Q & A: April/May 2021

Q & A: April/May 2021

Does Medicare Cover Eyeglasses?

Q: Does Medicare provide coverage for eye care services or eyeglasses?   

A: Medicare pays for a wide range of services including many preventive benefits, but routine eye care is not one of them.  Medicare-eligible adults with diabetes can, however, get a dilated eye exam to check for diabetic eye disease.  The patient’s primary care doctor is responsible for determining how often this exam is needed.  Medicare also covers an annual eye exam to check for glaucoma if the patient is diabetic or there is a family history of glaucoma.

Medicare does not usually cover eyeglasses or contact lenses.  However, Medicare Part B helps pay for corrective lenses when the patient has cataract surgery to implant an intraocular lens.  Corrective lenses include one pair of eyeglasses with standard frames or one set of contact lenses.

If you are over the age of 65 and need help paying for eye care services, you might be eligible for help from EyeCare America. This organization is one of the nation’s leading public service programs to provide eye care through a group of more than 5,500 volunteer ophthalmologists.  According to their website, ninety percent of the care provided is at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.

The group offers a Seniors Program that connects eligible seniors 65 and older with local volunteer ophthalmologists who provide a medical eye exam (often at no out-of-pocket cost), and up to one year of follow-up care for any conditions diagnosed during the initial exam.

Eyeglasses, however, are not covered.  If you are having difficulty affording a pair of glasses from brick and mortar stores, you may want to try shopping online.  Zenni optical.com has eyeglasses starting as low as $6.95 for basic frames.  Costco the wholesale club has high ratings for their optical section.  According to Consumer Reports, the median price for a complete pair of eyeglasses, frames and lenses at Costco Optical is $184, the cost of membership not included.