The American Optometric Association recommends that children and adults receive an eye exam every one or two years, depending on age and risk factors. For those who don’t have access to vision insurance, the cost of eye care exams can add up quickly. Knowing where to find discount eye exams means you can get the eye care you need and still save money.
Take stock of any club memberships you have; some of them may help you save on eye care. AAA members need only show their membership card at any LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sears Optical or PearleVision) location to receive a 30 percent discount off an eye exam.
AARP members can get a routine eye exam for only $45 at many of the same businesses that offer a AAA discount–LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sears Optical, PearleVision and JCPenney Optical. AARP membership also helps you save on eye care with discount contact lenses, glasses lenses and frames.
Many independent eye care providers will also offer discounted prices with your AAA or AARP membership. This varies from doctor to doctor, so the only way you’ll even know if you could be entitled to a discount eye exam is if you ask.
Do you have a Sam’s Club or Costco Card? If so, you might be entitled to discounted eye exams that cost well under $100 at in-store optical centers. Other in-store optical centers that don’t require memberships, such as Wal-Mart and Target Optical, may also offer low-cost vision exams; prices vary somewhat from store to store, so your best bet is usually to call. Make sure you specify whether you need a glasses or contacts exam, as the latter may cost more.
Lastly, if there’s an America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses near you, consider joining their eye care club. Once you join, you’re entitled to free eye exams for the duration of the 3-year ($99) or 5-year ($139) membership period, plus a discount on eyeglasses and contacts. Prices listed are current as of December 2010.
Be a Coupon Clipper
Look the back of your local yellow pages phone book; sometimes there will be coupons for discount eye exams. Be sure to check coupon inserts and advertisements in the local paper and neighborhood-distributed coupon books as well; you’ll sometimes find coupons to help you save on eye exams.
Sign up for Newsletters
Visit websites for eye care companies near you like Pearlevision. They occasionally offer discounts on eye care services and products; if you sign up for their newsletter, you'll hear about discount eye exams and other savings as soon as they become available.
Deal or No Deal
There’s one potential pitfall to getting a cheap eye exam: Some providers may refuse to release your prescription to you, insisting that you purchase your contact lenses or glasses from them. Turn this to your advantage by bargaining to get the lowest- cost eye exam possible. Some companies, like America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, may even be willing to throw in a free eye exam if you agree to purchase your glasses or contacts from them.
- American Optometric Association recommendations http://www.aoa.org/documents/Recommendations-for-Regular-Optometric-Care.pdf