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5 ways to save on eye care

By Paula Pant · Bankrate.com
Monday, August 25, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

I've needed glasses or contact lenses since I was 12 years old. That vision correction has come at a steep price.

Eye care is important, but it's also expensive. Many insurance plans don't cover optometry. From the cost of eye exams to reordering glasses, taking care of my vision has cost me more than $10,000 out of pocket over the span of my life (so far).

So, I am always looking for ways to save. Here are five tips on how to save money on the cost of eye care.

1. Get regular checkups

This might sound counterintuitive, but paying for regular eye exams is one of the best ways to save money on eye care over the long haul.

Why? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 million Americans are at risk of losing their eyesight, but only half of these people have seen an eye doctor in the previous year.

Many common causes of blindness -- including glaucoma and macular degeneration -- are treatable if caught early, but irreversible if caught late. Once these problems have progressed, treatment and management will be more expensive, not less.

2. Look for mail-in rebates

Many eyeglass and contact lens manufacturers offer special deals in the form of mail-in rebates. This is especially true if you buy a one-year supply of contact lenses upfront.

Look for rebates and mail them immediately. Don't put it off until the weekend, or you might forget to do so -- and miss out on the savings.

3. Buy generic

Need contact lens solution? Generic-brand solution, such as the store brands carried by Target or Wal-Mart, is just as effective, safe and sterile as major brand-name solution.

4. Reuse old glasses frames

If your prescription changed but your eyeglasses are in good shape, ask your doctor if you can reuse your old frames.

Many providers allow you to put your new prescription lenses into your old frames. That saves both money and resources.

5. Pay with your HSA or FSA

Check with your human resources department to see if your health insurance plan is compatible with a health savings account or flexible spending account. If you are self-employed or self-insured, you can find this information in the sales materials that came with your health policy.

If you are eligible, open an HSA or FSA and use this money to pay for eligible eye care expenses. This allows you to cover your costs with pretax dollars.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.

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5 Comments
SUNRISE
September 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm

60 MINUTES HAD A STORY THAT ALL THE FRAMES ARE MADE BY ONE MANUFACTURER IN EUROPE WHO OWNS ALL THE OTHER COMPANIES THAT SELL FRAMES TO THE RETAILERS.

rat tiberio
August 26, 2014 at 9:55 pm

why do frames cost so much when they are made by a chinaman making 50 cents an hour ? that is one heck of a mark up !

rpeifer
August 26, 2014 at 4:28 pm

An ophthalmologist is fine, but so is a good optometrist. Both are competent doctors who are able to diagnose eye diseases.

rjschoon
August 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm

See an ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam

Doug Radish
August 26, 2014 at 11:58 am

All of your bullet points are excellent in saving money, but item 3---buy Generic- can lead to problems with your contact lenses. Most of my practice is related to contact lenses and their problems and solution problems cause most of the issues. Ask your doctor is generic solutions can be used or if they can cause compatibility problems with their lenses. Generic solutions are not like generic drugs, they can be different from the name brand solutions.

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