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How to save on glasses for the whole family

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How can you save on the cost of eyeglasses for your family? Look for sales, shop online, take advantage of buy-one-get-one offers and maybe replace just the lenses (keep your favorite frames).

We'll show you how to make the most of discounts, promotions and vision insurance to cut the cost of eyewear for everyone in your household.

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How much do prescription glasses cost?

Prescription eyeglasses can get expensive, especially if you have to buy glasses for your whole family.

How much are we talking? According to Consumer Reports, eyeglasses from popular U.S. eyewear chains cost an average of $369 per pair.

Multiply that by two, three or more — especially if you have young children who go through several pairs each year — and your glasses bill can quickly cut into your regular budget.

Proper vision care can easily get sidetracked by tight finances. In a Think About Your Eyes survey, 19% of people said they haven’t visited the eye doctor in the past year because they can’t afford it.

The good news is that, although eyeglasses for the family can get pricey, there are lots of ways to save.

How vision insurance can save you on eye exams and glasses

Budgeting for the family eyewear is two-fold. First, there’s the cost of each eye exam. Then you have to purchase the glasses (and no, that price tag on the frames does not include the lenses).

If you have vision insurance through your employer or a plan you purchased on your own, it could mean substantial savings for a spectacles-wearing family.

For example, a comprehensive eye exam can cost $100 or more without insurance. With vision insurance, like EyeMed or VSP, you would have to cover only the co-pay, typically around $10 for insured members.

For eyeglasses, your insurance will typically provide some kind of discount or allowance toward your frames and lenses. The allowance, and your co-pay, will vary based on your plan.

Without vision insurance, you’d have to pay out of pocket for everything. The lenses alone would be around $100 for single vision and no additional treatments.

Who has the best eyeglasses deals for the family?

Work with your eye doctor or eyeglass retailer. If you’re purchasing multiple glasses for your family, there may be a family plan available that provides a discount.

Also, ask to see clearance frames, which can offer substantial savings.

And don’t worry — frames are typically on clearance because they’re from a previous season’s collection, not because they have any kind of wear or damage.

Check out warehouse store deals. Places like Costco can save you anywhere from 20% to 30% on glasses, says Andrea Woroch, budgeting expert.

“You don't even have to be a member to book an appointment with Costco’s in-house optometrist,” she adds, although membership is required for purchasing eyeglasses.

Shop online if you have a simple prescription. If you wear single vision lenses, shopping for adult eyeglasses online could result in significant savings. With your updated prescription and pupillary distance from an eye exam, you're all set to shop online.

But for growing kids — or if you have progressive lenses or a complex prescription, it’s probably best to stick with in-person eyeglass fittings.

Hit the discount stores. If someone in your family has a very simple prescription, you can find reading glasses for $1-$3 at a dollar or discount store, Woroch adds.

At the very least, these can serve as “backup” pairs for kids who are rough on their glasses. This way, they can keep their good pair safe for school and homework.

Stay on top of sales. “Sign up to receive e-newsletters from your favorite eyeglasses brands to learn about new offers or upcoming sales,” Woroch says.

Just like any type of shopping you do, searching on social media or online for promo codes might help you save a percentage in-store or online. (Pro tip: You can find promo codes for discounts on eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and more on our Eyewear Offers page.)

See if there’s a BOGO deal. You might find “buy one, get one” deals online, which can be great if you have more than one family member getting glasses, or if you want to get a second pair for yourself.

Some vision insurance carriers and retailers allow you to get a second pair for half-price or free.

Keep the same frames. If you love the look of your glasses and they’re still in good condition, ask to reuse the frames when your lens prescription changes. After all, every little bit helps when you’re on a budget.

Other ways to save on prescription glasses

Contribute to an HSA or FSA. Although you’re technically not saving on the price of eyeglasses for your family with these accounts, they can help take the sting out of the total bill, Woroch says.

How these accounts work: Socking away money using pre-tax dollars in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account means those savings will be there for you when family eye doctor appointments roll around.

Consider a warranty, subscription or special insurance plan for your children’s glasses. If you find that your children break or lose their glasses routinely, look into a plan that allows for low-cost or free replacements. You’ll be glad you did after your child's next gym class accident.

SEE RELATED: 10 tips for buying kids’ eyewear

BOTTOM LINE: With vision insurance and the sleuthing skills to find discounts, deals and lower-cost eye exams and glasses, you can cut down your family’s eye care expenses.

Feel free to use our list of cost-saving strategies to help you visualize making eyeglasses more affordable for your family.

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