Ballpark Estimate: $50 to $150
Do you see the importance of taking good care of your eyes? The experts stress the need to make your eye health a priority, getting vision exams and staying on top of any changes right away. This will help you continue seeing clearly, both now and as you age.
The fact is that eye health can change quickly, so respected professional organizations such as the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology stress that undergoing regular thorough eye exams can be important to catch any problems that arise at the earliest stage
You probably get annual physicals to help protect your health, but although getting regular thorough eye examinations are also essential, no universal standard exists regarding how frequent your vision examinations should take place. But the general belief is that you should see your doctor every one to three years.
Your eye doctor will make his recommendations for you based on his beliefs and your specific circumstances. For instance, if you have a family history of eye disease, have diabetes or another chronic disease that can affect your vision, or wear glasses, you could be at higher risk to experience problems. In addition, children who wear glasses should get more frequent eye checks, as should seniors.
When you’re ready to get your vision checked, you’ll need to find a qualified specialist. There are several different types to consider, including ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Which one is the best fit for you will depend on your specific vision needs. Here is an overview of each type and what they can do for you.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or osteopathic doctor (DO), who has completed medical school and has attended post-graduate training in eye surgery. He can examine your eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts, as well as diagnose and treat eye diseases and problems and also perform eye surgery.
An optometrist is an eye doctor who has done post-graduate training at an optometry school to earn a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. He can examine your eyes, prescribe glasses and contacts and prescribe medicines as needed.
An optician is a trained professional who can fit patients for glasses and in some cases, also contact lenses. He may get his experience either on the job or attend a technical school to get up to speed for this position.
What to Look For
Once you determine the level of expertise you desire in an eye doctor, you can ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations, check your yellow pages or do a search online. There are also many web-based resources that can help you locate some qualified options in your area. For instance, there’s the Eye Doctor Directory, Vision Directory, All About Vision Directory, Find an Eye Doctor Directory and many others you can find when you conduct a search online.
Other Factors to Consider
When you’re deciding whether to try a new eye doctor, you may want to ask some questions up front so you will know exactly what to expect from your visit. For instance, you’ll want to know what level of training and experience he brings to the job. If he’s not able to prescribe medications or perform surgery, you’ll also want to know if he has an arrangement with someone who is qualified for these responsibilities to whom he can send you to if needed.
You can find eye doctor’s working in a number of vision centers and commercial eye care places. Some of them are also located through medical practices, work as part of a group eye care practice or run their own independent eye doctor’s office. In addition, some work through an optical retailer or shop. You can also find low-priced eye exams available at large retailers like Walmart, JCPenney, and Sears Optical Centers, among many others. Finally, there are some well-known optical chains in many cities and suburbs across the nation, such as LensCrafters and Pearle Vision. The advantage of using a chain is that you can usually get an appointment quickly and have a large inventory of glasses frames and styles in stock to select from.
What to Expect
What you can expect to get from an eye examination should be relatively consistent, regardless of where you go. This should include some basic steps, including:
- A review of your personal and family health history
- Vision screening and assessment to determine any vision issues that exist. This should look at nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia.
- Your eyes should also be evaluated to make sure they work together correctly.
- Your eye pressure should also be measured and your optic nerve should be checked for signs of glaucoma.
- The eye doctor should also examine the inside of your eye to rule out cataracts and macular degeneration
- If you plan to be fitted for contact lenses, this will usually be done at the same time but the cost for this is usually extra.
When you go to your eye exam, if you wear eyeglasses and contact lenses, you should bring them with you so that the doctor can be sure they are still the right prescription for your vision. You should also come prepared with a list of all medications, vitamins, supplements and other remedies that you take or took in the past. In addition, it can be helpful to write down a list of questions and concerns that you’d like to share with the eye doctor. Finally, bring your health insurance card and any proof of vision insurance, if applicable, as well as information about your vision coverage and co-pay requirements.
What It Costs
What you will pay for an eye exam depends on where you go and who performs it. This is because the more training and expertise the person bring to the job, the higher rate he may charge within reason.
The cost usually starts at $50 for a basic eye exam alone if you go through some of the popular optical centers available through mass retailers or large optical chains. It can go as high as $150 or even higher if you go to a private eye doctor’s office or medical practice. This cost should include a prescription for glasses if needed.
However, if you also want to be fitted for contact lenses, this will usually be an additional charge that can range anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the type of contacts you select. (Some of the newer types can be more time intensive to fit and therefore more costly.) The contact lens fitting fee can be charged separately or may be included in the cost of the lenses themselves. Therefore, always ask your doctor up front to detail the costs and tell you what’s included.
So the cost for a very basic eye exam usually runs from about $50 to $150.
Some insurance plans will pay for some or your entire eye exam costs, depending on your level of coverage. Often you will be responsible for a co-payment, which can range from $10 to about $35, and the insurance will cover the balance beyond that. Just be aware that the eye doctor you select may need to be part of your insurance company’s network or on their approved provider list, so it’s worth checking in advance to be sure your doctor meets the criteria.
Medicare and some other insurance providers will also cover some of the cost of an eye doctor visit, but only if it is medically necessary and not for a routine exam. Therefore, the reason you go and exactly what’s done can make a big difference in who will be responsible for covering the tabs. Some insurance providers also limit the frequency with which you can get eye exams, so it can help to familiarize yourself with the terms of your plan.