When I was a child, my parents took me to the eye doctor only to find out that I was as blind as a bat. Thus began my life-long servitude to the high costs of glasses and eye care expenses. Fortunately, there are several ways to save money on this necessity:
- Check Your Health Insurance: You may be surprised to learn that your health insurance plan may actually include eye care coverage. While the majority of plans won’t cover the actual cost of your prescription glasses or contact lenses, some plans will cover the costs of your eye exams and offer a discount on procedures such as Lasik eye surgery.
- Use your FSA or HSA Dollars: Do you participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) through your employer? If so, your FSA or HSA dollars can often be used for prescription eye wear, including prescription sunglasses and contacts, at specified retailers.
- Use your AAA or AARP Membership: Some stores offer discounts on frames and lenses for qualified AAA or American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Members. For example, at LensCrafters you can use your approved membership to AAA or AARP to receive a 30% off discount on your next pair of glasses or sunglasses made with your prescription.
- Free Replacement and Repair Plans: Some eyeglass stores and clinics offer free replacement and repair plans for your frames and lenses. For example, Walmart will replace or repair your broken or damaged frames or lenses within 12 months of purchase with a receipt. In my personal experience, I have found that large chains such as LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut will adjust or repair your frames for free—even if you bought them at another store!
- Check out Online Discount Retailers: Oftentimes, you will be able to score a better deal on frames and lenses by shopping at an online discount retailer. Great deals can be found at any of these online retailers: 39 Dollar Glasses, EyeBuyDirect, Eyeglass Direct, Global Eye Glasses, Goggles4U, Specs on the Net, and Zenni Optical. Retail stores tend to have higher prices because they have more overhead costs (salaries for on-site opticians, utility bills, etc.) than online retailers.
- Use Coupons and Special Promotions: A great resource for current coupons and special promotions is the regularly updated blog Glassy Eyes. Also, check the web and store websites for deals and coupon codes.
- Claim a Tax Deduction: Your out-of-pocket expenses on prescription glasses and sunglasses, lenses, contacts, and eye care products such as contact solution can normally be deducted on your tax return as medical expenses. Make sure you save your receipts on such products throughout the year.
- DIY Scratch Repair: You may have noticed that lenses with UV/Anti-Glare coating tend to develop tiny scratches that build up over time. Before tossing frames with scratched UV/Anti-Glare lenses in the garbage, consider using Armour Etch, a glass etching cream, to repair the scratches yourself. You can buy at 2.5 oz. bottle of Armour Etch at Overstock.com for only $7.76 plus $2.95 shipping. Armour Etch will remove the UV/Anti-Glare coating from your lenses thus leaving you with unscratched lenses. Armour Etch can only be using on plastic lenses with UV/Anti-Glare coating. If you use it on glass lenses, it will completely destroy them. Since DIY repairs don’t always work out, I suggest only using Armour Etch on spare pairs of glasses or on a pair of glasses that you won’t be absolutely devastated to lose if you happen to destroy them.