Cheap Eye Exams and Glasses

4 sources cited
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Eye Exam Cost With & Without Insurance

Regular eye exams are important to protect your eye health. Some issues don’t present any obvious symptoms. Many require a careful analysis from a medical professional to recognize.

Annual exams help diagnose and treat eye health issues. They also provide you with a pair of glasses or contact lenses to correct your vision.

Eye exams diagnose and correct problems with vision, such as:

  • Impaired vision
  • Eye muscle problems
  • Refractive errors
  • Visual field errors
  • Color vision problems
  • Retinal issues
  • Problems with pupil dilation
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

Sometimes, insurance policies 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 insurance plan that offers coverage.

But many people do not have insurance coverage, or their plan does not cover eye exam costs. It’s still possible to undergo an exam without spending a lot of money.

The average cost of an eye exam is about $200. But you can find reputable vision health establishments that do it for much less.

Summary

The cost of an eye exam depends on whether your insurance policy will cover them or not. Sometimes, it would require a small co-pay, and for others, they would need to purchase supplemental vision insurance plan. The average cost of an eye exam is $200.

How to Find Cheap Eye Exams 

Many places offer low-cost and free eye exams.

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:

Zocdoc

Zocdoc helps you find nearby doctors in your network.

You can read reviews of eye doctors by real patients and book doctor appointments with a couple of clicks. You can even book eye exams via video conferences for remote teleoptometry sessions.

Schedule an eye exam with Zocdoc

1800 Contacts

This is an online eye exam and cheap contact lens exam. It is only available to people who already have a prescription for contact lenses (not for first time customers).

The exam is $20 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.

This eye exam ensures your prescription is up-to-date. The exam takes about 15 minutes, and you get your results within hours.

Schedule an eye exam with 1800 Contacts 

1800 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 Eyecare club members. The membership fee is $99. 

Schedule an eye exam with America's Best

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.

Schedule an eye exam with Target 

Costco

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

Visit Costco Optical 

Walmart

The fee for a standard eye exam at Walmart Vision Center is $60. Walmart accepts some forms of insurance, which might reduce the cost of your exam, glasses, and contacts. 

Schedule an eye exam with Walmart 

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 have other issues. You’ll also pay more if you are interested in purchasing progressive lenses or bifocals. 

Schedule an eye exam with Sam's Club 

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.

Learn More about EyeCare America

Summary

You can find cheap eye exams from Zocdoc, 1800 Contacts, America's Best, Target, Costco, Walmart, Sam's Club, and EyeCare America.

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. If you have serious vision health concerns, seek a comprehensive 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, if you believe these issues are a concern for you, it’s best to set up routine checkups at a full-service eye health center.

Cheap eye exams are ideal for young people, do not suspect any eye health issues, and want to measure their visual acuity.

Free Eyeglasses for Low Income 

Based on your income, you might qualify for a free eye exam or free prescription eyeglasses. Some of the programs offering free and cheap eye exams and glasses for people without 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. You do not need insurance coverage to have your baby’s vision evaluated by InfantSEE.

Learn More about InfantSEE

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state-funded health program that offers healthcare coverage to low-income people.

Qualifications for Medicaid vary from state to state. Check with a representative 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. It includes vision care issues. The program pays for many services for eligible children, including vision dental care, and routine eye exams.

Learn More about Medicaid Vision

Sight for Students

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

Learn More about Sight for Students

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 globally. The program was founded in 1932 and has provided free eyeglasses for low-income people worldwide.

Learn More about New Eyes

Summary

Cheap eye exams normally cost $100 or less. Free eye exams, and even free eyeglasses, are also available for low-income earners without insurance. These include programs like InfantSEE, Medicaid, Sight for Students, and New Eyes.

4 Cited Research Articles
  1. Vision and Hearing Screening Services for Children and Adolescents. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/early-and-periodic-screening-diagnostic-and-treatment/vision-and-hearing-screening-services-children-and-adolescents/index.html
  2. Lundeen, Elizabeth A et al. “Disparities in Receipt of Eye Exams Among Medicare Part B Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries with Diabetes - United States, 2017.” MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report vol. 68,45 1020-1023. 15 Nov. 2019, doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6845a3
  3. Kimel, Linda S. “Lack of Follow-up Exams After Failed School Vision Screenings: An Investigation of Contributing Factors.” The Journal of School Nursing, vol. 22, no. 3, June 2006, pp. 156–162, doi:10.1177/10598405060220030601.
  4. Picone, G., Brown, D., Sloan, F. et al. Do Routine Eye Exams Improve Vision?. International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics 4, 43–63 . https://doi.org/10.1023/B:IHFE.0000019262.27436.3d
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