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HomeminewsDisability Student Allowance–The Optometrists obligations and charges

Disability Student Allowance–The Optometrists obligations and charges

General Background Information:

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a government grant available to students in higher education in the UK, who are obliged to incur additional study-related costs because of a disability. Provision of Precision Tinted Lenses is included within these costs.

The funds to address these disabilities are available to eligible students through the Disabled Students’ Allowance Service. The award is applicable only to students in higher education in universities and equivalent colleges (including the Open University) some The DSA award service operates entirely independently of the student’s college or university.


The funds to address these disabilities are available to eligible students through the Disabled Students’ Allowance Service

To qualify, a student must suffer from:

  • a recognised disability or long-term health condition
  • a mental health condition
  • a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia

Additionally, they must:

  • be an undergraduate or postgraduate student (including at the Open University or via distance learning)
  • have a condition that affects their ability to study
  • qualify for student finance through Student Finance England
  • be studying on a course that lasts at least one year

if they fit the above criteria, the student will be provided with an award letter by a DSA assessment centre, and a list of centres is available at www.dsa-qag.org.uk,. If any student independently seeks the advice from a colorimeter practitioner as to their eligibility for funding, they should be referred, in the first instance, to their DSA local office or to www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance .

Colorimetry evaluation, fees and payment.

The DSA advises that the awards can only be used to make a reasonable contribution towards the cost of:

  • Evaluation of the appropriate coloured overlays/lens
  • Provision of coloured overlays
  • Tinting of prescription lenses
  • The full cost of non-prescription lens and tinting
  • A contribution towards the cost of frames

The amounts currently awarded against each part of the assessment are set out in the box below:



Coloured Overlays


Lens Tinting (inc cost of non-prescription lens)


Contribution towards frames


Total maximum contribution


It is advised that Colorimetry providers clearly define the diagnostic process and evaluation/treatment process to students at the outset and clearly indicate the separate stages to the DSA Office for invoicing purposes.

Any additional or excess costs over and above those identified above, must be paid for by the student from an alternative source.

It is important to note the following:

The award letter from the DSA for the provision of funds for colorimetry and Precision Tinted Lenses will be sent to the student to be presented to the practitioner confirming that funding is available and that fees will be covered under this scheme.

It is important therefore that the practitioner has sight of the official DSA award letter before carrying out any tests or prescribing and ordering precision tinted lenses.

Please also note that the DSA will not pay for any educational assessment.

The DSA will not provide funds for a basic eye examination as these should be carried out under either NHS provision or be privately funded by the student.

The student may already have been provided with an overlay from a previous educational assessment.

Please note that educational assessments will not be covered under the DSA award in any invoice from a vision practitioner.

For more information please see attached information leaflet:


The main offices dealing with awards are:

  • Student Finance England/Wales/NI (for HE students studying in the respective nations)
  • Student Awards Agency Scotland (for students resident in Scotland – Including OU students)
  • The Open University DSA Office (for all OU students studying in England, Wales and NI)
  • NHS- for students training with the NHS (technically these are ‘Bursaries’ rather than DSAs but the support awarded follows a very similar pattern)