Where Do You Go for Eye Exam, Glasses and Contacts?

Updated on February 19, 2013
M.2. asks from Downers Grove, IL
18 answers

Well it's time for my annual vision exam and ordering of my year supply of contacts and I'm thinking about going to my local Sam's Club or Costco instead of my usual small, private vision office. We do not have vision insurance so my annual exam and contact order usually costs over $400! I'll be needing to order a new pair of glasses this year as well and the last pair cost me well over $250! I feel as though these prices may be a bit high but I'm leary of going else where! What are your thoughts on other vision providers such as Sam's Club, Costco, Walmart, etc?????


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answers from Youngstown on

My husband has gone to Walmart the last few times and the glasses and exam were very reasonably prices. The eye doctor was great. I think they are fine and much cheaper than a private practice.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I go to America's Best (I joined their 3 yr program, so I get unlimited free eye exams). I've been perfectly satisfied with the quality of care at my location. Then I take that prescription and go to Costco to buy my contacts. I save, like, $20 per box.

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answers from Phoenix on

For the uninsured, I would absolutely recommend America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. Sign up for their "Eyecare Club" for $99.00 and you get 3 years worth of exams and other perks. It is bar none, the best deal around.

If the prescription is simple, I would also recommend ordering glasses & contacts online. Same exact quality and products you'd find in store, but the glasses, particularly, are a steal.

I do have eye insurance, so the exam and contacts will be covered (with a small co-pay), but the glasses will not (you have to choose either contacts OR glasses), so I'll buy the glasses online, at Zenni Optical, or Goggles4U.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

I go to my local eye dr.
Why do you need both contacts and glasses? get one or the other so you aren't spending so much on them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Used to go to a local optometrist for eye exams and glasses, I never could figure out lenses.

In October I spent money on the best thing ever - laser corrective surgery. It's amazing!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I go to Lenscrafters, one of my friends goes to Walmart. Neither of us have had any issues. We took our daughter to Walmart for a vision exam since she doesn't have eye insurance yet and her ped thought she was nearsighted, and they did a good job for her. We ended up not having to get glasses for her, but the doctor was nice and reasonably priced.

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answers from New York on

Well in a Dr's office you will get the one on one care needed,and any specialties required, these other places I feel are more generic and assemblyline like. And should there be a problem, they are going to send you to a specialist anyway. Ask next time you are in one of these places and see what they offer versus a Dr's office.

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answers from Washington DC on

I go to my local Optometrist. I need reading glasses....but I don't buy them through them anymore since I don't feel like spending $200 on a pair that I can buy at my grocery store or the dollar store for less.

I have not used any of the places you have mentioned for eye care. I don't think they would still be in business if they were bad.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I go to an eye doctor in his office -- I have severe dry eye and get ocular migraines, both of which he diagnosed. Had I been going to the mall, they would have sent me to a doctor anyway. I only wear reading glasses, but I used to wear distance glasses (mild prescription). As I get older, my distance vision is less of a problem, but I'm starting to wear reading glasses -- the doctor didn't try to sell me anything and just recommended drug store glasses for now.


answers from Boise on

We always go to our regular eye doctor. He has been our doctor for 13 years, only in the last two years we go to Walmart to get our glasses. He suggested it, of course of 8 kids over half wear glasses so he knew for us it was a huge money saver, his office is great for glasses but even the 'cheap' ones are expensive and that's with good vision insurance.



answers from Los Angeles on

I don't have eye care insurance anymore either. I usually go to a local optometrist. Whenever I've tried other places (not a doctor I know) I'm disappointed with the level of care and attention to detail. I went to Costco once and would never go back. Too generic.

But I have also noticed (with one local optometrist) they overcharge you on their designer glasses or other extras. So some do that and you need to be careful. I left one such place.

I've had glasses since I was 8 (over 30 years) and I've learned something. I prefer seeing a doctor who cares about and knows my history. I prefer the personal level of service. It's a far cry from Costco. (Example: one time I wanted to try a new place. An OD had a lens store on a busy street. He had a lot of walk in customers. I went to him. He made my prescription full strength. It hurt my eyes so much. He would not switch the lenses and I had to argue with his sales associate. The Dr. blew me off and told me I would get used to it. I dropped it (I was young) and I never went back. First of all, that was unprofessional and uncaring. My regular OD would have NEVER done that. He also would have known, from just talking to me, that I don't want them full strength. Lesson learned: Some doctors are in for it for the money and don't care about building their business and client base.)

Why do you need a new pair of glasses? Has your prescription changed? Could you manage another year with your current pair? If you can, you should.

You could cheat: Go to your local doctor for the proper exam, take the prescription to a place to get it filled cheaply. Ask what they charge for contacts and compare prices. See what your current glass frame subscription is and compare prices.

Next time I need glasses, I think I'll go to Lenscraft (bigger selection, perhaps less expensive.) But I'll go with the eye exam from my local OD.

This is just my opinion. Read the local online reviews for the places you are considering and maybe, just give it a try this year, so you'll know where * you * stand.

Laser treatment: Never in a million years. There are too many horror stories online about it permanent side effects.



answers from Madison on

I go to the eye doctor that is provided through my insurance company. I have always gone to an ophthalmologist vs an optometrist), who is an actual eye doctor who also checks to see if you have any dis-ease or disorders of the body, which they can tell by looking at your eyes (I have high blood pressure, so this is important). This year, I have gone from single vision to bi or multivision glasses (read, I need reading glasses/more strength). And oh boy, did the cost of my glasses go up! (Which I knew it would, because my mom's eyes are bad and she wears multivision and her glasses cost a mint.) So I was prepared. Sort of. You still get blown away by the price, though.

My glasses have never been cheap, even with single-vision lenses (and I almost always buy frames cheap, under $100, $150 a frame). If I buy new lenses and frames, looking at $500-$600 (exam is paid for by insurance with $20 copay by me).

THIS year, I had to go with bifocals. Oh yeah. Paying up the nose and through the eyeballs (I feel eyeglasses are a racket in a half anyway). Since I had just bought my frames last year and they were still good, I was able to get new bifocal lenses for $550 (we have a Medical Flex Spending account, so I got my money back). THAT'S about what I paid last year for my entire eyeglasses, and all I did this year was buy new lenses. However, if I want to get new frames, new bifocal lenses, and sunglasses (or have "clip-on magnetic sunglasses built right into the lenses," I am looking closer to spending $900-$1000 (more, if I outright buy a separate pair of glasses to use as sunglasses because those have to also be bifocals). Yes, you heard that right. That's how much glasses will be for me from now on. Or more. Thank goodness we have our flexible spending account. I hope we always have one, and I hope we're always allowed to put in a lot of money (this year, we get $3000).

Why so much? Well, my eyesight is really bad and my lenses are really thick, so I have to buy the thinnest polymer lenses you can possibly buy so that the glasses aren't that heavy. And the thinnest lenses are very expensive. Then, if you have bifocals, you want to have the very best lens/maker there is, because the QUALITY of the bifocal lens makes a BIG DIFFERENCE as to whether or not you'll be able to see well with the bifocals and/or if you'll have any difficulties wearing them (i.e., whether you'll have bobble-head syndrome or not).

I would do laser surgery in a heartbeat, except I have dry eye and there's absolutely no guarantee that I won't have issues with dry eye--or severe dry eye--after the surgery. It's not a risk I want to take.

Before my eyes got real bad (thick lenses) and I now wear bifocals, I used to buy my glasses at Pearl Vision, Lenscrafters, JCPenny (still wearing the frames I bought here; they have magnetic clip-on sunglasses), even Shopko. But I am stuck, I think, with using my doctor's vision center from now on.

I have a friend who just went into having to wear bifocals. He absolutely hated his and went back and got a pair of reading glasses instead (meaning he has to switch his eyeglasses back and forth, depending on what he's doing). He bought his bifocals, though, at a place like EyeMarket or EyeExpress or some other discount store. Before I even mentioned or talked to my eye doctor about my friend and the issues he was having with his bifocals, my eye doctor told me about not buying bifocals at a cheap eyeglass store. He said those places (and he put Lenscrafter and Pearl Vision and JCPenny into this category) are WONDERFUL places to buy single-vision glasses; they are not so wonderful when it comes to bifocals/multivision glasses because they don't use a good quality lens when crafting their multifocals.


answers from Chicago on

I have been to WalMart, my mom uses Costco, my sister uses her doc and has them filled at Costco. I have found no difference in quality PERSONALLY between WalMart and my expensive doc that I used when I had vision. You do need to do your research on the doc(s) there just like you would any - not all are created equal. My mom drives to the one by my sister vs by her due to quality. My mom lives about an hour away from my sister.



answers from Wausau on

I get my exam done at an optomitrists that I've been seeing for years. My husband and kids go there now too.

Sometimes I get glasses through them - with insurance, it is generally reasonable, particularly for the kids glasses.

Often, I buy glasses online. I always buy backup pairs for the kids online. 39dollarglasses.com and zennioptical.com are great. My husband's last pair of glasses cost $28 from Zenni. That included shipping.

My most recent batch of contacts came from visiondirect.com



answers from Chicago on

I get my glasses from www.coastal.com. They have tons of name brand and cute glasses for under $100 including the lenses (and I have a pretty high prescription!). Right now, they are having a 25% off all glasses sale through Sunday, February 24 (with the promo code PRESIDENTS). I have gotten 3-4 glasses there and have always been happy with the quality and service. Can't beat the price!



answers from Chicago on

I routinely went to Four Eyes or Lenscrafters for years. Two years ago I went to a local optometrist and she said my prescription was too powerful for me. Apparently it's common for them to up your strength minimally to get you to purchase new lenses/glasses. I've been twice and she told me it's optional if I want to get new glasses because my eye sight hasn't changed that much. I do not have eye insurance either and have not found a big difference in price between the two to be honest. If anything I'd go to your local optometrist for the exam and if you feel it would be cheaper to buy the glasses elsewhere take your prescription to costco and buy the glasses there. I'll never go back to a Four Eyes or Lenscrafters!



answers from Austin on

My 23-year-old son had to get glasses for the first time. I researched his area and found that Costco had the cheapest appt. He did not need to be a member. He said it was wonderful. They explained everything so well as he had not been to an eye doctor before. I had worked in the hearing aid dept. at a Costco once and was very impressed by their service so I hoped my son would have a good experience at the Costco near him. He could not buy his glasses there without a membership so they recommended he get his glasses at Walmart.


answers from Sioux City on

I always go to a reputable Eye doctor at his office. I want the one on one, have a relationship, he knows me and my issues, continuity of care type thing. I do take my prescription to a discount place, ShopKo. I don't like Walmart for glasses either. I have gotten several pair there and they are always crappy, they don't know how to adjust them to make them fit when they come in and they fall apart. I can't tell you how many times my lens kept falling out of one pair. Finally they ended up warping the frame and had to allow me to choose another pair free of charge. That pair has even more issues. How frustrating! I do order contacts for my daughter there. I take the prescription from our eye doctor and order the contacts at Walmart to save money. That has worked well.

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