Here's How to Get Affordable Eye Exams and Glasses Without Insurance (2024)

Here's How to Get Affordable Eye Exams and Glasses Without Insurance (1) Why You Can Trust CNET

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Eye exams, glasses and contacts have traditionally been an expensive proposition for those without vision insurance. However, low-cost eye care is available. Here's what to know.

Luke Daugherty is a freelance writer, editor and former operations manager. His work covers operations, marketing, sustainable business and personal finance, as well as many of his personal passions, including coffee, music and social issues.

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Luke Daugherty

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Maintaining healthy eyes is an essential part of health care, yet many Americans overlook or put off tending to this important aspect of their health and well-being. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 million adults in the US are at a high risk of developing serious vision loss, but only half of them have visited an eye doctor in the last year.

In many cases, that's because vision care is too expensive. Roughly half of adults in the US go without vision insurance, which isn't included in standard health plans. And without insurance, a typical eye exam costs about $184. Add in the cost of glasses or contacts, and it's no surprise that many Americans avoid going to the eye doctor or keeping their prescription up to date.

Getting an eye exam without insurance doesn't have to be overly costly, though. There are several ways to find cheap eye exams or low-cost eye care, and we'll explore them here.

Read more: Best Places to Buy Glasses Online

Where is the cheapest place to get an eye exam?

Some of the best places to look for eye exams or glasses without insurance are discount eye exam centers or online glasses retailers. There are quite a few options, but our favorites are:

  • America's Best: This popular chain offers eye exams for $69, or you can buy two pairs of glasses for $80 and get the eye exam for free.
  • Costco: Not all Costco locations have a Costco Optical, but this can be a good option if your nearest Costco offers it. Exams range between $50 and $100, but you'll need a Costco membership first.
  • EyeBuyDirect: Online glasses retailers have exploded over the past decade, and EyeBuyDirect offers some of the best deals for glasses without insurance. Frames start as low as $6, and basic prescription lenses are very affordable.
  • Eyeglass World: Another online retailer, Eyeglass World, offers deals on glasses as low as two pairs for $89. The company also offers eye exams at more than 100 locations around the US.
  • GlassesUSA: This online retailer offers similar deals to those you'll find at Eyeglass World, with a variety of discounts and sales to make glasses without insurance even more affordable.
  • Jonas Paul: The costs of eye care can add up quickly for families, but Jonas Paul aims to change that. Based on Warby Parker's model of home try-on kits and donating a pair of glasses for every pair you buy, Jonas Paul offers affordable, stylish glasses for children and teenagers, starting at $59.
  • Sam's Club: As with Costco, you'll need a Sam's Club membership to access this benefit. Eye exams range between $50 and $100, on average.
  • Target and Walmart: If you'd rather not get a membership to Costco or Sam's Club, you can still get cheap eye exams while you shop at Target or Walmart. Eye exams at these major retailers also fall in the $50 to $100 range.

If you just need new lenses for an existing frame, you can save money by checking out online options for replacement lenses. For contact lens-wearers, learn how to extend the life of your contacts to save money in the long run.

Read more: Best Places to Buy Contact Lenses Online

Check out national programs for eye care

Here's How to Get Affordable Eye Exams and Glasses Without Insurance (3)

The above retailers may still be too costly for some, but they aren't the only options for eye exams without insurance. Many programs offer free eye care or low-cost options for those who qualify, including:

See an optometrist student

If you're willing to receive care from students studying optometry or ophthalmology, many schools offer cheap eye care and free eye exams for patients. Students conducting the exam are supervised, so you can still be confident you're getting quality care. You may also find opportunities to participate (for free) in college research studies.

Look for participating schools here, and call any schools in your area to inquire about student exam programs and costs.

Medicare or Medicaid may help cover costs

Here's How to Get Affordable Eye Exams and Glasses Without Insurance (4)

Participants in Medicare or Medicaid may also have options when it comes to finding low-cost eye care.

Medicaid, which provides free health care for low-income children and some low-income adults, generally offers some level of vision care. All Medicaid plans include eye exams and glasses for children under age 21, but coverage for adults varies by state. You may be able to get free eye exams, glasses or both. To find out what Medicaid covers in your state, contact your state Medicaid agency. Children who are ineligible for Medicaid may be able to get vision coverage through their state's Children's Health Insurance Program.

Medicare is a program for adults over 65 and some people with disabilities. It generally doesn't offer vision coverage, but it does help with certain eye conditions, including cataracts, dry eye, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

You may be able to get more extensive vision coverage through a Medicare Advantage program. This Medicare-approved coverage is offered through private insurers and often includes vision coverage for eye exams, glasses and contacts.

Bottom line

Eye exams are an essential but often neglected piece of the health care puzzle for many Americans -- and that's largely due to cost. But there are many services designed to remove these cost barriers by making eye exams and glasses more affordable and accessible for everyone.

If you're struggling to pay for vision care, check out the many local and online retailers, as well as several national programs, to see if you can get the care you need for a cost you can manage.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Here's How to Get Affordable Eye Exams and Glasses Without Insurance (2024)


How do you get glasses when you have no money? ›

Some clubs may also provide eyeglasses. New Eyes provides prescription eyeglasses to children and adults who can't afford them. A social worker or someone at a community health center may be able help you apply. Mission Cataract USA offers free cataract surgery to people of all ages who can't afford it.

How much does an eye exam cost without insurance near me? ›

However, combining national averages from FAIR Health and VSP, you can expect to pay: $171-$200 is the average cost of an eye exam without insurance (first visit) $128 for recurring patient visits. $46 for refractive vision tests.

Where is the least expensive place to get eyeglasses? ›

Where to buy cheap glasses
  • Best overall place to find cheapest prescription glasses: GlassesUSA.
  • Best place to find sales on prescription glasses: Zenni Optical.
  • Best place for style selection on a budget: Warby Parker.
  • Best place for lenses, contacts and beyond: LensCrafters.
May 15, 2024

How much is an eye exam without insurance America's Best? ›

How much does an eye exam cost? At America's Best, eye exams are FREE* with our 2 pairs offers! Exams without a 2 pair purchase are only $69. Schedule an eye exam at America's Best today.

How to qualify for free glasses? ›

Free NHS eye tests and optical vouchers
  1. are under 16.
  2. are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education (this includes being taught full-time at a school, college, university or at home)
  3. are 60 or over.
  4. are registered as partially sighted or blind.
  5. have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma.

What if I cant afford a new eye prescription? ›

Visit to find out if you or someone you know qualifies for eye care. More than 90 percent of care provided is at no out-of-pocket cost to EyeCare America patients.

How much should a pair of glasses cost? ›

Your prescription glasses' pricing depends on a variety of variables. Because of this, glasses prices for corrective eyewear can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000 or more. On average, prescription glasses cost around $200, though insurance can determine the final price.

How can I reduce the cost of my glasses? ›

Do you compare the cost of eyeglasses before buying?
  1. Explore Frames. If your doctor sells frames, start by trying on some from his or her selection. ...
  2. Compare Your Options. ...
  3. Negotiate. ...
  4. Divide and Conquer. ...
  5. Don't Pay for Add-ons That Don't Add Up. ...
  6. Consider Buying a Second Pair.
Dec 29, 2016

How are Zenni glasses so cheap? ›

Unlike those retailers, Zenni has its own state-of-the-art production facility with advanced prescription and edging labs. We cut out the middlemen and pass huge savings on to you instead.

Are eye exams free in the US? ›

There are many affordable vision centers in the United States, some even offering free eye exams and eyeglasses.

How long does it usually take to get glasses from America's best? ›

Now, all you want to do is start wearing them. But you'll have to be a bit patient. On average, it takes around 7 to 10 business days for your glasses to arrive at America's Best. It's tough to wait for something when you're really excited about it.

How much does America's Best charge for glasses? ›

We make it easy for you to find the glasses & lenses you need. Our main promotion includes two pairs of prescription eyeglasses for $79.95 with 100s of frames to choose from and a FREE eye exam! This includes single vision uncoated plastic lenses on two frames tagged at $69.95.

What if you are too poor to buy glasses? ›

VISION USA is a service of the American Optometric Association and provides assistance to uninsured, low-income individuals and households. You will need to apply for help. If after applying, you are found to be qualified for assistance you may be eligible to receive services from a local eye doctor.

How do people afford glasses? ›

Some organizations, like the Lions Club, fund programs that cover eyecare as well eyeglasses. These programs help pay for eyeglasses: New Eyes for the Needy: This program buys thousands of pairs of new glasses each year for low-income individuals who otherwise could not afford glasses.

How many people need glasses but can't afford them? ›

Several social enterprises are attempting to provide eyeglasses to the 500 million to 1 billion poor people in the world who need them.

How can I get my glasses prescription without going to the doctor? ›

Thankfully, if you have a pretty basic prescription (meaning they're not bifocals, progressives or co*ke-bottle lenses), there's a free tool from that can scan your current glasses. I took it for a spin with my son's glasses and the results matched his current prescription.

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