It’s expensive to have crappy vision

I have extremely poor vision. I always have. I was that baby who was wearing glasses with the elastic around the back of her head so that I wouldn’t pull them off.

So to frame my perspective (no pun intended), I’ve had glasses since I was a baby, and I’ve had contact lenses since I was thirteen years old.

Eye doctor exams in Canada run between $135 and $210, depending on where you go. To wear contact lenses, you’re required to get an eye doctor exam every year. So, if I were to low-ball an estimate of what I’ve spent on eye-exams from the time I was thirteen to now, my eye exams have cost $2,565

Every major benefit provider in this country will pay $100 for a Canadian to get their eyes checked every second year. So, I will subtract $600, as that would have been paid for by benefits.

Out of my pocket, I’ve paid $1,965 to sit in an exam chair and have a doctor tell me that I have shitty vision.

That, in of itself, doesn’t include the special treatments and tests I’ve required over the years because of my vision being so poor. I can’t even fathom how much that’s gone on to cost. Special requirements aren’t often covered by benefits providers, because apparently I just messed up and should’ve come out of the womb with good eye sight? Let’s low ball my treatments over the years to roughly $5,000.

I have a special prescription for my eyes that makes glasses between $800-$1,200 per pair when I get them. ($800 if I choose the cheapest frames, $1,200 if I try to get something a little more sturdy)

Now keep in mind here, I have no choice. I need to wear some sort of a corrective lens in my eye, or in front of my eye, in order to be able to see. Otherwise I walk into large objects, I would’ve never been able to drive, and would likely fall down stairs. I say that “I’m blind” when people ask. Whilst I’m not legally blind, the world is 50 different shades of fuzzy without some sort of vision correction.

Because I’ve prioritized contact lenses over glasses (they work better for me, my lifestyle, my mood in general), I typically get myself a new pair only once every four years. The reason for this is because I only wear my glasses at night after I’ve taken out my contacts.

If we do the math of when I started paying for my glasses at 13, to now, I’ve owned 5 pair of glasses. Let’s say, I chose the cheapest frames every single time I went (I didn’t but I don’t remember what all of the costs were). $800 x 5 pair of glasses is $4,000 spent on glasses.

To recount, I’ve spent roughly $1,965 on eye exams, $5,000 on special treatments for my eyes and $4,000 on glasses. Right now, we’re sitting at $10,965 spent just to care for my eyes and correct my vision.

Now, I have made the choice, since I was thirteen, to wear contact lenses. This has been a choice that I realize makes things more expensive, but it’s overall suited my life better and has been attainable to me, so I have willingly chosen to do it. I understand that life would be cheaper if I just wore glasses every day of my life. So this isn’t a mandatory expense, but a chosen expense to make my life easier.

The contacts that I wear cost $725 per year. The one thing that I’ve always appreciate about contact lenses is that the fee is always the same. It’s been the same since I was 13 and the price has never gone up, even when my vision has gotten worse.

$725 x 19 years is $13,775.

All major benefits providers in Canada will pay for $100 every two years. Since I wear glasses less frequently then contacts, I’ve always elected to have that $100 go towards my contact lenses. So, if we subtract an estimate of $100×10 years (to be on the fair side), I can take one thousand dollars from the total of my contact lenses. So I have paid $12,775 for contact lenses.

Since I’ve started paying for my own vision care at 13, I’ve spent $23,740.

It is extremely expensive to have shitty vision. And, it’s really a luxury that I’ve been able to afford correcting my vision all of these years. Listen, I’m lucky that for the majority of the past 19 years, I’ve had some form of benefit in some sort of way to help with that fee. But, it’s still fucking expensive with those vision benefits.

With or without benefits, these fees aren’t attainable by a lot of people. I think this is something that a lot of people don’t realize. Vision care is a bit of luxury. Granted I choose to wear contact lenses so my total is more expensive, if I wore glasses every day of my life, I’d likely need to replace them more often, so the total wouldn’t be that far off.

Now, I’ve been very lucky in my life that I’ve been able to afford this luxury.

And sadly, it is still a luxury to be able to see properly in this world.

I can’t even begin to imagine what these eye doctor visits and treatments and whatnot would cost in the United States. Probably more?

As much as I wish all kids could be born with perfect vision, that’s just not reality. There are a lot of kids in this world who just have shitty vision, for no other reason than just because. It can be really hard for their parents to afford eye doctor examinations and glasses, especially if their vision continues to change/get worse.

And for adults, you know, I’m exceptionally blessed to be in a situation where this is a feasible expense for me. I can completely understand, though, this tough for a lot of people. People who really don’t have extra money, people who live pay cheque to pay cheque, people who were laid off in the past year due to COVID, it’s hard to fathom spending vast amounts of money on this.

This is why so many people will go without.

Or, they’ll get glasses of some sort, or contacts of some sort, and just stick with that because it corrects their vision ‘enough’, despite their vision worsening.

A lot of people will just get by with what they have because it’s too damn expensive to get a new pair of glasses, or a new order of contact lenses. Can you imagine? Can you imagine having to get your driver’s license renewed and knowing you’d then have to go get your new glasses in order to get your driver’s license renewed, otherwise you can be denied? It’s an expense, on an expense.

This is something that I care very much about because I’ve always had bad vision and it’s gotten considerably worse with each passing year. It’s expensive to be blind. It’s expensive to have shitty vision. No one chooses shitty vision. Vision care needs to be made more accessible to the masses. The truth is, if your vision isn’t corrected properly, it could be made worse because of that. You could also be subject to frequent headaches, dizziness, increased lethargy, all because your eyes are working so damn hard to just see the world in front of you.

With it estimated that as much as 70% of Canadians needing corrective lenses in order to properly see (I can’t even imagine how high that stat would be around the world!), why isn’t more being done to make vision care and corrective lenses more accessible to people.

You need to see to drive. You need to see to read. You need to see to judge distances, or understand depths, or avoid hazards. Corrective vision should be way more accessible than it is, in Canada and around the world.

36 thoughts on “It’s expensive to have crappy vision

  1. Great post V! This same argument can be made for all healthcare being more accessible!

    P.S. My comments on posts seem to disappear these days! Apologies if I have upset or annoyed you, V. Guessing I am being caught in the spam filters 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. I just went through my comments spam folder this morning and it seems like your comments were/are being trapped in spam. Sorry about that. I haven’t looked into the folder in probably over a month.

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  2. Have you considered LASIK? It’s been 21 years for me and was worth every single penny I paid! I still see perfectly after all that time. Well, except age related issues reading, but not much you can do about that.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, it really does. I could not see to find my glasses if they fell off the side table in the night. Now I don’t need anything. Well, if I could find readers I liked I would get them, but most don’t seem to help much. I mostly just have problems in low light and since I use electronic devices most of the time, the light is there.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s got to be really, really hard for people who cannot afford it. You would think in such developed nations, we could provide people with these necessities at a more reasonable price. Good vision should be a necessity!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Can you imagine how it is to be born in what is called the 3rd world, with bad or no vision. Or any other sort of affliction. The mega millionaires could possibly help, but they think it’s better to rocket to the edge of space, just because they can and may be able to get even richer making it possible for other people with too much money and no moral sense. I am not envious of the rich. I would hate to be in that world. I just have contempt for many of them. Not all, but many. I’m sorry you are burdened with bad vision. It’s like having an extra weight to carry all your life, so I certainly sympathize, please don’t think I am saying you are lucky. Not at all. You are right, healthcare should be attainable by everyone in wealthy countries like ours. The USA should be ashamed of its healthcare, or lack thereof.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cannot imagine what it’s like for kids in the third world born with shitty vision. There are probably so many people born into poverty in this world who’ll never be able to clearly see someone’s face when they smile, or notice something on the ground in front of them they need to avoid. It’s sad, when you think about it. Really sad. It makes me tear up a little.

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    1. And, the discussion also needs to be had that even if you or I qualified for Lasik, that’s fucking expensive too. It’s not available to a lot of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Talk about timing! I just increased the font size on my phone not 2 minutes before I read this. I’m new to wearing glasses this year. With coverage through work I was able to get my eyes tested at Costco and bought a pair of affordable (!) single vision glasses to help with distance, without the fancy transition option. I need help with reading but can make do for now. All this to say that I’m squinting through the sun, squinting at small print and what do I have left to show for it? A measly 50 cents left from my coverage to last me through to 2023. Hooray!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It makes no sense that coverage is only every second year. I mean… yes we are lucky to have coverage. But also, your eyes can change so much in a year. It’s just benefits providers being cheap. And considering how much comes off our pay cheques for those benefits, we should be able to get more than once every two years.

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  5. I can totally relate to your thought about the ridiculous expense associated with just wanting to be able to see. Especially contact lenses- I can’t even begin to think about how much I must have spent on them over the past few years.
    I’m already saving up for LASIK! (yet another expense!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And lasik is hella expensive!
      I hope you’re able to get it soon. I’ve heard it makes a world of difference in people’s lives.

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  6. I only recently reached the point where I needed glasses. And, by recently, I mean in the last 10 years or so. Thankfully, at the time, I was working for a company that included a fair amount of vision coverage with our health insurance, so I think I only had to pay a $50 co-pay for my initial eye exam. The real expense was the glasses. From then on I did the annual eye exam for a while… until I changed jobs and no longer had vision coverage. Then I really couldn’t afford the eye exam and I just kept using the same prescription. The last time I had an eye exam at this point was three years ago (because I still have no vision coverage). There’s a eyeglasses chain that was doing a special where you can come in and get two pairs of glasses for something like $70 and with that they throw in a free eye exam. But that’s only if you choose the absolute cheapest of frames and get none of the bells and whistles that should really be standard (like glare protection, scratch resistant lenses, etc.). I honestly can’t remember how much it wound up costing me to get one pair of regular glasses and a pair of prescription sunglasses. It was a lot more than the $70 I was promised on their commercial. But since it’s been more than three years, I know I’m way overdue. So I may see if they’re running another promotion like that just so I can get the free eye exam. No sunglasses this time, though… I can get by with that 3 year old pair I already have.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Never really thought that good eyesight is a luxury for many. Just shows how many things we take for granted. Maybe you can try using UV filter which can be applied on laptops / pcs to reduce strain on eyes, do exercises to improve vision or walk on grass barefoot each morning ( heard it helps). Do try to see if u can get Lasik done .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tips. I am not a candidate for Lasik due to a genetic condition my father has with his eyes that I was also born with.

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  8. Lasik surgery is my dream. But my husband and I have been going to a place called America’s Best for our vision exams. We pay $99 each for three years worth of exams that cover contacts and glasses (I spend about $20 more per exam for some extra exams that the basic doesn’t cover). So we’re talking about $55 a year for vision care. We buy our glasses from Zenni (an online frame/lens company), where I typically get my glasses for about $35 (this includes anti-scratch/anti-glare coating and magnetic sunglasses). I typically only get enough contact lenses per year for the several weeks I work at a youth camp (sports and whatnot), it’s generally about $125 a year. So my husband and I spend approximately $180 a year each eye care. I’m so glad we’ve found an inexpensive way to get this care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, it sounds like you’ve really found a way to keep the costs of vision care low. I do hope you’re able to get Lasik! I’ve heard it makes a world of difference in people’s lives.

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  9. Made a good choice Vee. In my case, I haven’t ever tried lenses yet. I’ve been wearing my specs for a decade. i remember when I first got my eyes checked and got the specs I was literally shattered and used some ayurvedic remedies just to reduce the number 😂 and later I was okay with just using them….my Dr. said to me to do the laser stuff and all…and I am not doing it yet… Let me look nerdy 😂 as an expenses I now make purchases from fancy websites all in same colour…decade earlier cheap frames were the priority….now we have leveled up the black specs 😂😅

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Totally agree with this! You make such a good point. It’s a bit of a mystery to me that universal health care doesn’t cover this or dental.
    I had laser correction and it pays for itself in a couple years, but that’s not an option for so many people (like yourself).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OHHHHHHHHH Dental Care is another luxury that I could rant on about. Dental might even be worse because people are genuinely judged so much for their appearance.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve got shitty vision too but when I got older and my eyes started to age my eyesight improved. I’ve still got shitty vision but I can see details that I could never see before without my glasses. It’s so weird!

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