Evaluating The Cost of Eye Exams

The eyes are one of the most essential parts of your body. They help you see the beauty in the world, from twilight glistening on water to a dragonfly’s wings thrumming on their way to adventure.

However, a comprehensive eye exam is costly. And it can be even more expensive without vision insurance.


Most eye care professionals have various equipment that can be used for multiple tests. Some of this equipment is used in the exam room to test visual acuity and determine an eyeglass prescription, while others are used to detect diseases or conditions like glaucoma. These instruments help to improve diagnostic capabilities, but they can also increase the overall cost of an exam.

An autorefractor is one of the most common pieces of equipment that affects the price of an eye exam. This machine allows a patient to sit and place their chin on the rest while looking into the machine at a picture. The machine then moves the image in and out of focus, taking readings and averaging them to form a baseline prescription.

Another piece of eye care equipment is a slit lamp, which can be used to see the back of a patient’s eye. This powerful diagnostic tool can reveal early signs of retinal disease, such as macular degeneration and diabetes.


Patient Care

Eye health is often one of the last things people think about unless they begin to squint or have trouble seeing. However, regular eye exams can help ensure that any vision changes are caught early on and addressed so they do not worsen or cause long-term damage.

Ever wondered, “how much is an eye exam“? Well, it depends! Location, clinic type, and insurance all play a role. Expect prices to vary, and remember these figures don’t include extra tests your doctor might suggest. We’ll guide you through the factors influencing cost and point you toward resources for specific estimates.

For instance, a simple test involving moving a flashlight back and forth between your eyes may cost you $35-$40. This helps to assess whether or not your pupils constrict in response to direct light, a key indication of ocular health. It also gives the doctor a digital record of your retinal health, which can help diagnose conditions such as glaucoma.

Quality Assurance

Many people are squeamish about letting someone near their eyes, and rightfully so. However, your eye doctor is qualified and trained to inspect your eyes and can provide important information about your health.

In addition to assessing vision, a comprehensive eye exam can detect signs of unrelated medical conditions. For example, your ophthalmologist or optometrist may find the early signs of diabetes that can lead to glaucoma or signs of autoimmune disorders like lupus.


As part of a complete exam, your doctor will use a variety of tools to test the health of your eyes, such as an autorefractor to automatically estimate your prescription and a slit lamp examination that provides a detailed look at the internal structures of your eye. They’ll also likely do a visual field test to measure your peripheral vision and an ocular motility test to check for any problems with your eye movements. Some tests may require you to cover one eye, such as a swinging flashlight test, or move your eyes quickly between two targets positioned at varying distances (such as the “saccades” test). These tests help your doctor determine whether your pupils constrict together when required or if they contract separately, which could indicate weakness in the muscles that control your eye movement.


Those who need vision insurance can be out of luck regarding affordable eye care. Annual eye exams are not just about safeguarding one’s vision; they can uncover underlying health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Without insurance, on average, a comprehensive eye exam costs $90+. The cost will likely increase if additional tests are needed. This may include a refraction eye exam to determine your prescription and dilation of the eyes to reveal problems that are not visible with regular light.

When you have insurance, it can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses significantly. If you have vision coverage, it will typically cover a copay on the average of $10-$40 for a comprehensive eye exam. Some insurances even cover the entire exam and a pair of glasses! The key is to check with your provider beforehand and familiarize yourself with your policy.