Eye Exam...Opthalmologist Vs. Optometrist

Updated on June 15, 2009
J.C. asks from San Rafael, CA
5 answers

I need to get an eye exam but my medical insurance does not cover vision care. I wondered if any of you know approximately how much an eye exam costs. I'm assuming that since an opthalmologist is an MD, it is more costly to see one rather than an optometrist. I also wondered if any of you have been to the optometrists located at, Lens Crafters, Costco, Sears, etc.? Do you have any recommendations? I'm located in the San Rafael area. Thanks so much.

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answers from San Francisco on

The first question is what you are accomplishing with a visit to the eye doctor.

An Opthalmologist is an MD and his primary focus is eye health, disease, surgeries.

An Optometrist main focus is refractions for prescription corrections, contacts, and they do some follow-up medical care of opthalmology surgeries.

If you are needing an updated prescription and then contacts or eyewear then you should see an Optometrist which is their speciality. If you see an Opthalmogist most will charge you an additional refraction fee on top of your exam fee and have an in house opometrist refract you. An Optometrist will also do a health check of the eye and if they see something out of the ordinary you will get a referral on to an opthalmologist.

My recommmendation is to support one of our local optometrists and not a chain store. Most local OD's prices are less or equal to lenscrafters after they add on all their extras.(I used to manage one of the premier optical shops in San fran and consistantly beat Lenscrafter prices in an Apple to Apple comparision.....although I had much better Oranges also for sale and had all optical lens products at my disposal so i custom recommended on a per patient basis what to use rather than have a chain store who only uses one manufacturers product because they buy in bulk prices. Also the money you are paying for your services is staying here in our community rather than helping a big corporation which is outside california prosper. My family and friends personally use Dr Nicholas Kerry in San Anselmo.....a no frills looking practice but a good OD who teaches at UC Berkeley and a great community guy. There are many great places and I am sure you have friends who can recommend you others. the other reason to see an independent OD rather than a doc in the box (walmart, target, costco, lenscrafters) is that they are part of their community and own their practices and care about patient satisfication and longterm care.



answers from San Francisco on

Actually many insurances that do not cover optometrist visits will cover opthamologists. Optometrists only deal with vision while opthamologists deal with all sorts of eye issues. We do not have vision coverage but our insurance covers my son's vists to the opthamologist because he has a lazy eye, which is a problem of the eye muscles. WHile we are there he gets a vision exam within the lazy eye exam. They also would cover glaucoma treatment or any other eye problem except vision correction. See if your regular doctor mgiht know of a reason you could be reffere to the opthamologist and submit it to your insurance for approval.



answers from San Francisco on


I used to have my eyes examined at the Lenscrafters at Northgate Mall in San Rafael and they always did a great job. Not sure what's happened to them during the mall renovation. I always had some kind of insurance when I went to them, so don't know about cost differences. The insurance I have now is different and I go to Craig McCurdy in Novato. I've been very pleased with him and everybody in his office.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

HI! I used to manage Site For Sore Eyes in S.F. and if you need an eye exam because you need glasses or contacts this is a good affordable, easy to schedule option.

If you have medical issues I would request a referral from your GP. Insurance may not cover an eye exam but if you are having headaches, etc. and think it may be related they can refer you and the exam should be covered.



answers from San Francisco on

I've been to Dr. Marc Lester out of San Francisco for many years. He's an opthalmologist and I think it costs around $100 for an exam. Be sure and tell them it is out of pocket b/c I think the cost is less. Best of luck!

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