Vision Wise Resources

Most vision locations offer fee for service eye exams. Eye exams and glasses are generally not covered under insurance, unless you have signed up for a plan that has vision benefits or the vision problems are due to the development of cataracts and you are 65 or older.

For adults aged 65 years and older, Medicare has simple requirements for cataract surgery: A doctor must deem cataract surgery as medically necessary, and the treating physician has to accept a Medicare plan as payment. Medicare covers both traditional and laser cataract surgeries. These policies also include a traditional intraocular lens implant. However, they would not cover the cost of a newer multifocal lens.

Medicare Part B covers medically necessary procedures, including cataract surgery. It also covers certain postsurgical costs. Usually, Medicare does not cover prescription eyeglasses. The exception is one pair of glasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery.

Here are some tips about vision resources:

I see fine but want my vision tested
Glasses can help people see better, but you might not realize you need them or that your vision has changed. To find a local eye doctor ask friends who they are using and also look for a local eye doctor in the shopping center that you frequent most. Eye doctors often advertise in local newspapers. After you locate a vision center, visit their website and check out their reviews. Next step is to call and inquire about the cost of the eye exam and the lowest prices on eye glasses and other vision products you are interested in.

My vision is becoming an issue
If your vision is becoming an issue be sure to mention this when you are interviewing potential eye doctors. There are two main types of eye doctors: optometrists and ophthalmologists

  • Optometrist (OD) – Optometrists take care of primary health care for the eye through vision care and eye care exams. After college, they spend 4 years in a professional program and they receive a doctor of optometry degree. Optometrists perform eye exams, vision tests and treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The Optometrist will prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, along with recommend low-vision aids and vision therapy. The eye exam by an Optometrist often detects diseases, injuries, and disorders related to the eyes, thus having regular eye exams is very important to overall health and well-being.
  • Ophthalmologist – An Ophthalmologist offers medical and surgical eye care. They go to medical school and after that have a 1-year internship and a residency of 3 years, along with 1 to 2 years fellowship. They offer vision services, such as eye exams but also medical and surgical eye care. An Ophthalmologist treats conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, iritis, surgical eye care for trauma, and other vision problems.

Paying for Glasses
Glasses can be expensive and many Americans do not have vision coverage. If you cannot afford your glasses explore these options:

  • Some retail vision stores offer low interest payment plans.
  • Also be sure that you are not buying unnecessary add-on’s such as anti-reflective coating to reduce glare or light-adjusting lenses. Note that cheaper lenses will scratch more easily.
  • You also have the option to take your prescription to an online vision supplier and do a price comparison. You may be able to go back to the local retailer and see if they will price match.

Insurance
There are some Medicare insurance programs that have hearing and vision benefits. During Medicare open enrollment inquire about new Medicare plans that include some hearing and vision benefits.

I cannot afford my glasses
If you cannot afford your glasses there are a few options to try. Note that these program are income qualifying.

  • Jefferson County Mental Health has a list of resources to help with the purchase of glasses and eye exams – LEARN MORE
  • Colorado Gerontological Society has vision grants but their is a wait list – LEARN MORE

Additional resources

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and 2-1-1 and they may know of additional resources on this topic.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
An Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a public nonprofit agency designated by a state to address the needs and concerns of all older persons at the regional and local levels. AAAs are primarily responsible for a geographic area, also known as a planning and service area (PSA), that is either a city, a single county, or a multi-county district. AAAs coordinate and offer services that help older adults remain in their homes, if that is their preference, aided by services such as home-delivered meals, homemaker assistance, and whatever else it may take to make independent living a viable option.
Find your local AAA by visiting their website or calling 1-800-677-1116.
Website: https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx

2-1-1 Colorado
2-1-1 is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people to vital resources across the state. No matter where you live in Colorado, you can find information about resources in your local community. Dial 2-1-1 from your phone or visit their website.
Website: https://www.211colorado.org/

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