Costco Optical eyeglasses: 16 things to know before you buy glasses or get an eye exam

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At first, I didn’t notice that Costco had an Optical desk offering eye examinations within their warehouse. After passing it multiple times, it dawned on me that you could actually get your eyes checked there.

This realization sparked numerous questions in my mind. I wondered about the professionals conducting the eye exams, the associated costs, the availability of popular brand-name frames, and whether they accepted vision insurance.

It struck me that others might share these same curiosities, leading to the idea for this article. My aim is to provide comprehensive answers to these common queries, helping you make well-informed decisions when you’re in need of new eyeglasses or sunglasses.

Costco Optical: A great choice for eyeglasses, eye exams, contacts and more

Costco Optical stands out as an excellent option for purchasing eyeglasses, undergoing eye exams, acquiring contacts, and additional eye care needs.

In a 2022 Consumer Reports survey comprising over 11,000 CR members, Costco Optical earned the distinction of being named the top place to buy eyeglasses. This recognition is attributed to various factors, including the affordability of their products and the provision of excellent customer service.

1. How much is an eye exam at Costco?

An eye exam at Costco typically costs between $75 to $100, the exact price may vary based on your location. Most major insurance plans are usually accepted at Costco Optical. The eye exams at Costco are conducted by independent optometrists who either work within the store or have their practice nearby.

As these doctors are independent contractors, suggestions from a Reddit thread advise identifying the optometrist’s name at your local Costco warehouse. This way, you can search and review feedback about the doctor online before scheduling an appointment for your eye exam at Costco.

2. What is the cost of eyeglasses at Costco?

The cost of eyeglasses at Costco can differ based on location and the specific type of lenses and frames you choose. As of September 2023, on average, single-vision lenses at Costco begin at around $63, while frames typically start at approximately $61. When you combine these costs, a basic pair of prescription eyeglasses from Costco can start at around $120.

However, the prices provided for different locations across the country can vary. For instance, single-vision lenses range from $60 to $65, and frame prices start between $45 and $69 in different areas. Additionally, the cost of an eye exam also fluctuates between $75 and $100 across locations.

Factors influencing the final price include your location, the style of frames you select, and the complexity of your prescription. To get a precise estimate for your glasses, it’s advisable to contact or visit your nearest Costco Optical with your prescription details ready. This way, you’ll have a clearer idea of the specific costs based on your preferences and needs.

3. Costco carries a wide variety of designer sunglasses

Costco is a store that sells many different types of products, and one of the things they have available is a big selection of fancy sunglasses. They’ve got famous brands like Ray-Ban, Maui Jim, Oakley, and others you might recognize. For example, the Ray-Ban sunglasses can be bought starting at $84.99.

Apart from Ray-Ban, Costco Optical sells sunglasses made by various other well-known designers. Some of these brands include Chloé, Hobie, Revo, Saint Laurent, Serengeti, SPY, Swarovski, Thom Browne, Trina Turk, Vera Bradley, and XOXO. So, if you’re looking for some stylish sunglasses from these high-end designers, Costco could be a good place to check out.

4. Costco has great prices on top-selling contact lens brands

Costco provides competitive pricing on popular contact lens brands, making it a convenient option for purchasing lenses alongside eyeglasses and sunglasses at their Optical section. As of September 2023, here are some examples of contact lens brands and their prices available at Costco:

  • Acuvue (Moist): Daily lenses in a 30-pack for $29.87.
  • AquaComfort Plus (Dailies): Daily lenses in a 30-pack for $27.17.
  • Acuvue (Vita): Monthly lenses in a 6-pack for $49.87.
  • Air Optix: Monthly lenses in a 6-pack for $41.87.
  • Biofinity: Monthly lenses in a 6-pack for $32.87.
  • Proclear: Monthly lenses in a 6-pack for $39.87.

In addition to these well-known brands, Costco offers its own brand, Kirkland Signature Daily Disposable 90-pack, priced at $58.99 per box, containing 90 disposable lenses.

To help consumers make informed decisions, Costco’s prices can be compared to other sellers such as 1-800 Contacts, Lens.com, and LensDirect.com through a comprehensive comparison of the best places to buy contact lenses.

5. How do I schedule an eye exam and what are their hours?

To schedule an eye exam at Costco Optical, it’s advisable to call ahead and book an appointment, even though they accept walk-ins when there’s availability.

The operating hours for Costco Optical, where eye exams are conducted, might differ from the regular warehouse hours. Typically, the hours for eye exams are separate, but the hours for purchasing glasses remain the same.

For instance, at a particular Costco, eye exams are offered from 10 am to 7 pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday), from 9:45 am to 5 pm on Saturdays, and from 10 am to 3 pm on Sundays.

To ensure accuracy, it’s recommended to contact your local Costco to schedule your eye exam appointment and inquire about their specific operating hours for eye exams and glasses purchases.

6. Costco glasses and eye exams are pretty affordable

Costco offers glasses and eye exams at reasonable prices. According to customer feedback, the real savings at Costco Optical mainly come from the eyewear itself. An optician from Costco mentioned on Reddit that the frames, lenses, and contacts are typically marked up only by around 1% over the cost price. This suggests that Costco provides highly competitive pricing for these products.

Moreover, Costco often allows customers to bring in their own frames and will adjust new prescription lenses to fit these frames (as long as they’re in good condition). While there might be a small fee for this service, it tends to be much more affordable than purchasing an entirely new pair of glasses.

7. Do I need to be a Costco member?

You don’t require a Costco membership for an eye exam. However, a membership is necessary if you plan to buy eyeglasses or contact lenses from Costco. If you’re visiting for an eye exam without a membership, simply inform the staff at the entrance, and they’ll allow you into the store and guide you to the optometry center without any issues.

8. Six out of seven Costco warehouses have a Costco Optical department

Costco typically includes a section called Costco Optical in most of its locations. This area functions like a regular eyeglass store or optometrist’s office but on a slightly smaller scale. At Costco Optical, customers can avail themselves of services like eye examinations, purchase prescription eyeglasses, or buy contact lenses.

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Compared to other standalone eyeglass stores such as LensCrafters, Costco Optical might have a smaller range of choices but still offers a decent selection. They stock brand-name designer frames and various types of contact lenses for customers.

It’s important to note that not every Costco store features an optical department. Research suggests that approximately 500 out of the 583 Costco locations across the United States have this service available. To locate a Costco Optical near you, visit the Costco website for specific store information.

A helpful tip: Check the operating hours beforehand as Costco Optical sections typically close a bit earlier than the main warehouse itself.

9. Does Costco have an Optometrist on staff?

Yes, Costco does have an optometrist available within their premises. However, it’s important to note that these optometrists aren’t direct Costco employees. Instead, they are considered Independent Doctors of Optometry. These professionals have completed optometry school and obtained the necessary licenses to conduct eye exams.

In essence, they operate their optometry practice within the Costco space, essentially renting it from Costco. You can easily find the name of the optometrist displayed prominently in the optometry department at Costco. It’s advisable to take note of their name during your visit and conduct a brief online search, particularly on platforms like Yelp!, to read reviews about their services.

Although the majority of these optometrists receive positive recommendations, it’s a prudent practice to conduct some research before entrusting them with your eye care. Checking reviews can provide valuable insights before scheduling an appointment for your eye examinations or any related services.

10. Can I bring a prescription from another Optometrist?

Absolutely! If you already have a prescription from a different optometrist, you’re welcome to bring it to Costco. You’re not obligated to use Costco’s optometrist services to benefit from their affordable prices for glasses or contact lenses. Simply bring in your existing prescription, and one of their staff members will assist you in getting the eyewear you need.

11. What eyewear brands does Costco sell?

Costco offers a variety of eyewear brands for both eyeglasses and sunglasses. For eyeglasses, some notable brands available at Costco include Bebe, Bottega, Burberry, Fendi, Kirkland Signature, Mikli, Tod’s, and Veneta.

As for sunglasses, popular brands offered by Costco are Balmain, Furla, Hobie, Kate Spade, Kirkland Signature, Maui Jim, Nike, Oakley, Ray-Ban, Serengeti, Vera Bradley, Vera Wang, and XOXO. Among these brands, Costco tends to have a more extensive collection of frames from Maui Jim and Ray-Ban compared to others.

12. You can buy glasses without getting an eye exam at Costco Optical

You have the flexibility to purchase glasses without undergoing an eye exam at Costco Optical locations. While many people prefer to have their eyes checked and select frames in one place, there’s no requirement to do both at Costco. If you already have a prescription from another optometrist, you can simply bring it to Costco Optical to buy new glasses.

Alternatively, you can choose to have your eye examination at Costco and then use that prescription to order glasses from another place if you prefer. The decision is entirely up to you, providing you the freedom to manage your eye care as per your preferences and convenience.

13. How do Costco prices stack up?

According to a recent Consumer Reports study, which revealed that people who purchased eyeglasses at Costco typically paid an average of $184 out-of-pocket. This cost was significantly lower compared to what customers paid at other stores like Lens Crafters or boutique eyewear shops, often saving them hundreds of dollars.

Costco offers an ongoing deal where purchasing one complete pair of prescription eyeglasses qualifies you for a $30 discount on any additional pair, making it an attractive option for those interested in having a spare pair. The study also highlighted Walmart and Sam’s Club as having competitive prices for eyewear.

Moreover, a Costco Optical employee shared on a Reddit thread that Costco usually applies a minimal markup of 1% over the cost price on frames, contacts, and lenses, indicating potentially lower prices compared to other retailers.

14. Does Costco Optical accept ALL vision insurance?

Costco typically accepts a wide range of vision insurance plans, including major providers like VSP, EyeMed, Davis Vision, VBA Vision, FEP BlueVision, MES Vision, United Healthcare, and Spectera. They may also accept various regional vision insurance plans at most Costco locations. However, it’s important to note that Costco doesn’t accept “Discount Plans.”

Even if you don’t have insurance, Costco Optical can often offer more affordable prices compared to other places, as noted in a Reddit thread. Their website suggests inquiring at the local Costco Optical department for specific details about accepted insurance plans, ensuring clarity before making any decisions regarding eye care services or purchases.

15. You may get a deal from time to time — especially if you buy supplies in bulk

At Costco Optical, there are occasional opportunities to save money on eyewear and related products. For instance, if you buy items in bulk, you might come across special discounts. For example, there might be deals like a $30 discount if you purchase two pairs of glasses.

Sometimes, Costco offers promotions on specific products. For instance, there was recently a promotion on Kirkland Signature Daily Disposable contact lenses. When you ordered these lenses online through Costco Optical, buying four boxes could get you a $35 discount, and purchasing eight boxes would save you $90.

Additionally, here’s a useful tip: If you buy Costco’s eyeglass cleaning kit, you can reportedly bring the bottle back to the optical department anytime, and they’ll refill the solution for free. This might be a handy way to save on cleaning supplies for your eyewear.

16. You can return glasses or contact lenses to Costco if you’re not satisfied

Return policy for glasses and contact lenses at Costco:

Contact Lenses:
If you purchase contact lenses from Costco and find yourself dissatisfied, you have the option to return them. You can bring unopened or unused contact lenses back to any Costco location and receive a refund.

For online purchases, if visiting a store is not possible, you can initiate the return process online. However, it’s crucial that the contact lenses remain unopened and unused for Costco to issue a refund.

Glasses:
In the case of glasses bought from Costco, if you encounter issues with the fit or notice a problem with the prescription, you can return to Costco Optical for assistance without any additional charges. They’ll make necessary adjustments or modifications to your glasses for a better fit, entirely free of cost. If the mistake lies in the order made by Costco, they will replace the glasses at no extra charge.

However, it’s important to note that if you change your mind about the prescription glasses you selected and there’s no fault with the order, you shouldn’t expect a refund or a replacement from Costco.

What are the cons of using Costco Optical?

Here’s a detailed explanation of the cons associated with using Costco Optical:

  1. Limited Selection: At Costco Optical, the variety of frames available is somewhat restricted. Typically, most locations offer approximately 2.5 cases of men’s frames and 3 cases for women’s frames. While this might seem like a decent selection, it falls short compared to stores or websites dedicated solely to selling frames.
  2. Two-Week Waiting Period: After selecting your frames, be prepared to wait for up to two weeks for them to be ready. This waiting period might be longer compared to some other optical retailers.
  3. Insufficient Assistance: During busy periods, some customers have complained about a lack of adequate staff at Costco Optical. This can result in longer waiting times and less personalized assistance when choosing frames or seeking guidance.
  4. Competitive Online Pricing: While Costco Optical offers reasonable prices, certain online platforms, such as Zenni Optical.com, have been recommended by multiple individuals for offering even more cost-effective options for frames and contacts. These online alternatives might provide better deals compared to Costco.

These cons represent some of the drawbacks that individuals have experienced or observed when using Costco Optical services.