The cost of an eye exam depends on your provider, the complexity of tests, where you live, whether you need contact lens related services, and more. As a result, pricing can range from anywhere between $75 to $250 and up. In Canada, eye exams are typically not covered by the public healthcare system. There are exceptions for children, seniors, and those requiring an eye exam and subsequent follow ups due to a medical necessity.
What does a comprehensive eye exam include?
- An evaluation of your current vision and general optical health
- A look at the history of you and your family's optical health
- A test for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
- A test to determine your eye coordination
- A test for glaucoma / eye pressure test
- Additional examination for other eye problems such as cataracts or macular degeneration
- A test to see if you require progressive lenses
- A test of your distance and near vision through an eye chart
Those who are interested in contact lens may undergo additional testing.
Who performs an eye exam?
Eye exams are performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The main difference is that ophthalmologists have completed medical school and have additional post-grad training in order to perform surgical eye care. Optometrists are your typical eye exam practitioners and are not typically involved in surgery of any kind. They usually attend 4+ years of optometry school after college to attain a Doctor of Optometry degree.
When should I have my eyes examined?
For most adults, a routine checkups is advised every 1 to 2 years, or as recommended by your optometrist. This is highly individual dependent and whether your eyes are at risk.
Coverage in British Columbia
Those requiring an eye exam due to medical necessity are covered by the Medical Services Plan (MSP). The case of a medical necessity can be a result of many different conditions such as trauma or injury, ocular disease, or diseases associated with significant ocular risk such as diabetes. Patients younger than 19 or older than 65 are also eligible.
Those that qualify for the MSP may still face other extra charges ("Copay") typically below $100.
Fortunately, the people who qualify under MSP for an eye exam may also qualify for coverage on new eyeglasses.
Coverage in Ontario
OHIP covers the cost of 1 major eye exam every 12 months if you are younger than 19 or older than 65. Similar to BC, if you require an eye exam due a medical necessity, you may be eligible for coverage from OHIP even if you are not within the previous age ranges. The coverage includes any follow up appointments as a result of a diagnosed condition. You may also receive coverage if you receive a referral or note from a qualified medical professional (doctor).
Coverage in Alberta
Between July 1 and June 30 (next year), children up to 19 years of age and seniors aged 65 and up are eligible for one complete exam, partial exam, and single diagnostic procedure. All ages are covered for an eye exam required as a result of a medical condition. For full details, visit the Nova Scotia government website
Coverage in Saskatchewan
- Children (under the age of 18) are covered for one eye exam, repeat exam and partial exam per year.
- For those who are 18 and older, coverage is provided for an initial assessment and follow-up of eye health emergencies (such as an injury).
- Visit the Saskatchewan government website to learn about additional programs.
Coverage in New Brunswick
There is only an option available to children under 19 of low income families. You can read more about the program from the New Brunswick government website.
Coverage in Manitoba
Those younger than 19 or over the age of 65 are qualified for coverage once every two years. All ages are covered for an eye exam required as a result of a medical condition. For full details, visit the Manitoba government website.
Coverage in Nova Scotia
Those younger than 10 or older than the age of 65 are eligible for a complete eye exam every 2 years. All ages are covered for an eye exam required as a result of a medical condition. For full details, visit the Nova Scotia government website.
Coverage in Prince Edward Island
No coverage options.
Coverage in Newfoundland and Labrador
No coverage options.
Coverage as a small business owner
Eye exams are an eligible expense under a Health Spending Account (HSA). The entire cost of the eye exam, as well as prescription glasses / sunglasses can be deducted as a pre-tax expense. A Health Spending Account is a cost-effective plan specifically built for small business owners to reduce their medical expenses. It turns 100% of after-tax personal medical expenses into before-tax business expenses.
A Health Spending Account is not just limited to eye exams. There are many eligible medical expenses:
- prescription glasses
- contact lenses
- massage therapy
- physio therapy
- prescription drugs.
- See the full list of eligible Health Spending Account expenses.