Posted March 15, 2012
Many Americans rate their sight as the most important of their five senses. But to have healthy eyes and vision throughout your life, you should participate regularly in a comprehensive eye exam. Fortunately, vision insurance is available to help make routine eye exams and prescription correction devices, such as glasses or contacts, more affordable.
Vision coverage usually is available as a benefits package or a discount plan. If you’re unsure of the difference, review these descriptions:
- Benefits package – There is a monthly premium; provides benefits toward an annual eye exam and materials to correct vision; there is usually a copayment or deductible required at the time of service, with insurance paying all or most of the balance; generally includes a vision network of optometrists and general ophthalmologists who offer services and materials at reduced rates; some plans include access to laser vision correction, such as LASIK
- Discount plan – There may be little or no monthly premium, if it is a non-insurance discount plan; individuals pay for services, such as a eye exam, and materials up front based on a list of applicable discounts; may or may not include a vision network option
If you are wondering which plan is best for you and your eligible dependent family members, review these tips for evaluating plan options:
- Calculate the amount of money spent in the past two years; add in a projected amount for future care based on the recommended frequency for eye exams (see chart below)
- Estimate the average cost for an eye exam and vision correction by contacting an eye care office for pricing information or review past expenses
- Identify the discounted amount you would pay for these same services with a vision benefits package or discount plan
- Compare the amounts calculated in line numbers 1, 2 and 3; determine which option is most cost efficient
- Ask family and friends for preferences on vision plans and insurance carriers
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following guidelines for scheduling a comprehensive eye exam.
- First exam at 6 months of age, another at age 3 and again when starting grade school
- Children without vision concerns should have eye exams every two years until age 18
- Those with vision risk factors may need an exam before 6 months of age, with more frequent appointments as recommended by their eye doctor
- Under age 40, every 5 to 10 years
- 40 to 54 years of age, every 2 to 4 years
- 55 to 64 years of age, every 1 to 3 years
- 65 years of age or older, every 1 to 2 years
As your eyes age, follow a doctor’s recommendations for maintaining good vision.