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How much do glasses cost?

What do glasses cost? text over image of senior woman smiling wearing eyeglasses

Posted on September 23, 2021 by Kyle Walton

Why is vision care so important for seniors?

As we age, our eyesight is often one of the first things to suffer. Eyes are a delicate organ, and their complex structure can become easily worn down over the years. Common age-related eyesight issues include:


Someone with presbyopia will often have trouble getting their eyes to focus on close-up objects, impacting their ability to read small print, and causing headaches or eye strain as a result. Presbyopia usually starts as early as your 40s, when the lens of your eye hardens and the delicate muscles around the lens begin to change.


Cataracts are unfortunately very common among older adults. Often associated with the natural process of aging, it is estimated that nearly half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they reach 80 years old.

Cataracts occur when the natural proteins of your eye’s lens begin to break down, often causing blurry, cloudy, or dim vision, double vision in one eye, trouble seeing at night, light sensitivity, and faded colors.


While floaters are usually harmless, they can be quite annoying to deal with on a daily basis. Basically, floaters are shadows of vitreous, which is a gel-like substance that allows your eye to hold its round shape, reflected on the retina.

Floaters can appear as spots, threadlike strands, or squiggles that drift around your eye even when it is not moving. If you start to notice many floaters, it could be a sign that part of the vitreous has pulled away from the retina all at once, causing what is known as a retinal detachment. This can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Dry Eyes

The purpose of our tears is to moisten our eyes, reducing the risk of infection and keeping the cornea smooth and clear. As we age, however, our eyes can begin to have difficulty manufacturing high-quality tears, resulting in dry eyes that may burn, itch, cause your vision to become blurry, or cause your tear ducts to begin producing tears at an overactive rate.

If dry eyes become too severe, the cornea can become damaged, permanently impairing your vision. For milder symptoms, over-the-counter eye drops may help, but for more severe symptoms, prescription drops are often required.

With proper vision care, it is possible to limit the impact eyesight issues, like those mentioned above, will have on your daily life, especially if you have proper insurance coverage for glasses, contacts, or other prescription medication for your eyes.

What do glasses cost with and without insurance?

Before deciding how to afford glasses, contacts, or other eye-related prescriptions, you must first schedule an eye exam with a professional optometrist (eye doctor). During the exam, your doctor may ask you for your medical history and will perform a series of tests to determine the prescription you may require.

These exams, as well as glasses, contacts, prescription eye drops, and other eye care needs, can become extremely costly if you are not covered for vision care by insurance. In addition, shopping around for new prescription glasses can be quite difficult due to a lack of physical stores.

What is the cost of glasses without insurance?

The out-of-pocket costs associated with prescription eyeglasses and other eye needs can vary dramatically based on a variety of factors, including your prescription level, frames, lenses, the region in which you live, and the eyewear brand you purchase.

Typically, the average cost of glasses without insurance is around $242 for the frames alone, with an additional $113 for a pair of basic, single lenses. Not to mention, you will also have to pay for the cost of your eye exam out-of-pocket as well. This means that altogether, you can expect to pay upwards of $500 for a single pair of prescription glasses.

What is the cost of glasses with insurance?

When it comes to glasses and other vision needs, each retailer may handle your health insurance differently. Some stores will allow one to process their insurance upfront, while others will require you to pay for the glasses first, and then be reimbursed by your insurance. Either way, purchasing prescription glasses with insurance is significantly more affordable than attempting to do so without insurance. 

Vision insurance costs can vary depending on your plan and your state of residence, but usually, the only out-of-pocket costs you will be responsible for paying is your monthly or annual insurance premium, and copays that are paid to the doctor, pharmacy, or eyewear retailer at the time of service. Typically, you can expect vision care copays to cost between $10-$25.

In addition, vision insurance may assist you in paying for upgrades to your eyewear, including anti-reflective coating and enhanced lenses, as well as additional services like annual eye exams and possibly even discounted rates for eyesight-related surgery.

Happy Senior Couple Sitting On Sofa With Dog

Does Medicare cover glasses for seniors?

Currently, Original Medicare Parts A and B do not cover any of the costs associated with vision needs, other than reconstructive surgery as a result of an accident or injury and on occasion, glaucoma screenings.

If you are a senior or qualifying disabled individual who is currently enrolled in Original Medicare and nothing else, vision needs like exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses, and prescription eye drops are not covered.

However, you may be eligible for vision coverage under Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are additional, more comprehensive insurance plans that are offered by private insurance companies. Though premiums, deductibles, and copays can vary from plan-to-plan, Medicare Advantage typically includes coverage for vision needs, like glasses, contacts, and eye exams, and can even be bundled with Medicare Part D, giving you prescription drug coverage as well.

In addition, you may be eligible to lower your prescription costs even further through something called Extra Help, which offers even greater assistance in paying for Medicare drug coverage provided you meet certain income and resource limits.

If you’re interested in learning more about the available Medicare Advantage plans in your area, don’t hesitate to contact the insurance experts at MedicareInsurance.com by phone, or via our online chat feature today!

About the Author

Kyle Walton

Kyle is a professional writer with several years of experience helping to inform the public on many diverse topics and industries, including healthcare. He is a Kutztown University graduate, Class of 2017.

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