It’s no secret that Medicare won’t cover your optical – despite eye exams and eyewear being essential for seniors. So, where exactly can you look to get free prescription eyeglasses and eye tests? Fortunately, there are a number of resources that are free or inexpensive. Here are 4 places you can save money on prescription eyewear.
1. Medicare/Insurance CoverageAs you’re already aware, Medicare (Part A and B) and Medigap supplemental policies don’t cover routine eye exams or eyeglasses, unless you’ve purchased a Medicare Advantage plan that does. If you want your vision and dental covered, it might be worth switching to a Medicare Advantage plan. You can find these plans at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan or by calling 800-633-4227. You can switch from Medicare to Medicare Advantage every year during the enrollment period which is between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. If you don’t want to change your Medicare plan, you can consider an inexpensive vision insurance policy instead – check out eHealthInsurance.com. The pricing of policies changes depends where you live, you but you can expect to pay between $6 - $9 per month. However, just make sure the savings potential is worth the cost of premiums and copays.
Discount StoresAt Costco, you can get good eyewear are low prices – costing an average of $150. However, to shop at Costco you must pay a $55 annual fee. Other good discounts retailers include For Eyes Optical, BJ’s Optical, Sam’s Club, and Walmart. It’s also a good idea to find out if you are eligible for any discounts. Lots of retailers provide discounts to membership groups like AARP and AAA. For instance, AARP members can get a 30% discount on prescription eyewear and eye exams at LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical, JCPenney Optical and thousands of other private optometrist offices.
Look OnlineBy choosing to shop online you can save a lot of money. Some stores worth checking out include 39DollarGlasses.com, ZenniOptical.com, Googles4u.com, and EyeBuyDirect.com. You can get your hands on prescription eyeglasses for as little as $7 plus shipping. You can also upload a photo of your face to see what you’d look like in different styles. If you want some fancier style, check out WarbyParker.com, where you can get stylish single-vision glasses for just $95. To buy online, you’ll need an eyeglass prescription from your eye doctor, as well as your pupillary distance number - which is the distance, measured in millimeters, between the centers of your pupils in each eye.
Low-Income AssistanceIf your income is low, you might be able to get discounted eyewear from the following:
- New Eyes: This non-profit offers free eyeglasses through a voucher program to those in financial need. You can find their website, here.
- American Optometric Association: The AOA is partners with several organizations that can help low-income individuals get access to eye exams and glasses. Click here to find an AOA program that suits your needs.
- Lions Club: You can free glasses at their eyeglass bank, as well as free eye exams and glaucoma screenings. To find your local Lions Club, click here.
Organizations That Provide Free/Cheap Eye ExamsWhile the following organization can’t provide free eyeglasses, you can access free eye exams which is very important to your health as you age:
- Prevent Blindness America: According to this organization, 50% of blindness is preventable with regularly scheduled eye exams. Visit their website to find out more.
- EyeCare America: At ECA, you can get a medical eye exam at no cost to you if you qualify. To find out more about their eye programs, click here.
- Vision USA: You can also get free eye exams at Vision USA if you meet the requirements. Head over to their website to find out if you qualify.