Eye care always seems to be the budget-breaker. Since it’s not typically part of your health insurance, it’s easy to overlook. But there are plenty of ways to save money on eye care. We’ve compiled some tips to help you get the best bang for your buck. Here’s how to save on eye exams, glasses and contacts without compromising your eye health.
Save on Eye Exams
Get Checked Less Often
The American Optometric Association recommends an eye exam every two years if you aren’t having any problems and you’re aged 18-60. After 61, it should be annually or as recommended by your eye doctor. If you’re on the younger side, you may be able to get away with three years if you’re not having any problems.
Confirm the cost before the exam. Ask the eye doctor to let you know if any tests are additional and if they’re necessary. Obviously, you want the eye doctor to conduct tests if warranted. But it pays to be clear that you’re trying to keep the cost down.
Take Advantage of Package Deals
Check out your local Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club. These stores will often have special discounts on your eye exam. If you’re not a member, big box stores like America’s Best and Wal-Mart offer combo deals where you can get an exam and a pair of glasses for less than $100.
Check Your Insurance Plan
Plans vary widely, so read the fine print. See if an annual eye exam is covered or discounted. If you don’t have vision insurance, you could use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) to cover the cost and get reimbursed. This also applies to glasses or contacts.
Find Free Exams
If the cost of an exam is too much, there are several programs for adults. Just make sure the program offers a comprehensive eye exam, not simply a vision screening. A vision screening is helpful, but it doesn’t evaluate the total health of your eyes. VISION USA, EyeCare America and Lions Club International offer programs to help with eye care costs.
Save on Glasses
Keep Your Frames
Although it’s tempting to snap up those cute glasses while you’re browsing after your exam, do you really need them? This is a quick and easy way to save money.
If you’re like most people, you like one-stop shopping. But convenience has a cost. According to a Consumer Reports survey, nearly 40 percent of respondents bought their glasses from independent eyecare providers and paid a median of around $400, two to three times what you might pay online or at a discount store. Explore beyond the eye doctor’s office. Check out the chain eye care stores, big retailers with eye care centers, and online options to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Split Your Business
If you want to keep your preferred independent eye doctor, you could take your prescription and buy frames online. Then, head to a big retailer like Walmart or Costco to buy the lenses. Walmart charges $10 and Costco $18 to put the lenses into frames. Plus, they’ll adjust the frames while you’re there.
Online retailers have drastically cut down the cost of glasses. However, it's not for everyone. You can't try them on first and you don't have a professional to fit them. Make sure they have a good return policy. Some sites like Warby Parker will send you five frames to try for five days with free shipping both ways. See what's out there before ruling it out.
Avoid Unnecessary Add-ons
When the optician begins telling you about all the fancy technologies for your frames and lenses, make sure you understand their value and if it really matters for your lifestyle. Things like anti-reflective coating, polarization, and UV protection can be important, but are they worth the cost for you personally?
Take Care of Your Specs
Everyone is guilty of being a little careless with their glasses, but this is a simple way to save money. Keep them in their case, don’t use your shirt to clean them, and put them down in a safe place (where your child won’t step on them).
Save on Contact Lenses
Buy in Bulk Online
Prescriptions for contact lenses are usually good for one year. To save money, buy lenses in bulk twice in a year – right after your eye exam and again before your prescription expires. However, be sure to get them from your eye doctor if this is your first time wearing contacts. Check out sites like 1800Contacts, ContactsDirect, and Zenni Optical.
Follow Care Instructions
Once you’ve found a low-cost retailer for contacts, do everything you can to extend their wear. Follow all instructions from your eye doctor and the contact lens manufacturer to protect your lenses and the health of your eyes.
Hopefully this blog has given you some options you hadn’t considered. Taking care of your eyes is too important, so make room in your budget with these ideas.