Key Takeaways

  • Medicare Part B does not pay for routine vision screening, glasses, and contact lenses.

  • In some circumstances, such as macular degeneration and cataracts, Medicare does pay for testing and treatment.

  • Several charitable organizations and professional societies can help older adults obtain free or low cost vision care.

Medicare pays for a wide range of services, including many preventive benefits. However, routine eye care is not among these services. Read more about what Medicare does and does not cover related to vision services and supplies.

What vision care does Medicare cover?

Part B covers:

  • An annual glaucoma test for at-risk individuals. Persons considered at-risk include: those with diabetes, African-Americans age 50+, Hispanics aged65+, and/or those with a family history of glaucoma.
  • An annual exam to test for diabetic retinopathy among diabetics.
  • Certain diagnostic tests and screenings for macular degeneration.
  • Cataract surgery, plus one pair of post-surgery eyeglasses or contact lenses following surgery. Medicare will only pay for contact lenses or eyeglasses from a supplier enrolled in Medicare.

What do I pay for these services?

For each of these covered services, you would pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies.

Does Medicare cover eyeglasses or eye exams?

Original Medicare (Parts A & B) does not cover routine eye exams, or the purchase of eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your plan to see whether it covers these services/supplies.

Where can I get help paying for vision care?

  • EyeCare America®, a service of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provides free eye exams and up to one year of care for low-income individuals who qualify.
  • Local Lions’ Club chapters often have programs to assist those with severe vision impairment. Find your local chapter in your phone book or by visiting the Lions’ Club Directory.
  • New Eyes for the Needy purchases prescription glasses using a voucher program for low-income individuals. Only social service providers, not the individuals themselves, may apply.

Have questions about your current Medicare plan?

Learn more and connect with a licensed Medicare broker that meets NCOA’s Standards of Excellence. Our broker options are committed to serving your Medicare selection needs and priorities, including helping you understand all of your options, at no cost to you.