How Much Does an Eye Exam Cost?

It is important to regularly have eye exams to check for problems pertaining to the eyes and vision, such as those which require the use of glasses or contact lenses. It is also important for checking for degenerative diseases which may lead to blindness, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Unfortunately, not everyone has vision insurance which covers eye exams, so it is left up to the individual to pay this out-of-pocket expense. Some people may not have to worry about the cost; however, many do.

A comprehensive eye exam can cost as low as fifty dollars, but on average, it is around a hundred. However, it can run upwards of two hundred and fifty dollars as well. Of course, it depends on what all is included in the exam as well. If one does have vision insurance, the co-pays may differ, while some may not have to pay anything at all.

There are several different venues available for eye exams, some costing more than others. Examples of these include optical shops or retailers, such as Valuvision, which is “one-stop shopping”, group eye care practices, where you can see either an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or both, an eye department of a medical group, such as a sliding fee scale clinic, and independent eye doctors’ offices. In addition, large retailers also have optical departments, such as Target and Walmart, where you can get both an eye exam and glasses or contacts.

Just to give you an idea, eye exams in optical shops, like Visionworks, and retailers, such as Costco, offer the lowest fees for both eye exams and eyewear. Going to group eye care practices and independent eye doctors’ offices are both going to be at the higher end of the eye exam cost spectrum. In addition, some places charge more for eye exams involving contact lenses. However, a routine exam for checking general eye health and update an eyeglass prescription should be fairly low on the eye exam cost spectrum.

What Is Included in an Eye Exam?

Eye exams may include a number of different tests, which vary depending on which doctor or office you choose. At the minimum, you will need a comprehensive eye exam which should include the following:

  • Personal and family health history review, including any eye problems
  • Distance and near vision test evaluation using an eye chart
  • Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia presence evaluation
  • Testing of near vision for determining whether you have presbyopia and/or need bifocals or progressive lenses
  • Testing to check how well your eyes work together “as a team”
  • Testing of eye pressure and optic nerve examination for ruling out glaucoma
  • Interior examination of the eyes for ruling out other eye issues like macular degeneration and cataracts
  • In addition, you can also talk to your doctor about the benefits of LASIK surgery

When Do You Need an Eye Exam?

Although recommendations for eye exams vary, by the age of six months, children should have been checked out to make sure there aren’t any issues which need to be addressed. After that initial eye exam, when children reach three years old, they should have another exam and then again at age six. After age six, children should have eye exams every two years, or more if the eye doctor suggests it.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you need an eye exam every two years, unless there is a problem. If you don’t wear glasses, are between twenty and forty, and are relatively healthy, you may only need to have an eye exam every five years. During this time, however, if you experience any changes in your vision, you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Additionally, if you have any health problems which may affect your eyesight, such as diabetes, you may need to have more frequent eye exams.

After forty, and up to age sixty-four, an eye exam is needed every two to four years, depending on risk factors and overall health. Again, if you have changes in vision, see an eye doctor as soon as possible. After age sixty-five, the risks of eye diseases increase, and so should the eye exams; at this time you should have an eye exam once a year.

If you can’t afford a lot, there are definitely low-cost choices for you to choose from. If you have insurance, you can choose an independent doctor or a group practice. It really depends on where you live, what is offered, and what your needs are, but there are several choices for eye exams and eyewear. Places such as Valuvision and Visionworks generally have specials where you can purchase two pairs of eyeglasses plus an eye exam for a special introductory price. However, if you have specific eye problems, perhaps an independent eye doctor would be better for you. Whichever service you choose, be sure to keep up with when eye exams are needed, and be sure to report any sudden vision changes to your eye doctor immediately. After all, we all only have one set of eyes; take care of them!


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