For the vision impaired: getting the most from your eye doctor

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I am a proud wearer of glasses. Almost three years ago, I switched from getting glasses from my optometrist to Warby Parker, and I’ve never looked back since. I’ve gotten many compliments on my glasses over the years, and I firmly believe that I’ve also saved money, which involves quite a story. Regardless, if you are vision impaired like me, check out WP! They have this awesome Home Try-On program that lets you pick out five different styles of glasses for freeeeee. Fair warning: I would definitely categorize these glasses as “hipster”. If that’s not your thing, then Zenni Optical has a wide variety of affordable options. My parents and siblings all wear glasses from there. I’m the outcast sitting over here with Warby Parker. I do believe, though, that if you try them, you’ll like them!

 

I first got glasses my freshman year of high school, when I got tired of squinting at the whiteboard and began fearing that I would develop permanent wrinkles. Seeing is really, really nice. That goes without saying, but I still want to say it. A blurry world can sometimes seem peaceful, but when the world isn’t sharp, I’m not, either.

After having glasses for a few years, my parents allowed me to get contacts my senior year of high school – because obviously having glasses wasn’t cool or pretty, duh. Once I switched to contacts, I never looked back. Glasses became that thing I packed with me on a long trip just in case I somehow lost a lens or ran out of solution.

In my first job out of college, I didn’t bother with getting health insurance. My parents were very generous in letting me stay on their insurance, so I didn’t pay attention to any of the costs associated with getting glasses or contacts. About a year after a started working, my dad got a new job, which was nbd. I was still covered under his medical insurance, but his new vision plan no longer covered me. Still, no biggie. I signed up for my own vision plan through work, which only cost me ~$4 a paycheck. Yay for all the perks that come with adulthood!

Then the time came for me to get a new prescription. I knew I was due for some adjustments; my contacts were doing this thing where lights looked like fireworks at night and my glasses were at least three years old at this point. Prior to this specific appointment, I had only been getting contact prescriptions, since I rarely wore glasses. I looked up the details of my specific coverage and went into MyEyeDoctor armed with what I knew I wanted. I had read online that my vision plan would cover either a glasses prescription or a contact prescription, not both. Fine with me. The day of my appointment, I walked in, stated that I wanted to get a prescription for contacts, and gave the office lady my insurance information. Almost immediately, she said that my insurance carrier typically covers the cost of both the glasses and contacts exam. I asked her to double check and was pretty excited. After all, someone who regularly runs this information would know better than me, right? (Can you tell where this is going?) Anyway, I start my appointment, and the optometrist convinces me to do a blood vessel eye scan since I had never done one before. It cost me an extra $30. I wouldn’t have done it, but she scared me with a story of how they had once discovered that a woman was about to have a stroke and sent her to the hospital just in time. I was 22. I was (and am still) healthy. I didn’t need the scan. The office lady checks back in around this time, saying I’m covered for both exams, which I then get.

This is becoming a bit of a rant. I’m very familiar with getting the lowest possible price for contacts. All of the MyEyeDoctors and VisionWorks that I have been to over the years price match, so it’s just a matter of getting a screenshot of the cheapest possible price online and that’s what you’ll end up paying. For glasses, I had usually taken my prescription to Costco in the past, but wasn’t fond of their limited selection. I was preparing myself to pay a little more for frames that I actually liked. That said, after I had my prescriptions in hand and was getting ready to do some price negotiation on contacts, I was shocked to learn that the total cost of my visit would be $300. That was after the price adjustment for contacts. I had been expecting something like $150, so to having to pay double was extremely painful. As you might have guessed, only one of my exams was covered, and they had also suckered me into the extra eye scan, which was out-of-pocket. I took my prescriptions and contacts and left. The following week, I tried out some frames from Warby Parker with their Home Try-On program. Their glasses cost me $100, which honestly was about the same as what I used to pay for uglier frames at Costco. I’ve even gotten a free adjustment at one of their few brick-and-mortar locations (their frames come with a lifetime guarantee).

That was a year and a half ago. I haven’t gone through all of my contact lenses yet, but in the past two months, I’ve actually started to wear my glasses more frequently on a daily basis. The only exceptions are days when I do physical activity, like dance practice. Contacts aren’t as comfortable for me to wear as they used to be, and I have a perfectly good (and cute) pair of glasses I’m happy walking around in public wearing.

Eventually I want to look into getting LASIK, but for now, I’m really happy with my glasses and how they ended up being a good financial decision for me, especially. It feels good to get this story out of my system. Sometimes there are these instances that really just stick, you know? I’ve spent far more money on other things in my lifetime, but there was something about being fooled into paying more when I had never intended to that I find egregious. Insurance is already a complicated thing to deal with – misdirection just makes it basically impossible to avoid overpaying.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has been bamboozled into paying more than they intended – it’ll definitely make me feel better about not paying attention to the fine print of my insurance policy, that’s for sure.