In the United States, the cost of an eye exam ranges from $50 to $100 or more, and costs depend on where the exam is given and the type of tests involved. A basic eye examination involves providing personal history related to eye problems, reading an eye chart and being tested for nearsightedness and farsightedness. Tests for serious vision problems, such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, increase exam costs.
Eye exams are performed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. Optometrists perform eye exams and prescribe glasses or contacts. An ophthalmologist is a trained medical doctor who is able to examine patients for eye diseases and perform surgical procedures.
It is generally cheaper to see an optometrist for routine eye exams than an ophthalmologist, who is an eye specialist. A basic eye exam might also include testing for astigmatism and a condition called presbyopia, conditions that often determine what type of lenses a patient is prescribed. Those interested in wearing contact lenses undergo a contact lens exam, which includes its own procedures.
Some patients receive an eye pressure test, which involves examining the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma. An ophthalmologist who suspects a serious eye problem examines the interior of the eye to discover possible causes.
Anyone with a family history of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or an eye infection should make an appointment for an eye exam.