When the time comes to get an eye exam, the very first question many people ask is how much is an eye exam going to cost, especially if they aren’t sure if their insurance will cover it. But while there are certain guidelines, eye exam cost can vary depending on the type of clinic or doctor you end up going to, as well as your insurance if you have coverage. So, to clear up some of the questions you are likely to have, let’s explore what is an eye exam, the average eye exam cost in various situations, as well as the cost of an eye exam without insurance.
What is an Eye Exam?
An eye exam may seem like a scary procedure, but in reality, it is painless, simple, and quite quick. In fact, it follows a similar pattern in most cases. First off, the eye doctor will likely ask you about your history, trying to figure out your past issues with eyes, their current condition, if you have ever worn prescription glasses, and anything else that could be relevant. Don’t forget to be forward and tell your eye doctor if you experience blurred vision or eye strain.
Then, your doctor will use a range of devices and procedures to determine your visual acuity, binocular vision, as well as general eye health. Your doctor is likely to use a handheld device called the retinoscope to examine how your eyes refract light. She/he may also use a phoropter to determine which lenses are best suited for the patient, although today, there are more advanced medical devices that can perform this more accurately.
You’ll also likely have the depth of your vision measured as well – the doctor may ask you to follow an object or light with your eyes while keeping your head still to measure stereopsis. In most cases, you will be asked to view objects close up or farther away to evaluate basic binocular vision function. It’s important to mention that many of these procedures have now been partially or fully automated with the help of cutting-edge medical devices, but the exact methods used to measure your eyesight will determine the type of equipment that your doctor or clinic is using.
Average Cost of an Eye Exam
The cost of an eye exam can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of doctor or clinic that you decide to go to. While the basic exam will be similar, the care provider that you choose can determine the level of individual care that you receive. So, let’s look at some of the more common options, as well as how much for an eye exam should you expect to pay in different situations.
- Private Doctors
As you can probably imagine, seeing a private eye doctor will likely increase the eye exam cost, especially if you don’t have insurance. On average, such an exam can cost you around $200, which can seem a bit costly. However, if you have been dealing with eye issues and want to get more precise answers, getting the highest available care and expertise may be worth it.
- Retailer Clinics
Retailer clinics like Walmart, Sam’s Club, and others, have been growing increasingly popular because they offer sufficient services for a relatively low price of eye exams. For instance, at Walmart, you can get a basic eye exam for as little as $75, and even get a lens fitted for around $50 more. Although you may have doubts about going to retailer clinics to get your eyes examined, the truth is, their lower price doesn’t always mean inferior quality. These clinics are still run by doctors of optometry who have the medical training necessary to provide you with an accurate assessment.
- Discount Eye Clinics
Finally, you can opt for discount eye clinics like Pearle Vision or Lenscrafters, which operate in major malls across the country. The eye exam cost can be as low as $70, and you can get an exam and a lens fitting for around $120, depending on which clinic you choose. The good news is that these chains also offer a range of designer and more affordable eyeglass frames, so you can get all of your glasses needs handled in one place.
Cost Without Insurance
The costs discussed above presume that you don’t have health insurance coverage for eye exams and would be paying out of pocket. Depending on your plan, you may have partial or full coverage for eye exams in certain clinics, but if you don’t, these options can be a good way to get your eyes examined at a relatively affordable cost and get glasses fitted at the same time.
Factors Contributing to Exam Cost
You may be wondering, what exactly determines how much are eye exams at different service providers. After all, the basic service is mostly the same, so what makes up the difference in price?
Well, there are a few main factors. For instance, when you opt for a private clinic, you are going to be examined by a more experienced optometrist, who started their own practice and is likely excelling in the field. That doesn’t mean that discount or retail clinics have inferior doctors, just that they may be less experienced, although that’s not always the case. Another contributing factor is the equipment that is used–more expensive clinics may have newer and more accurate equipment, although as far as chain eye clinics go, they usually have sufficient equipment as well.
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