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Wednesday December 2, 2020

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Save Money on Prescription Eyeglasses

What tips can you recommend for finding affordable prescription eyeglasses? I used to have vision insurance through my work but lost it when I turned 65 and signed up for Medicare.

Unfortunately, in 2020 original Medicare does not cover vision services. Routine eye exams and prescriptions are not included, unless you have just had cataract surgery. While there is no single solution to this common need, here are a few tips that can help you save.

Medicare Advantage


While original Medicare does not cover vision services, there are Medicare Advantage plans that do. Medicare Advantage plans are sold through private insurance companies. They cover all the same medical and hospital services included in original Medicare coverage. Many of the plans also provide vision, dental, hearing and prescription drugs coverage.

To locate Advantage plans in your area that provide vision coverage, go to Medicare.gov/plan-compare or call 800-633-4227. Before enrolling in a plan, check the benefit details to ensure the plan's vision coverage includes routine eye exams, eyeglass frames and lenses.

If you are currently enrolled in original Medicare you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan during the open enrollment period, which is between October 15 and December 7. If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan that does not provide adequate vision coverage, you can swap to another plan between January 1 and March 31.

If you do not want to change your Medicare plan, you can get coverage by purchasing a vision insurance policy. Basic vision policies typically start at approximately $10 per month for an individual. Before signing up, make sure your savings potential is worth the cost of the monthly premiums and required copays.

Discount Stores


Purchasing eyeglasses from discount retailers is another way to save. Big box discount stores may offer quality eyewear and low prices. Eyeglasses may cost less, but you may be required to pay an annual membership fee.

You should ask if you are eligible for any discounts. Some retailers provide discounts to membership groups. For example, with an AARP membership, you may receive 30% off a pair of glasses (frames and lenses) at certain retailers. AARP offers its members $55 comprehensive eye exams (dilation included) at participating eye doctors.

Buy Online


Buying eyeglasses online can also offer huge savings. Online only retailers may sell prescription eyeglasses at very minimal cost. These sites may allow you to upload a photo of your face, so you can see what you would look like in different frames. Some retailers allow you to request up to five pairs to try on at home for five days.

To purchase glasses online, you will need a valid prescription, typically no more than a year old, from an eye doctor. The prescription must include your pupillary distance number, which is the distance, measured in millimeters, between the centers of your pupils in each eye.

Low-Income Assistance


If your income is low, there may be local clinics that provide free or discounted eye exams and eyeglasses. You may also be able to get free eyeglasses through nonprofits in your area.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published November 27, 2020
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