Updated on 

April 21, 2022

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How to Use Your HSA/FSA for Glasses and Contacts

Prescription eyewear is covered by both HSA and FSA.

If you don’t have vision insurance, these types of accounts help save you money on health care.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The basics of HSA and FSA
  • The differences between the two
  • What is and isn’t covered by HSA and FSA
  • How to use your HSA and FSA for prescription eyewear
  • The best places to buy glasses and contacts with your HSA or FSA

What Are HSA and FSA?

HSA and FSA are untaxed accounts that allow you to pay for medical expenses. There are some key differences between the two that we’ll discuss below.

FSA

FSA stands for Flexible Spending Account. 

To qualify for an FSA, you must have job-based health insurance. You can only open an FSA if your employer offers this option.

If an FSA is available to you, you’re able to add funds to the account that don’t get taxed. You’ll use these funds to pay for qualified medical expenses. Employers can also add contributions to your FSA, but it isn't required.

You’re allowed to contribute up to $2,750 per employer to your FSA. Your spouse can also contribute up to $2,750 to their own FSA.

FSA funds must be used within the year. Your employer may help with one of these two options:

  1. Offer a grace period to spend your money
  2. Allow you to carry over up to $550 to the following year

If these options aren’t available to you, any leftover funds will be forfeited.

HSA

HSA stands for Health Savings Account. This is an untaxed account that you manage and can use to pay for eligible medical expenses.

To qualify for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). These are insurance plans that have a lower monthly premium but a higher deductible.

A deductible is the amount you must pay before your insurance plan starts paying.

You can’t open an HSA if you qualify for Medicare.

In 2021, the definition of an HDHP is any plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family. 

An HDHP’s total annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, etc.) can’t be more than $7,000 for an individual or $14,000 for a family. Marketplace plans are included in this definition.

If you enroll in an HSA-eligible HDHP, you need to open an HSA separately. You manage your own HSA account.

Once you open an HSA, you can contribute up to $3,600 for an individual or $7,200 for family coverage in 2021

You’ll deduct the amount deposited into your HSA from the income you pay federal income tax on. Remember that your employer can contribute to your HSA, but they’re not required to.

You can only use your HSA funds to pay for eligible medical expenses. These rollover from year to year. You can build tax-free savings to pay for medical care later. Some HSAs earn interest, which isn’t taxed.

Comparison Table for HSA and FSA

Health Savings Account (HSA) Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
Requirements You must have a high-deductible health plan and can’t be eligible for Medicare Must be offered by your employer
Managed by You Your employer
Annual contribution limit (2021) $3,600 for an individual or $7,200 for a household $2,750 per employer
Contribution schedule You can change your contribution amount at  any time Contribution amount can only be changed during open enrollments or after a change of circumstances
Withdrawal penalty (for non-medical expenses) 20% before age 65; no penalty after you turn 65 Employers decide if you can withdraw funds

What Is Eligible for HSA and FSA?

You can use your HSA or FSA to pay for vision care, including:

In addition to vision care, common medical expenses covered by HSA and FSA include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Deductibles
  • Copayments
  • Coinsurance
  • Physical examinations
  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychologists
  • Dental work
  • Special education
  • Birth control
  • Hospital services
  • Addiction treatment
  • Ambulance service
  • Chiropractor
  • HMOs
  • Lab fees
  • Certain legal fees
  • Long-term care
  • Nursing homes and services
  • Surgeries
  • Wheelchairs
  • X-rays

This is not a comprehensive list of eligible expenses. For a complete summary of eligible expenses, look at IRS Publication 502.

What Isn’t Covered by HSA and FSA?

You HSA or FSA will not cover:

  • Non-prescription glasses (aside from over-the-counter reading glasses)
  • Non-prescription sunglasses
  • Non-prescription contact lenses

Other common medical expenses that are not covered by HSAs or FSAs include:

  • Insurance premiums
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Federally controlled substances
  • Child care
  • Funeral expenses
  • Future medical care
  • Gym memberships
  • Household
  • Medicine from other countries
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Teeth whitening

For a complete summary of ineligible expenses, look at IRS Publication 502.

Where Can I Get Glasses and Contacts with My HSA/FSA?

You can use your HSA and FSA funds to pay for glasses or contacts at:

If you have never purchased prescription glasses or contacts before, you should see an eye doctor. They will perform a complete eye exam and if applicable, contact lens fitting.

Afterward, they will provide you with one prescription for your glasses and another for your contacts. Glasses and contact prescriptions are different.

You can then use your prescription to purchase glasses and contacts from your eye doctor or an online retailer.

If you already have a valid prescription, we suggest purchasing glasses and contact lenses online. They are usually cheaper than purchasing eyewear from a doctor’s office. 

You don’t need to buy contacts/glasses from wherever you got the prescription.

Best Places to Buy Glasses with My HSA/FSA

Our number one choice for glasses is Warby Parker. They are an independent retailer that sells stylish glasses and sunglasses. They also sell contacts. 

Warby Parker frames are stylish, durable, and comfortable. Their customer service is impeccable. They also let you try on 5 pairs of glasses at home, for free with their home try-on program.

You can use your HSA or FSA funds at Warby Parker.

Read our full review of Warby Parker.

Another great online retailer is Liingo Eyewear. They sell prescription eyewear at a slightly lower price point than Warby Parker.

Their frames are stylish and comfortable. They offer an identical home try-on program.

Read our full review of Liingo Eyewear.

Or read our article comparing Warby Parker vs Liingo Eyewear.

Best Place to Buy Contacts with My HSA/FSA

1-800 Contacts is our top choice for online contact lens retailers. They top the list because of their:

  • Unmatched selection
  • 5-star customer service
  • Online prescription renewal test

Read our full review of 1-800 Contacts.

4 Cited Research Articles
  1. Publication 502 .” Medical and Dental Expenses | IRS, Internal Revenue Service, 2020. 
  2. HSA, HRA, Healthcare FSA and Dependent Care Eligibility List.” Eligible Medical Expenses, HSA Bank, 2020. 
  3. High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) & Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).HealthCare.gov, 2020. 
  4. Health Care Options, Using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).HealthCare.gov, 2020.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Michael is the content strategist and a lead content writer for Vision Center. With eight years of experience in the world of content strategy and creation, Michael specializes in medical copywriting and advanced research methodologies.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/michael/
Author: Michael Bayba  | UPDATED April 21, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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