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Walmart eye doctors

A Walmart eye doctor giving a patient prescription contact lenses

A Walmart eye doctor may offer more affordable eye exams, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be shortchanged in the optometry department.

Optometrists, no matter where they work, are all doctors licensed to treat vision problems and diagnose eye conditions. The official name for an optometrist is doctor of optometry, or OD for short.

A Walmart optometrist is often — but not always — independent. An independent doctor of optometry works with Walmart, but not for Walmart, meaning they largely set their own prices, instead of Walmart setting a chain-wide rate.

In Walmart’s case, independent optometrists are always located on-site, either inside the vision center or in a small office outside of the store’s entrance or exit.

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How an eye doctor at Walmart compares to other eye doctors

An optometrist at Walmart is fully trained and licensed to practice as a doctor of optometry. Like all optometrists, they are very capable of helping you see clearly and examining your eye health.

The difference is that Walmart’s eye doctors excel in the diagnosis and treatment of day-to-day vision problems, as opposed to more serious or complex eye conditions. The same is true for most optometrists that practice in a store setting such as Walmart, Target or Costco.

This may be something to consider, depending on your personal situation.

Eye doctors in a private setting or group practice tend to be better equipped for the diagnosis and management of many eye-related conditions than in-store optometrists. When they work in a group setting, they may also have access to other eye doctors for a second opinion, if needed.

If you have specific health concerns about your eyes, you might want to speak with an optometrist or ophthalmologist (medical eye doctor) at a private practice.

Retail optometrists are well-trained in spotting any signs of disease, but they will probably refer you to another practice if they notice a problem and think it needs closer examination.

Which tests will a Walmart optometrist perform?

Walmart eye doctors specialize in comprehensive eye exams — a routine checkup of your eyesight and overall eye health. An optometrist at Walmart is licensed to provide the same comprehensive eye exam as any other optometrist.

A store-based eye doctor can be a good option if the primary reason for your visit is one of the four main types of refractive error — nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. All cause varying levels of blurry vision at different distances.

A Walmart optometrist will perform many routine eye exams during the average work day. These painless exams often include the following:

  • Visual acuity (sharpness) test

  • Diagnosis of mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia

  • Examination of the inside of your eye

  • Glaucoma test (also called the “puff-of-air” test)

  • Peripheral vision test

  • Eye movement test

  • Color blindness test

After your exam, the eye doctor will give you your personal vision prescription. You can then use it to buy prescription glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses anywhere you’d like.

Testing can vary slightly, based on your personal needs and the equipment available to each optometrist.

For example, some doctors will not be able to perform more in-depth tests like pupil dilation or retinal imaging. But many do offer these services, so be sure to check with your Walmart location if you think you’ll need either test.

SEE RELATED: What to expect during a comprehensive eye exam

Do Walmart eye doctors charge less?

Without insurance, there’s a good chance you’ll pay less to see an optometrist at Walmart than you would at a private eye care practice.

During our national survey of eye doctors, we found that the average Walmart optometrist charged $73 for an exam, which is $22 less than the overall national average of $95.

However, when compared to other “vision center” locations, Walmart charged $4 less on average, much closer to the average price.

Of course, prices will fluctuate from store to store. It’s entirely possible that one Walmart eye doctor in your area charges $20 or $30 less than one a few miles away.

Fortunately, the doctor or assistant will be happy to tell you how much they charge before you schedule your appointment.

If you plan on using vision insurance benefits for your exam, be sure to call ahead of time to verify that it’s accepted.

In the end, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit a Walmart eye doctor, or one at any other retail chain, if you’re looking for a regular vision check-up. Remember, they are all licensed doctors — and having a trained optometrist examine your eyes is never a bad thing.

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