How Can I Save Money on Eye Care? Tips for Seeing More Savings

In this article: Tips for saving on the high cost of eye care from exams to eyewear to eye drops.

by Andrea Norris-McKnight

Save Money on Eye Care photo

Perhaps you’ve worn glasses most of your life. Or maybe you avoided most eye care costs until your aging eyes required corrective lenses for you to read and drive. Most of us will eventually start incurring eye care costs, which aren’t necessarily cheap. So, how can you save money on eye care?

The following eye care cost-cutting tips can help you see the savings opportunities.

Why Is Eye Care So Expensive? A Cost Overview

At a minimum, you can expect to pay for an annual eye exam. According to Humana, the average eye exam costs anywhere from $75 to $250.

Once you begin wearing glasses or contacts (or both), Expect to pay $50 to $1,000 or more for glasses (source: Glasses.com). The annual average cost of contact lenses costs is $200 to $1,000 (source WarbyParker.com).

If you wear contacts, you’ll need to keep contact lens solution on hand. Dry eyes or some other condition may require daily eye drops. Depending on the brand, these products can cost as much as $1 per ounce.

It’s easy to see how quickly these costs can add up, especially if several family members need corrective eyewear.

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How Can I Save Money on Eye Care?

Here are some tips to help you reduce eye care expenses without compromising the quality of care:

Maintain Good Eye Health

Prevention is better than cure.

Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, take breaks from screens and avoid smoking to maintain. These are all habits that contribute to good eye health.

Get Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams can help detect eye problems early and prevent the need for more expensive treatments down the line.

You don’t need vision insurance to save on an eye exam. If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership and a nearby location provides eye exams, you can get an eye exam for $50 to $100. Some Walmart and Target offers similarly priced eye exams at some locations.

EyeCare America is a program of the American Academy of Ophthalmology that provides discounted and free eye exams to seniors over 65. VSP Eyes of Hope enables low-income families to receive free eye care and eyewear.

If you live near an Ophthalmology or Optometry college, see if the school offers cheap eye exams. A student will perform the exam under the guidance of an instructor. They will get hands-on experience, and you’ll get a great deal.

Get Your Money’s Worth From Vision Insurance

If you’re fortunate enough to have vision insurance, make sure you know what it covers so you do not miss out on any benefits for eye exams, glasses or contact lenses.

Always Compare Prices

Depending on your eye care needs, you may require glasses or contact lenses, eye drops or contact lens solution. Chances are, you can purchase most, if not all, of these items from your optometrist, but they won’t typically be at the best price. Since you may be buying these items regularly (and some of them frequently), take the time to do your homework and find the best bargains each time you buy.

Most grocery or drug stores carry any brand of drops your doctor recommends and often have coupons to help you save.

Sure, your eye doctor wants you to purchase your glasses or contacts through them, and they may be the best option if you have insurance that covers all or a portion of the purchase. However, if you aren’t covered for glasses or contacts, simply get your prescription from your doctor and shop around, especially online.

Use FSA or HSA Dollars

If you have a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account, you can use pre-tax dollars to pay for eye care expenses, including eye exams, prescription glasses and contact lenses.

Follow Care Guidelines for Glasses and Contact Lenses

Proper care and maintenance of your glasses and contact lenses can extend their life, saving you money in the long run. Follow your eye care provider’s guidelines for cleaning and storing your eyewear.

Consider Store Brand Contact Lens Solution

If your eye doctor recommends a specific brand of contact lens solution, see if you can find a store brand with the same ingredients. Store-brand lens cleaning solutions are typically less expensive than name-brand options but still provide the same level of cleanliness and safety.

How Will You Save Money on Eye Care?

Never compromise on your eye health to save money. Prioritize regular check-ups and proper care to maintain good vision and overall well-being. And use these tips to find as many savings as you can.

Reviewed January 2024

About the Author

Andrea Norris-McKnight took over as the editor of The Dollar Stretcher and After 50 Finances after working under the site founder and previous editor for almost 15 years. She has also written for Money.com, GOBankingRates.com, HavenLife.com and The Sacramento Bee.

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