Evidence Based

Cheap Eye Exams and Glasses

Eye Exam Cost With & Without Insurance

Regular eye exams are important to protect your eye health. Some issues don’t present any obvious symptoms, and require a careful analysis from a medical professional to recognize. Annual exams help diagnose and treat eye health issues early.

Eye exams diagnose and correct problems with vision. Instead of dealing with eye strain, headaches, and trouble concentrating, an eye exam diagnoses the issue with your vision and provides you with prescription lenses to correct the problem.

eye chart and medicine

Insurance policies sometimes cover eye exams. They are considered preventative health care and require only a small co-pay from the insured. Some people need to purchase a supplemental vision plan that offers coverage. But even if you do not have insurance coverage, or your plan does not cover eye exams, it’s still possible to undergo an exam without spending a lot of money.

An eye exam’s average cost is about $200, but you can find reputable vision health establishments that do it for much less.

How to Find Cheap Eye Exams 

Many places offer low-cost and free eye exams. The cheapest eye exams might only cover basic issues or they offer a more comprehensive eye exam. It’s a good idea to evaluate your options and determine which cheap eye exam is right for you based on your vision health concerns. Many of these establishments are full-service and offer a full range of eyewear.

Some of the most popular eye health exams are available at:

1800 Contacts

This is an online eye exam and cheap contact lens exam offered to people who already have a prescription for contact lenses. The exam is free and taken in the comfort of your own home. Ideally, you’ll have a regular comprehensive eye exam at your ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s office and use this free eye exam to ensure your prescription is up-to-date. The exam takes about 15 minutes and you get your results within hours. 

1 800 Contacts eye exams are available to people aged 18 to 55 who live in an eligible state. States that do not offer online eye exams from 1 800 Contacts include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • West Virginia

America’s Best

Americas Best offers eye exams for $45. This fee might be waived if you purchase two pairs of glasses from the company. Contact lens eye exams are a bit more expensive and cost $79. 

America’s Best also offers free contact lens exams for three years (up to 2 exams per year) for its Eyecare club members. The membership fee is $99. 

Target

Some Target locations offer eye exams for approximately $55 through their Target Optical service. This is a basic exam. You pay more if you need pupil dilation. An eye doctor conducts the exam and offers a prescription for corrective lenses if needed.

Costco

Costco eye exams are available for club members for approximately $80 for a glasses exam. Contact lens exams are approximately $150.

Walmart

The fee for a standard eye exam at Walmart is $60. Walmart accepts some forms of insurance, which might reduce your exam cost or cover the cost of your glasses or contact lenses. 

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club offers basic eye exams starting at $50 for members who need eyeglasses. Dilation and contact lens exams cost more at about $100. You might also pay more if you need contacts for astigmatism or other concerns that extend beyond a basic exam. You’ll also pay more if you are interested in purchasing progressive lenses or bifocals. 

Eyecare America

Eyecare America offers comprehensive exams for $89. Eyecare Club memberships cost $99 and offer up to two free exams per year for three years.

How Much Does a Cheap Eye Exam Cost?

Cheap eye exams vary in cost but are usually available for $100 or less. Cheap tends to equate to basic, so if you have serious vision health concerns, it’s best to seek a comprehensive and likely more expensive exam. Cheap eye exams are not recommended for people diagnosed with:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Serious vision health issues

Eye exams are important for protecting your vision and for early diagnosis of other health concerns. Some basic eye exams can detect problems with heart health, stroke risk, and diabetes-related vision problems. However, you believe these issues are a concern for you, it’s best to establish a working relationship with a full-service eye health center.

How to read eyeglass prescription

Cheap eye exams are ideal for people who are young and do not suspect any eye health issues.

Free Eyeglasses for Low Income 

You might qualify for a free eye exam or free eyeglasses based on your income. Some of the programs offering free and cheap eye exams and glasses no insurance include:

InfantSEE

This is a national public health program. It’s funded by charitable donations to the American Optometric Association (AOA) and staffed by volunteer optometrists. The program provides a single free vision assessment for children under one year of age. You do not need insurance coverage to have your baby’s vision evaluated by InfantSEE.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state-funded health program that offers healthcare coverage to low-income individuals of all ages. Requirements for qualifying for Medicaid vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with programs in your state even if you think you do not qualify. Medicaid eligibility is less strict for people who are blind or have other disabilities.

Medicaid covers many preventative services, screenings, and treatments for health conditions, including eye care issues. The program pays for many services for eligible children, including vision dental care and routine eye exams.

Sight for Students

This is a program offered by Vision Service Plan (VSP). It includes free eye exams and free glasses to low-income children without medical or vision insurance. It’s a national program that has been operating since 1997.

New Eyes

This is a non-profit volunteer optometry program that purchases glasses for low-income children. The program also recycles glasses donated by the public and distributes them to people globally. The program was founded in 1932 and has provided free eyeglasses for low-income people around the world.

Author: Vision Center Staff | UPDATED September 3, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. | REVIEWED ON September 7, 2020
Resources

“New Eyes for the Needy.” New Eyes for the Needy, new-eyes.org/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2020.

“InfantSEE Home.” Infantsee.Org, infantsee.org/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2020.

Vision and Hearing Screening Services for Children and Adolescents | Medicaid.” Www.Medicaid.Gov, www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/early-and-periodic-screening-diagnostic-and-treatment/vision-and-hearing-screening-services-children-and-adolescents/index.html. Accessed 30 Aug. 2020.

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