When To Go To The Eye Doctor

Taking proper care of your vision and eyesight is critical for your overall health and well-being. This article discusses why you should regularly visit the eye doctor and the benefits of having vision insurance. 

Everyone knows that caring for their eyesight and vision is a critical part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, for various reasons, many people put off or skip regularly visiting an eye doctor and having the routine vision and eye health checks performed. Most likely, this negligence stems from the fact that eye doctor visits are often not covered by standard medical insurance policies or that people do not experience issues with vision and do not think a check is required. 

However, once you have found an eye doctor that meets your needs and have established a routine, you will find that vision care comes easy and can be an affordable part of your overall health. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of visiting an eye doctor and best practices for using vision insurance to alleviate some of the associated costs. 

Why Go To The Eye Doctor? 

Your eyes are something you use all day, every day, and do not often think about until something goes wrong. However, routine checks are essential to identifying problems before they get too out of control and lead to something more serious. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that most adults check their eyes with a professional at least once a year.

The reasons for regular eye checks are many. For example, the ophthalmologist will look at factors such as your age and family history to determine if you might have an increased risk for specific conditions or diseases that affect the eye. They can also spot many eye diseases early before the patient would notice symptoms on their own. 

Additionally, if you already wear glasses or contacts, you should visit the eye doctor regularly to ensure that your prescription remains up to date. Even slight changes in your vision can affect how well you see with your existing glasses or contacts. Contact lens wearers also need to make sure that the contacts they wear are not causing any damage to their eyes. Retailers will not refill most contact lens prescriptions without an eye doctor's current prescription on file.  

Benefits of Going to the Eye Doctor 

The primary benefit of regularly going to the eye doctor is the assurance that your eyes are healthy, functioning as they should, and that you are seeing as clearly as possible. People who do not already wear glasses or contacts often may have changes in their vision but not notice them because their eyes are straining to compensate for the changes.

In addition to making sure that your eyes are healthy, and your vision is the best that it can be, eye doctors also prove helpful in identifying other potential health problems not related to the eye at all. As the doctor looks into the nerves and blood vessels within the eye, they can often detect other potential problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These findings will prompt you to have further checks from your physician and may help you obtain early intervention before a problem worsens. 

Finally, eye doctors can also assist with other simple vision and eye-related annoyances, such as nighttime glare when driving, and dry or irritated eyes.

Benefits of Having Vision Insurance

Since the costs associated with vision care are one of the main reasons that deter people from regular eye exams, considering vision insurance has many benefits. If you have health insurance benefits through your company or workplace, you will want to check and see whether they also offer a vision insurance option that you can add as well. Often, adding this option to your standard policy will not increase the cost of your premium by that much. In the end, it will actually end up saving you money.  

If you are self-insured or your company or workplace does not offer a vision insurance package, you can purchase your own through many independent insurance companies. Companies such as United Healthcare and VSP Direct allow individuals to purchase vision insurance for themselves and their families directly. Often you can receive a quote by simply entering a bit of information about yourself on the website. From there, you can easily sign-up for a plan and start coverage almost immediately without a waiting period. 

Cost of Eye Doctor Visit 

If you are not yet convinced that vision insurance can significantly reduce your associated costs for routine and specialized eye care, look at comparing some of the costs based on using insurance and not having insurance. 

The average cost of a regular preventative eye exam is about $100. However, depending on location and doctor, it can sometimes cost $250 or more. Places like Walmart, Costco, and Lenscrafters typically average around $75 out of pocket. Your regular eye exam will include an additional contact lens fitting fee if you wear contact lenses, which typically runs about $85. If each individual in a family of four receives routine eye care, the costs can quickly add up.  

Vision insurance greatly helps people manage these costs, as for most policies, the patient will only incur a small co-pay for their routine visit—typically $10 to $15. Some insurance companies do not require a co-pay at all for routine exams. 

Vision insurance may also cover the costs associated with non-routine eye-doctor visits, such as a medical problem with the eye. Without insurance, these visits can prove quite expensive. 

Cost of Contacts and Glasses 

As with routine eye exams, vision insurance can also significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses for contact lenses and glasses. Most people who wear contact lenses wear a disposable kind that typically runs out and requires re-ordering approximately every six months. A six-month supply of contact lenses may cost well over $200, depending on brand and type. With vision insurance, you may pay much less or even be entitled to an allowance that covers a yearly supply of lenses. 

The same thing holds true for glasses, both for frames and lenses. Without insurance, frames alone generally run $200 or more on average. With insurance, the average drops to about $45. When you add the regular prescription lenses to the frame, you need to factor in an additional $100. Insurance typically brings this cost down to $25 or less. Finally, sometimes your lens will need enhancements (such as scratch resistance or anti-glare). With insurance, you can expect to save 50 percent or more on the costs of these add-ons.