The Truth About Your Eye Exam Costs

The Truth About Your Eye Exam Costs

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How much does an eye exam cost? $100? $150? $200?

For a number of reasons, it can be pretty difficult to agree on a single figure.

Different optometrists charge different amounts depending on how they rate their own service.

Costs can go up and down depending on whether or not you wish to undergo more comprehensive tests for procedures.

And there could be hidden charges included in your service for minor procedures that you didn’t know you needed.

In truth, the cost of an eye exam can vary from anywhere around the $75 mark to more than $250.

The comprehensiveness of the test, the extent of expert attention that your eyes need, and the current market rate for optometric services all play a significant role in determining what you’re likely to pay.

MSP Coverage in BC

In British Columbia, routine eye exams are not covered by your MSP unless they are medically necessary (A modest exception to this rule is made for people under the age of 19 and over the age of 65, both of whom are entitled to an MSP funded or subsidized doctor’s eye examination).

However, the category of ‘medically necessary’ is quite broad.

It covers “ocular disease, trauma or injury; systemic diseases associated with significant ocular risk (e.g. diabetes); and medications associated with significant ocular risk.”

Even if you qualify for an  eye examination as an insured benefit through MSP, pretty much every Optometrist will still levy an extraneous surcharge (often referred to as “Copay”) usually ranging from $35 to $75 or more – Image Optometry is the only Optometry chain that does NOT charge a Copay fee.

In addition to covering the costs of routine eye exams up to $48.90, the BC provincial government will also cover new eyeglasses in conditions of hardship, (up to the ministry’s maximum rate; new lenses), if your eye doctor confirms a change in your prescription; necessary repairs to lenses or frames; and a case for new glasses or lenses.

So, in theory, any real major problems that you might be experiencing with your eyes should fall under the remittance from of your public or private health insurance.


The sorts of procedures conducted during a basic eye exam are likely to include:

– An assessment of the quality of your vision with an eye chart

– A review of your personal and family history and any history of eye-related diseases

– An Evaluation for conditions such as nearsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia

– An eye pressure test and examination of the optic nerve to identify signs of glaucoma

– An assessment of the interior of your eyes to identify signs of any other eye problems, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration

Extra Charges

But the rules governing eye exam costs can be confusing, and it’s not uncommon for patients to find themselves hit by unexpected charges when they visit their eye care provider.

In BC, in defiance of provincial regulations, many optometrists have been known to impose sizeable extra charges on their patients’ bills for a minor procedure called the pupil-distance measurement, which assesses the extent of pupil distance so that patients’ eyes line-up properly with the lenses in their glasses.

In some cases, patients were charged an additional $50 for this simple test, which should have been provided as part of the general service.

In a series of separate incidents, ophthalmologists – experts in eye surgery – in BC imposed hefty charges on patients who needed lenses and medical care related to cataract surgery, despite the the ministry of health insisting that not payments should be made between patient and doctors or medical clinics for standard, mono-focal, foldable lenses implanted during cataract surgery.

Shop Around

One way to avoid unreliable or overly-expensive eye exam costs is to shop around for the best provider.

Read the small print on the websites, scour the customer review pages in order to get a sense of how other people feel about their providers, and talk to friends and family about affordable and accessible eye care.

This is the only way to ensure that you’re receiving the strongest service at the lowest cost possible.

Whatever The Costs, Get An Eye Exam

It can be very frustrating shelling-out for an eye exam.

They’re necessary but not necessarily cheap.

But here’s the thing: they do have to happen.

Eye exams are essential to your overall health and, ultimately, as part of a regime of early disease detection and treatment, they could end-up saving you much more money in the long term.

Experts recommend a steady program of check-ups for people of all ages, but the visits should grow more frequent with the two extremes of age.

When you’re young and your body is still growing, your eyes can change quite rapidly – that’s why MSP covers eye exams every six months for those aged 16 and younger.

After about 25 you should have your eyes tested every few years until you are 40, and then at least every two years after that.

A really thorough, dilated eye exam conducted either by an optometrist or any other eye doctor is vital to identifying and treating diseases – such as glaucoma, amblyopia, and diabetic retinopathy – in their initial stages, when it’s still possible to treat the problem before it causes lasting damage to your sight.

If you do the appropriate amount of research, you’ll be able to find an eye exam service that suits both your eye health needs and your financial conditions.

Image Optometry is offering cheap eye exams that patient’s all agree are the most comprehensive eye tests in various locations including throughout the lower mainland and now Vancouver Island too (Nanaimo and Victoria).   We’re in a mall near you!

So, don’t delay, because the benefits of good eye health will last a lifetime.

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