Health Q&As: expired medicine and free eye tests

Dr David Roche / 18 August 2014

Saga Magazine's GP, Dr Roche, answers questions about expired medicine and who qualifies for free eye tests.

Can I use medicine after its sell-by date?

I keep liquid nurofen in my medicine and have a lot left in a bottle that is about to go out of date. Should I buy another, or is it perfectly safe to use it once it’s gone beyond its sell-by date?

As you might expect I am not in a position to be able to recommend using a medicine that has gone out of date! There are often healthy safety margins in the calculation of these dates but they are there for a very good reason. Everyone needs to be able to rely on the effectiveness of medicines and so they go through rigorous testing before they are licensed for use. How long it stays effective for is an important consideration, particularly for suspensions and syrups which are less stable than tablets and capsules.

I would suggest that you splash out and buy a new bottle.

Why do I have to pay for my eye test?

Who is entitled to a free annual eye test? I am 74 and have myopia and astigmatism with glaucoma in one eye. In the past I have always been advised to have an annual eye test, so I was surprised when I phoned my optician to be told it would cost £20, or I could wait another year for a free one.

Answer: Entitlement to a free NHS eye test is a fairly complicated business. There is a comprehensive list of who qualifies on the NHS choices website. Use the search facility to look for ‘free eye tests’. The web pages also give information about how often you are entitled to be tested.

You would appear to qualify under two categories, that you are over 60 years and have glaucoma. I suspect the problem is not that you do not qualify but that you are requesting a test too soon after having the previous one. You can only have an additional test like this if the optician feels it is necessary on clinical grounds. If not then you will need to pay for the test.

Your glaucoma should be being monitored by a hospital eye department or sometimes a combination of the eye department and your local optician.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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