The thought of having an eye exam can be both unnerving and calming. On the one hand, you have no idea what you will uncover. On the other hand, you can get a swift diagnosis of eye problems before they progress. That way, you can deter vision loss from taking place. So if you do think about it, getting an eye exam could be the means to save your sight.

As you think about getting an eye exam, some thoughts are sure to run through your mind. For one, how much will it cost you, more so now that your insurance does not cover it?

Also, how often do you have to part with the given amount of cash? Other than money, is there anything else you need to take to the doctor’s office? Such questions can weigh heavily on you as you contemplate that trip to the doctor’s office.

In this article, we will answer most, if not all, such questions. That way, you can have the tools needed to make this critical decision.

How much does an eye exam cost?

This factor might be the most important to you right now. The good thing is that the cost is not fixed, and it varies based on where you get the exam done. It also depends on market rates and other factors as follows:

A basic eye exam will not cost you much. However, if you need additional tests done during the procedure, those figures are sure to rise. In some cases, you may find that you need to undertake some fitting tests. That way, you do not end up with uncomfortable lenses. Also, the cost will depend on whether your consultation takes place under an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Note that if the eye exam is for contact lenses, you will spend more than someone going in for a routine check. Routine eye exams include general eye health examinations as well as the upgrading of eyeglasses prescriptions. As such, you cannot expect to pay X like someone who is undergoing a routine exam. If you want contact lenses, you should ask someone who had the same done. Then you might find that the cost is Y.

The comprehensiveness of the eye exam also influences how much you pay. Getting sub-standard services might be cheap, but it could cost you in the long run. So if you find someone willing to take shortcuts with your health, do not agree to it. An exam should encompass your family and personal health history. That way, the doctor can assess eye problems in the past as well as underlying health conditions that risk your eye health.

They will also conduct some physical exams where your vision will be put to the test. For this, they use an eye chart. Some people have been known to memorize the eye chart. Do not do this as you will not get the help you need if you need it.

Additionally, the doctor will check for eye health issues such as myopia, astigmatism, and farsightedness. The ability of your eyes to work together is also put to the test, as is their pressure. Elevated eye pressure can lead to the development of glaucoma, which is a threat to vision. In most cases, people with glaucoma do not notice changes in their vision.

The disease starts by attacking the peripheral vision before moving on to the central vision. Unfortunately, you cannot reverse sight loss owing to glaucoma. As such, you should catch the disease early by having a thorough eye exam.

The doctor will check the optic nerve to ensure that no adverse changes are in play. The interior of your eyes allows the doctor to confirm or rule out the presence of eye diseases such as cataracts.

If you are getting contact lens, your tests will go above and beyond the above. As such, when getting estimates for your eye exam, you should also include tests that will take place. Some vision centers will advertise an attractive fee. However, once they add the costs of the extras, you will find that they are more expensive than you thought.

While cost is essential, you should not compromise on the quality of the services rendered. Think about how friendly and professional the staff in the hospital is. Also, consider the waiting times, the qualifications of the doctors, the availability of modern equipment, convenience, and opening times. All these will affect how comfortable you will be during the eye exam.

Thanks to the internet, you can look up a clinic online and get reviews on their services. Alternatively, you can ask your loved ones for referrals. It enables you to get firsthand information as to the expected services.

Start by visiting the clinic and assessing its services before making an appointment. You will be spending hard-earned money on the procedure, and you do deserve your money’s worth.

How much can you expect to pay? We have covered that a standard eye exam covers your medical history, visual acuity, depth perception, vision, and response to light, muscle movements, and more. The findings on these tests determine the need for more tests.

Private doctors

The appeal of private doctors is that you can establish a relationship with the doctor. It helps to see a familiar face each time you go to the doctor’s office. You cannot expect this when dealing with discount stores. However, in the latter case, you can save a chunk of cash.

A standard eye exam at a private doctor will cost you about $192. While this may be a lot, it is a good option for people with particular eye health issues. They can get the specialized treatment they need. Also, if you want a doctor-patient relationship, this is the way to go.

Discount retailers

If you want to save money and still get an eye exam done, you can rely on discount retailers. One such retailer is Walmart, where eye exams start at about $75. Where the exam involves fitting of the lens, you should pay about $125 going up to around $150. The cost varies based on location. However, compared to private doctors, you can see that you would save a lot of cash.

Sam’s Club and Costco also offer such services. Their standard eye exams start at about $45 and $70, respectively. For lens, you should expect to part with about $75 and $105.

You might wonder what would make the costs vary so much between the private doctors and large retailers. It comes down to the scale of economies. These doctors operating in retail stores spend little on overheads.

Also, they see many clients in a day, allowing them to reap a tidy profit. It helps to note that retail stores only employ qualified and certified eye doctors. As such, you would not be putting your eye health at risk. However, owing to the high turnover in these places, you cannot establish a lasting relationship with your doctor.

Optical chain stores

Optical chain stores are present in almost any large shopping center, and they offer eye exams at affordable prices. Costs can start from as low as $70, depending on the store in question.

Fitting of the lens will also not cost you much above this. Additionally, the stores provide their clients with a range of frames, which is a plus.

On average, people part with $200 for their initial tests, $128 for follow up tests, and $46 for refractive vision tests.


While there are affordable eye exams in the market, you may feel tempted to try self-diagnosis. After all, there are so many online exams nowadays. Why not jump in on one that tests visual acuity and other such factors? Well, this is what you should know.

When you have an eye problem such as myopia, the problem does not go away after you get some alleviation. Instead, it progresses. That’s why you need to consult your doctor about getting new glasses or contact lenses.

The doctor will give you an expected time of prescription. And when it comes about, you can already tell there has been a change in vision. The underlying eye problem does not change. So, if you ignore it and pass up that eye exam, you will probably not suffer much.

However, you will bear the brunt of it when you are unable to perform specific tasks owing to blurriness or other vision changes. People in this category can skip one or two exams, ensuring they do not go more than two years without exams. In this case, some form of self-diagnosis can work, because you already know what the problem is.

The second form of self-diagnosis is where you suspect there is something wrong with your eyes. You do not have an underlying eye problem, and all you have is a suspicion. If you go online, you will find many eye exams, some of which are even free to take. They go into visual acuity and refractive errors, as well as other factors your doctor would take into account.

As such, they may seem comprehensive, with their several exam stages and all. Some companies can even offer you a change in contact lens or glasses prescriptions. All you have to do is take an online test and voila, you get new glasses at your doorstep.

Not only are these exams convenient, but they are also fair on the pocket. Turning them down may seem hard. However, note that these tests are not comprehensive. They do not deal with what could be happening in your eyes, such as the development of glaucoma. In the early stages of this disease, you can see well, only that your peripheral vision may not be good.

As such, you can think you are treating it by getting glasses or contact lenses. You may even believe that what you need is a stronger pair of glasses, but that could not be further from the truth. Only an extensive eye exam can confirm or rule out the possibility of a severe eye condition.

Self-diagnosis may work in a range of situations, and online tests have proven that. When it comes to the eye, though, they are not sufficient. They could act as a band-aid for a while. That should not be a chance you are willing to take. If indeed, you are suffering from a severe eye condition, you could be risking your vision.

What are the benefits of an eye exam?

Thus far, we have covered the costs incurred when getting an eye exam. Some are quite high, while others are reasonable. It might have you wondering if you need an eye exam. Can you do without it, or do you have to fork out some cash now and then for the same? Well, here are the benefits of getting it done:


Let’s start by focusing on children. They learn through visuals for a huge percentage of their time in school. If a child cannot see well, they cannot follow what the teacher is illustrating. Thinking back, you can probably remember a child who squinted at people a lot. Then one day, they came into class with a pair of eyeglasses, and the squinting was no more.

Without an eye exam, parents cannot tell if their children see well. And teachers may not understand why a child is unable to follow lessons in class. This vision problem not only affects a child’s studies but also affects their social relations.

By ruling out the possibility of a vision problem, teachers and parents can work together to understand why the child is not doing well. In some cases, the child cannot follow lessons because they cannot see well. It is that simple.

For adults, the case is almost the same. You cannot deliver your best work if you cannot concentrate on the task at hand. If you feel that there have been changes to your vision, you need an eye exam. It is only through this that you can confirm or rule out the presence of an eye problem. Your doctor can then advise you on the best way forward.

The risk of myopia

The number of people with myopia is growing at a steady rate. At a glance, this condition may not seem like a big deal. After all, you can get contact lenses and eyeglasses and work as you would. However, you should note that this condition is progressive. That means that it worsens by the day. If you do not get an early diagnosis, it could progress to the point that hurts your social and economic welfare.

Myopic people are also at risk of developing severe eye conditions later in their lives. These include glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. Also, their vitreous syneresis takes place much earlier than that of other people. As such, they develop floaters earlier than most people.

With these concerns, you should find out if you are myopic at an early stage. For example, if your child has a risk of myopia and you find out early, you can have some interventions in place. That way, you can slow the progress of the disease, thereby reducing the chances of more severe eye conditions.


Self-diagnoses, as well as vision screenings, can make you think that all is well with your sight. A significant part of the population believes that this is all you need. If you can read the numbers and the letters, then you do not need an eye exam. That is not true.

These tests will only work in confirming or ruling out the possibility of vision problems. However, they cannot show if you have an underlying health issue that could threaten your health.

Take an example of glaucoma. In the early stages, you can prevent its progression and save your sight. But at this stage, it is hard to tell that you have a problem. You can thus pass the vision screenings and go about your life. All the while, the disease is affecting your vision and could lead to a loss of the same.

A comprehensive eye exam, on the other hand, works in confirming or ruling out serious eye health issues. The doctor can see into your eyes and can tell if you need early interventions or not. This test will indicate the presence of diseases, even when their symptoms are not apparent.

So if you wish to get early diagnoses, you cannot rely on simple tests such as vision screenings. They will only give you a false sense of confidence that could cost you in the future.


If you read through what I have written throughout this article, you will notice an emphasis on glaucoma. Why is that? Well, of most severe eye conditions, this one tends to rob you of your sight without apparent symptoms. You can think of it as a sneak that works right under your nose, but you cannot see it (well, or above it).

When this condition presents in the early stages, it does so with little or no symptoms. It starts by affecting the peripheral vision. For most activities, you rely on the central vision. These activities include driving, writing, walking, shopping, and other such regular tasks. As such, noticing a change in vision at this point would be hard. You would still pass vision screenings and probably do well in online eye exams. Can you see how risky that is?

In the early stages, your doctor can diagnose the problem and put measures in place to protect the central vision. If you have lost part of the peripheral vision, it is a permanent change. Now, the problem comes in where there are no interventions in place. That means that the disease now starts affecting the central vision.

At this point, any loss that takes place is permanent. It is also much harder to control the disease at this point, and it could cause blindness.

Going to the doctor’s office for regular checkups can help point out risk factors for this disease. They include high eye pressure and continued use of some risk drugs.

Underlying health issues

You could think that you are going in for a routine check to find out something about your eyes. And as you walk out with a summary in hand, you find out that you have diabetes. Yes. That is possible, and it has happened to many people.

We often think of our eyes as the windows to the soul. Health-wise, they serve as windows to underlying health conditions. As the doctor assesses the blood vessels in the retina, they also get a feel of what blood vessels in other parts look like. They can diagnose conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes using this.

As such, going in for an eye exam could help you understand what has changed in your body. Where you have a risk of lifestyle diseases, taking eye exams should be part of your annual routine.

Let’s take diabetes as an example. In its early stages, there are no apparent signs, and it progresses in stealth. However, an eye exam can confirm its presence, allowing you to prevent further deterioration of your health. Furthermore, the management of this disease prevents loss of vision in the future.


At this point, you can see that regular exams can help you pinpoint systemic diseases such as diabetes. They also help in diagnosing some neurologic conditions that could affect your eyesight. Furthermore, they work in the screening of cancer. The doctor can see tumors in parts of the eye.

Take an example of melanoma, a tumor found in the skin. Sometimes, this can be present in the choroid, allowing for timely detection and treatment.

Fitting of eyewear

Wearing glasses and lenses allows you to see clearly. The doctor will assess the state of your eyes and determine the need or lack thereof of corrective eyewear. They also check any that you might be wearing and their impacts on your eye health.

In some cases, you might not be wearing correctly fitted lenses, and this can lead to eye infections. It can also cause scarring of the cornea. You should get an eye exam to rule out incorrect fitting to avoid damage to the eye.

When should you get your eye exam?

Now you know how much an exam can cost you and why you should get one. The question now is when you should get these exams done. Ideally, you should get your eyes checked annually or biannually. However, the frequency will depend on your age and any risk factors in play. Also, people who wear corrective eyewear may need more exams as compared to other people.


We have covered that vision problems affect a child’s ability to pay attention in school. That’s because most learning takes place visually. If your child is unable to follow the instructions, their education will suffer.

Children should get their eyes tested before joining school. Ideally, this should start at six months such that the doctor can diagnose any likely eye problems. From then on, another test should happen when they are three years old. Any changes between the two eye checks will help the doctor analyze the child’s eye care needs. Another test should take place before they join school. If everything seems fine, eye checks should continue every two years until the child is eighteen.

For children with risk factors, an eye exam may be necessary before six months of age. Also, they will need more checks as compared to those stated above. Risk factors in children include premature birth, low birth weight, delays in development, and infections of the mother during pregnancy and crossed eyes. A family history of eye problems, physical diseases, and high refractive errors could also increase the need for frequent checks.

Children with these risk factors, as well as those who wear corrective eyewear, require annual checks. Your doctor will advise you as to the best frequency in this case.


Adults should get comprehensive eye exams every two years or sooner. Those aged above sixty should get checked every year. The frequency of the checks depends on the presence of any risk factors. These include systemic diseases, family history of eye problems, visually demanding careers, eye surgeries and trauma, and taking of drugs.

Adults who wear corrective eyewear require exams every year or sooner, based on their needs. Your doctor should assess your eyes and determine how often you should get them checked.

Suitable doctors for an eye exam

Not every doctor will give you the comprehensive exam needed to confirm or rule out possible eye health issues. You should make an appointment with a licensed eye doctor, and not one who practices general medicine. They are as follows:

  • Ophthalmologists: these are doctors who have completed medical school and taken part in post-graduate training. They conduct eye exams and treat medical conditions related to the eye. They also have the expertise to undertake eye surgery where necessary, and they can prescribe corrective eyewear.
  • Optometrists: these are eye doctors who have gone to college and attained a degree in optometry. They can diagnose eye problems as well as treat them with medicines such as eye drops. They also conduct eye exams and prescribe corrective eyewear as well as therapy to their patients. Only a few of these can perform eye surgery.
  • Opticians: note that these are not eye doctors, but rather, they are eye care professionals. They receive their training through an apprenticeship or attending technical schools, and work in providing and adjusting corrective eyewear to their patients. They can also fit contact lens when working with an eye doctor.


Getting a regular eye exam could be the difference between saving your vision and losing it. Note that vision screenings and online eye exams will not prove you with the comprehensiveness you need for a diagnosis. It is thus best that you weigh the eye exam options and find one that can work for you.