Visiting the eye doctor is an important component in maintaining your overall health. Unfortunately, many people avoid this activity because of the high financial costs.
An eye exam can cost anywhere from $50 to $250 depending on where you go, and the average cost of frames for glasses can cost $127 alone – and that doesn’t include the cost of the prescription lenses.ii
The good news is that going to the eye doctor doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, by following the below strategies, you could end up paying nothing at all at your next exam! Read on to find out how you can start saving money at the eye doctor today.
1. Go to the Right Place
First things first: you need to figure out exactly where you need to go. Start by asking yourself why you’re going to the eye doctor to begin with. Do you have a physical problem with your eye? Do you want to increase your prescription? Do you want to buy a new pair of glasses? The answers to these questions will greatly impact where you go to get your eyes checked.
There are important differences between an ophthalmologist, an optometrist, and an optician.
- Do you have a medical problem with your eye? See an ophthalmologist.
- Do you need your vision checked? See an optometrist.
- Do you only need new glasses or contacts? See an optician.
You don’t want to spend extra money at the ophthalmologist when you really just need to get your vision checked. Don’t pay for unnecessary tests that do not apply to you. However, places like LensCrafters and other retail stores may not include pupil dilatation and other standard testing without an additional fee. Figuring out where you want to go and what services you need to receive is a vital part of saving money at the eye doctor.
2. Purchase Vision Insurance
No matter what services you require, vision insurance will help you save money throughout your experience. Vision insurance can be added to your existing healthcare plan , providing coverage for any conditions related to your ocular health.
These plans are designed to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for preventive care, routine services, and certain procedures. They can even save you money on glasses. Vision insurance is beneficial to everyone but can be especially important for those who wear glasses or contacts, want access to a large network of providers, and currently have a high deductible from an employer insurance plan.
3. Shop Around for Glasses
When it comes to purchasing glasses, make an effort to shop around and do your research. It may be convenient to buy eyeglasses on display in your optometrist’s waiting room; however, you may find a better selection of frames at a lower price at another store.
Many eye doctors tend to push their stock and want you to purchase directly from them. They often work closely with the brands they sell and get a portion of the sale. And while that may be great for them, it’s not always the most cost-effective option for you.
Savings Tip: Ask your optometrist for a copy of your eyeglass or contacts prescription. That way, you’ll have it ready to give to another provider when you find a pair of frames or contacts you like.
Once you receive your prescription from the eye doctor, take some time to search for the best deal possible. Many retail stores sell reasonably priced frames. Some places will even put new lenses into your existing frames for a fraction of the cost!
Shopping online is also an option. Over the last few years, direct-to-consumer eyeglass companies have become a popular alternative to in-store shopping. These companies allow you to try on several frames at home before purchasing or sending them back at no cost to you. Plus, the costs of the glasses with prescription lenses may be less than what you’d pay at an optometrist’s office.
If you have insurance, don’t forget to check out your benefits. Your insurance provider may offer discounts on frames, lenses, contacts and exams from select retailers.
4. Buy Contacts Online Instead of Through Your Doctor
Like glasses, contact lenses may also be cheaper when purchased away from your eye doctor’s office. There are many direct-to-consumer contacts websites that take your prescription and send contacts directly to your home.
Savings Tip: If your prescription hasn’t changed in a year, make sure you order a new supply of contacts before your prescription runs out. This will save you money on an unnecessary eye doctor visit.
5. Search for Discounts
If you’re looking for an eye exam, there are many discounts available. AARP and AAA have discounts for members, and sites like Groupon and Living Social offer deals periodically. Different businesses also offer various specials throughout the year. As always, do your research and try to find the best possible deal before you commit.
Interested in Getting Vision Insurance?
While there are many strategies to save money at the eye doctor, the simplest way is to get vision insurance. As stated above, vision insurance can help reduce your out-of-pocket costs for exams, frames, lenses, contacts and other procedures. If you’re eligible for Medicare, then you have two options to get coverage:
Enroll in a stand-alone vision insurance plan to supplement your Medicare Part A and Part B.
Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes vision insurance coverage.
If you’re interested in getting vision insurance and qualify for Medicare, then Ensurem is here to help. Ensurem partners with several well-known insurance providers to offer you top-rated1 plans. Call Ensurem to speak with a licensed insurance agent at the number above.
Don’t want to speak to an agent on the phone? That’s OK, Emma is here. Emma is your virtual Medicare assistant2 and can help you select a Medicare Advantage plan with vision coverage 100 percent online from the comfort of home. Get a clear picture of your insurance options with Ensurem.
1 Ensurem only offers products from insurance carriers with an A.M. Best Rating of B++ or higher and/or, where applicable, a CMS Star Rating of 4/5 or higher.
2Emma is a virtual assistant and not a live person.
i “How Much is an Eye Exam Without Insurance?” Micheal Bayba, Dr. Melody Huang, OD, Vision Center, Oct. 26, 2021, https://www.visioncenter.org/blog/eye-exam-without-insurance/
ii “How to Get Affordable Eye Exams and Eyeglasses Without Insurance,” S. Behring, Jenna Stoddard, OD, Healthline, May 12, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/can-you-get-affordable-eye-exams-and-eyeglasses-without-insurance