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Does vision insurance cover contacts?

Contacts can be expensive but visions insurance can help you cover some of the costs.

11 minute read

Contact lenses have many benefits over glasses, they sit directly on your eye so peripheral vision is unobstructed, you can participate in sports and outdoor activities without fear of eyeglasses falling off or getting in the way, they don’t fog up and they don’t hide part of your face. Without vision insurance, contacts can be expensive, however vision insurance may be able to help you cover some of the costs.

Will vision insurance cover contacts?

Most vision insurance plans pay at least a portion of the cost of contacts or glasses, as well as an annual eye exam. Although you may have to pay a portion of the cost of an eye exam if you want contact lenses because there may be extra tests that your eye doctor must do in order to determine if you can wear contact lenses as well as glasses. 

Will vision insurance cover glasses and contacts?

If you can wear contacts and you like wearing contacts daily, you may still need to have a pair of glasses that you can wear when you’re not wearing your contacts or if they ever bother your eyes. Most people who wear contacts have a spare pair of glasses so that if something happens to their contacts or if they develop an eye infection, they can wear glasses for a few days. It’s possible that your vision insurance will pay for both glasses and contacts but you will need to check your vision insurance policy. If you’re shopping for vision insurance and you know that you want contacts, check the policy coverage before you buy an insurance plan to be sure that the vision insurance will pay for contacts. 

How Guardian Direct® Focused Vision plans cover contacts

Guardian Direct Focused Vision Gold and Silver plans, powered by VSP, allow you to choose a new pair of glasses or contacts every year. Contact lenses and exams don’t require a co-pay and come with a $225 contacts allowance for Gold plan members and a $160 contacts allowance for Silver plan members. A Focused Vision Plan starts at just $14/month or less in most states.

Can I wear contacts?

If you want contacts you can probably wear them. It’s unusual for someone that wants contacts to be unable to wear them instead of glasses. However, there are situations where an eye doctor may recommend that you wear glasses instead of switching contacts like:

  • If you are prone to eye infections 
  • If you work outside and are exposed to lots of smoke, dust, sand, or other debris
  • If you are prone to strong allergic reactions
  • If you suffer from chronic dry eye or take medication that can cause dry eye

If you meet any of these criteria you should talk with your eye doctor about contacts to figure out if there are lenses that are right for you. 

Types of contacts

Once you’re sure that you can wear contacts you will need to talk with your eye doctor about what type of contacts are right for your eyes, your budget, and your lifestyle. The primary types of contacts that you’ll be choosing from are:

Soft contact lenses

Soft contacts are the lenses that most people think of when they think about contacts. They are small and thin lenses made of plastic that slip over your eye. Soft contacts allow more oxygen to reach your eye and are considered to be more comfortable than gas permeable contacts. Soft contacts need to be taken out and cleaned at least once a day. People who haven’t worn contacts before usually start with soft contacts because they are easier to adjust and clean than gas permeable contacts. 

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses

Rigid gas permeable lenses may make your vision crisper, but they definitely take some getting used to. They’re fairly easy to apply to your eye but it can be difficult to adjust them if they aren’t lined up right when you put them in. These lenses tear less often than soft contacts and they are easier to clean and store but many people who wear them find that it takes a week or more to get used to and during that time it’s normal to have some blurriness of vision and discomfort. Gas permeable contacts also tend to be less expensive because you can wear the same pair for a long time if they are properly cleaned and stored. Soft contacts are disposable and over time can get quite expensive if you are buying multiple boxes. 

Extended wear contact lenses

Extended wear contact lenses are soft contacts that are designed to be worn 24/7, even overnight. These contact lenses can be worn for a period ranging from seven days to 30 days depending on the type of contact and your prescription. Even though these contacts are approved for overnight wear it is important to remove them and clean them at least once a day. And when you reach the end of the wear period you must give your eyes a break for at least 24 hours before wearing contacts again. Extended wear contacts are a good option for parents, people who work multiple jobs, or anyone that has a tendency to forget that they are wearing contacts and fall asleep with their contacts in. 

Disposable (replacement schedule) contact lenses

Disposable contact lenses are made to be worn once and thrown away. These soft contacts are good for people who have a tendency to get eye infections because they don’t need to be cleaned and reinserted in your eyes. When you take them out at the end of the day you throw them away and start a new pair in the morning. 

Taking care of your contacts

Taking care of your contact lenses isn’t just about making sure that they last as long as possible, it’s also about making sure that your eyes are safe, the lenses are clean, and you can comfortably and safely wear them for a long time. To take care of your contacts you should always:

  • Wash your hands before handling your contacts, removing them from your eyes, or putting them in your eyes.
  • Spread a lint free cloth or towel on the counter or sink when you’re getting ready to clean your contacts or put them in. It will protect the contacts and make it easier for you to see them.
  • Use an eye doctor approved solution to clean your contacts. When you remove your contacts put them in a contact lens case filled with contact lens cleaning solution. The solution will clean and sanitize the contacts and keep them moist so that they don’t dry out.
  • Clean your contact lens case each day with a little of your contact lens cleaning solution. Keeping your lens case as clean as your lenses will help you avoid an eye infection. 

How is a contact lens exam different than a regular eye exam?

When you have a comprehensive eye exam there are certain standard tests that are done to gauge the health of your vision. But, when you go in for a contact lens exam, the eye doctor will have to do other tests that are specifically related to whether or not you can wear contact lenses. Not everyone can comfortably wear contact lenses and some people with certain kinds of vision problems aren’t good candidates for contact lenses.

How often do you need an eye exam?

You may not need to have an eye exam every year. Most optometrists recommend that adults between the ages of 18 to 60 have a comprehensive eye exam every two years as long as they don’t experience any changes in their vision. But, if you have a history of vision trouble or if you are in a high risk category for potential vision problems then it’s recommended that you get a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist, not an optometrist, every year. Who is considered eye risk? You may be considered high risk for vision changes if you:

  • Work on a computer all day every day
  • Experience any changes in your vision
  • Have had an eye injury that impacted your vision
  • Have diabetes, high blood pressure, or another medical condition that can cause changes in your vision
  • Have had eye surgery

Purchasing contact lenses

If you decide to purchase contact lenses, vision insurance can help you cover the costs so you can have a less obtrusive way to maintain your vision without breaking your budget. 


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This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.

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Sources:

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation. Vision Insurance is provided by VSP and billing and premium collection services for such vision insurance are conducted by DTC GLIC, LLC (d/b/a DTC GLIC Insurance Sales, LLC in California).  DTC GLIC, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America ("Guardian"). Guardian and DTC GLIC, LLC are not affiliated with VSP and Guardian and DTC GLIC, LLC do not assume any responsibility or liability for non-Guardian products or services, including those offered by VSP. Guardian Direct plans are underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America or its subsidiaries, New York, NY. Products are not available in all states. Policy limitations and exclusions apply. In the event of a conflict between this document and the language stated in your Guardian insurance policy, the language of the policy shall control. GUARDIAN® is a registered service mark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® ©Copyright 2019 The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, N.Y.

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.
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