The Cost of Getting My Eyes Checked Without Insurance

Even though I’m sure my prescription hasn’t changed.

Photo: elston

As of late, I have been consumed with the idea of new glasses. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was a kid and it is only recently that I discovered that buying glasses is a really fun way to spend money — buying clothes, but for my face! No one really needs new glasses unless the glasses they currently own are broken. My glasses are just fine. They spend a lot of time being slowly crushed to death under my slumbering form, as I apparently remove them in the middle of the night when I fall asleep reading and place them directly under my body for safekeeping.

This habit means that they’re a little worse for wear and so I would like new ones. Also, the idea of having glasses that actually stay on my face is appealing to me. Recently glasses manufacturers have started making glasses for people with a “low nose bridge.” Perhaps the bridge of my nose is low, or maybe my cheeks are very big or I honestly couldn’t tell you what the deal is, but glasses refuse to stay on my face and slide down my nose and it drives me bonkers. I was convinced it was a hoax, some sort of marketing trick that I was eager to fall for, but I tried on a pair of glasses with a low nose bridge, they cost $95 (thanks for looking out for us, Warby Parker), and when I marched up to the counter to buy them, I was informed that my prescription was expired.

I don’t have vision insurance, which is fine for the most part. My semi-annual eye exam is nothing more than a confirmation that yes, I still need glasses. With insurance, the process is seamless, easy and nearly free. Without insurance, it’s a little bit different.

$132 for an eye exam that also includes a contact lens exam, scheduled on ZocDoc and confirmed by an employee. “It says here your insurance ran out on June 30, 2016,” she said gently on the phone. “Did you…know that?”

Yes, I knew that. Yes, I should’ve scheduled an eye appointment immediately after I lost my job, as well as a doctor’s appointment, a visit to the gynecologist, the dentist and maybe a chiropractor. Yes, I understand that this was not the smartest decision I could’ve made, but here we are.

My eye doctor is astonishingly efficient, a fact that I always forget and feel slightly concerned about after an eye exam (without dilation) lasts for about 10 minutes, max.

A possible $200 for contact lenses: There is a contact lens startup called Hubble that purports to disrupt contacts, offering daily contacts for $30 a month. $200 buys me a year’s supply of monthly contacts, which I remember to change monthly most of the time. Hubble costs more money, so we’ll see. Also, it feels weird to get my contacts from a place that doesn’t seem to be vetted by an eye doctor. (Correction: I have just learned that Hubble does indeed check with your eye doctor about your prescription, so joke’s on me.)

$95 for those glasses: I promise that I will take them off before I go to bed.

Total: $227, with a possible $200 extra if I decide to live my life unencumbered by spectacles.

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