or for aphakia.
  • you are aged under 16
  • you are aged 16 to 18, in full-time education.

Even if you are eligible for free lenses, you will still have to pay for replacing lost or damaged lenses.

If you can afford it, it is sensible to buy spare lenses just in case your first pair get lost or damaged.

If you are on low income, you can apply to the Department of Social Security (DSS) for a contribution towards the cost of your lenses. You will need to fill in form HC1 (available from DSS offices).

If I have to pay, how much does it cost?

The cost of contact lenses is set nationally by the NHS and is updated every year on 1st April.

The clinic has the most up-to-date prices. In 2023, it is £60.75 for a single standard contact lens or, where appropriate, six months’ supply of soft/hybrid lenses.

The same charges apply for replacement lenses, or if a lens breaks outside the three-month manufacturers’ warranty period.

Note: we only take card payment.

What happens if I break or lose my lens?

If you break or lose a lens you will need to pay for the replacement, even if your first set were on the NHS.

Call our helpdesk to explain how the lens broke. We can then give you better handling tips for the future.

How do I order replacement lenses?

Email our helpdesk to order replacement lenses.

How long will the replacement take?

Times vary but it usually takes a few weeks for new lenses to be made.

  • Hybrid lenses take around 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Rigid gas permeable (corneal) lenses take around 2 weeks
  • Scleral contact lenses take around 6 to 8 weeks
  • Cosmetic soft contact lenses take around 2 to 6 weeks.

How can I get contact lens solutions?

We will given you one month’s supply of solution when you first get your contact lenses. You can then buy more solution from most opticians.

Should I wear my contact lenses to the appointment?

If you can tolerate your lenses, please wear them when you come in. We can then see the effect of the lenses on your eyes.

What if I have a problem with my lenses?

If you are having a problem with your contact lens and cannot wait until your next appointment, email our helpdesk to request an earlier appointment. You will not be seen in the contact lens clinic without an appointment.

What if it’s urgent?

If you have a problem whilst wearing a lens (such as blurry vision, pain or redness), first remove the lens to see if the problem clears. If it resolves, go through your usual cleaning/disinfecting routine and reinsert the lens to see if the problem happens again. You may want to wait a day before putting them back in.

If the problem doesn’t clear up, email the helpdesk.

If you need urgent help, contact the Acute Referral Clinic.

Close up of inflamed red eye
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Royal Eye Unit helpdesk 020 8934 6404
Acute referral clinic 020 8934 6799

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