Does Medicare Cover Glasses?
Original Medicare typically does not cover eyeglasses or contact lenses. It may cover some costs for eyeglasses following cataract surgery to implant an intraocular lens. However, many Medicare Advantage plans offer vision coverage.
Medicare Coverage of Eyeglasses
In most cases, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover eyeglasses or contact lenses.
However, there are a few specific exceptions.
If you have cataract surgery to implant an intraocular lens, Medicare Part B will pay some costs for corrective lenses.
This can include one pair of eyeglasses with standard frames or one set of contact lenses.
In this situation, Medicare will pay 80 percent of approved costs for eyeglasses or contact lenses after each cataract surgery with an intraocular lens. The $148 Part B deductible also applies.
If you have cataract surgery on one eye, Medicare will help cover one pair of glasses. You can get another pair of glasses later if you have cataract surgery that implants an intraocular lens on the other eye.
You’ll be responsible for any additional costs for upgraded frames. You must purchase the glasses from a Medicare-enrolled supplier.
Medicare will not pay for a replacement pair if you lose or break these glasses.
Other Vision Benefits with Original Medicare
Original Medicare provides other limited vision coverage. But it does not cover routine eye exams.
- Diabetes Eye Exams
- If you have diabetes, Medicare Part B covers a yearly eye exam for diabetic retinopathy. You will pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost for the doctor's services. The Part B deductible also applies.
- Glaucoma Test
- Medicare Part B will cover a yearly test for glaucoma if you are at high risk for the disease. You’re considered high risk if one of the following applies: You have diabetes, you have a family history of glaucoma, you’re African American and over age 50 or you’re Hispanic and over age 65. You’ll pay 20 percent of the approved amount for this test and the Part B deductible applies.
- Macular Degeneration Tests and Treatment
- Medicare may cover certain diagnostic tests and treatment if you have age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. Ophthalmology services include Eylea and Lucentis — two drugs injected into the eye to help slow vision loss caused by AMD. Medicare will pay for an intravitreal injection — which is considered a minor surgery — as part of a surgical package that also includes preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative services performed by a doctor, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You will owe 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost for doctor services along with any drug used to treat AMD. You may also owe a copayment if the service is performed in a hospital outpatient setting.
- Artificial Eyes
- Medicare Part B covers 80 percent of approved costs for artificial eyes when your doctor orders them. The Part B deductible also applies. Medicare usually covers artificial eye replacement every five years along with polishing and resurfacing.
Medicare Advantage and Eyeglasses
Medicare Advantage, or Part C, plans serve as an all-in-one alternative to Original Medicare. They are offered by private insurance companies that contract with the federal government.
Many Medicare Advantage plans include additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare, including dental, hearing and vision.
In 2019, about 79 percent of Medicare Advantage users were enrolled in plans that offered vision or eyeglass coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Out-of-pocket costs still apply with Medicare Advantage plans. This can include copayments and deductibles. Plans with enhanced benefits — such as vision — usually feature higher monthly premiums, too.
Keep in mind that not all Medicare Advantage plans are created equal. Benefits and coverage can vary significantly from plan to plan, so make sure to review plan details before signing up.
It’s also important to use in-network providers. Your Medicare Advantage plan might have preferred suppliers for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Selecting from an approved list will help you save more money.
Visit the Medicare Plan Finder to search Medicare Advantage plans. After entering your zip code, you can filter results to only show plans that include vision coverage.
Additional Resources for Eyeglasses and Exams
- EyeCare America
- EyeCare America is a public service program by the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It offers free comprehensive eye exams — and up to one year of care — to those who qualify. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident age 65 or older, have not visited an ophthalmologist in the last three years or more and do not belong to an HMO or have veterans' vision care. This program does not cover the cost of eyeglasses.
- Lions Club International
- The Lions Club provides financial assistance and free eyeglasses for those who qualify through its local clubs. You can find a Lions Club near you by using the club locator tool on the organization's website.
- AARP Membership Discount
- AARP members can receive a $55 eye exam and 30 percent off a complete pair of eyeglasses from participating LensCrafters stores. To receive the discount, present your AARP membership card at checkout. To learn more, visit AARP’s website.
10 Cited Research Articles
- Freed, M., Damico, A. and Neuman, T. (2020, April 22). A Dozen Facts About Medicare Advantage in 2020. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/a-dozen-facts-about-medicare-advantage-in-2020/
- AARP. (2020). Does Medicare Cover Vision? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-qa-tool/does-medicare-cover-vision-care/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Review of Medicare Part B Claims for Intravitreal Injections of Eylea and Lucentis. Retrieved from https://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/workplan/summary/wp-summary-0000383.asp
- Heiting, G. (2019, April). Where to get a free eye exam and free eyeglasses. Retrieved from https://www.allaboutvision.com/eye-exam/free-exam.htm
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2018, April). Medicare Vision Services Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/outreach-and-education/medicare-learning-network-mln/mlnproducts/downloads/visionservices_factsheet_icn907165.pdf
- Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Artificial eyes and limbs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/artificial-eyes-limbs
- Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Eye exams for diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/eye-exams-for-diabetes
- Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Eye exams (routine). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/eye-exams-routine
- Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Eyeglasses and contact lenses. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/eyeglasses-contact-lenses
- Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Glaucoma tests. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/glaucoma-tests