Not all eye doctors are created equal!
An optometrist, also commonly referred to as an “eye doctor”, is not a physician, but rather a trained professional licensed to examine patients for visual defects, and to prescribe glasses and contact lenses. The glasses themselves, are made by an optician. An optometrist usually offers a lower examination fee that an ophthalmologist. If you’re healthy, have no insurance, and only need a pair of glasses, see your local optometrist (or the one employed at your local superstore).
However, if you have a medical problem, it may cost you less to see an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists are physicians trained in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye, including cataracts, glaucoma, or problems resulting from diabetes or high blood pressure. Ophthalmologists prescribe eye medications and perform eye surgery, but often prescribe eyeglasses or contacts as well. Ophthalmologists are covered under your insurance (including Medicare) the same as any other specialist, such as a cardiologist. (Traditional Medicare does not cover optometrists). Any person who has high blood pressure or diabetes has a valid reason to see an ophthalmologist.
Physicians and optometrists both refer to ophthalmologists for a variety for conditions including certain infections, injuries to the eye, uncorrectable visual problems, lazy eye, glaucoma, cataracts, persistent styes, macular degeneration, diabetic or hypertensive retinopathy, iritis, and droopy eyelids.
Even if you have no disease of the eye other than poor vision, your insurance may cover a visit to a medical eye doctor. Again, check your policy first for coverage, and your list of covered physicians (ophthalmologists), optometrists and opticians. Hopefully this information will help you see your way to savings.
CRM Tip: Most student plans do not cover anything but injury or disease of the eye, so you may need to purchase a separate “Vision Insurance Plan” for help with paying for your glasses or contacts. These are very inexpensive and can cost as little as $15 for a discount vision plan through Co-Health USA. Visit the products page on our website to check it out!