It’s a widely accepted truth that Canada has an exceptional healthcare system. Despite the proactive health opportunities this offers, one aspect of well-being that Canadians struggle with is eye health.

A survey from the Canadian Ophthalmological Society reports that while about 76% of respondents are concerned about their eye health, many are unfamiliar with the risk factors for major eye diseases they face daily—or the steps they need to take to mitigate those risks.

Some of this may be because, despite Canada’s robust healthcare system, it doesn’t cover all of vision care. Laser eye surgery and prescription eyeglasses are things you’ll have to pay for out of pocket—which may be causing people to avoid learning about their eye needs for fear they won’t be able to fulfil them.

However, eye treatment doesn’t have to be costly. There are spending habits you can leverage to save money on eyewear and eye care. Here are a few.

Check if you have vision insurance

Though the country’s healthcare system may not fully cover your eye health, your insurance might. That makes understanding insurance benefits one of the best ways to save money—you want to maximize what you’re already spending, after all.

The concept of vision insurance is similar to home and car insurance in that it can lower the costs of the products you have to spend on. Knowing how to use vision insurance can go a long way in cutting costs when buying prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, contact lenses, and even eye exams.

You can also use your FSA or HSA dollars for eyecare expenses, so it’s best to research the options insurance providers offer to stretch their vision benefits as far as they can go.

Claim discounted eye exams

The recommended guideline is that you get an eye exam once every two years. The government does cover this to some extent, depending on certain factors.

For example, people aged 65 and older can get a free eye exam every 18 months—or more frequently if diagnosed with eye-related conditions like macular degeneration or diabetes.

Provinces like Québec also grant free eye tests through social assistance programs. If these aren’t options for you, you can keep an eye out for deals and discounts provided by your optometrist.

During some parts of the year, you might be able to get examined free of charge or at a lower price or bundle your eye exam with the cost of your vision aids.

Purchase glasses online

You’ll also want to keep a written version of your eye prescription handy—that way, you can expand your choices of where to get your eye gear. You’ll also be able to purchase eyeglasses online.

Though you may be hesitant about buying a pair of specs without wearing them first, many optical websites have virtual try-on features and trial services that help you test how your specs might look and fit.

You also get a wider range of styles and colours when you purchase online—not to mention better prices. In fact, WebMD finds that shoppers can save up to 40% by buying their specs online. With that kind of saving potential, it’s something you’ll want to consider.

You can even buy a spare pair in case of emergency and save on inflation costs the next time you want to switch up your look with a fresh pair of frames.

Maintain your glasses

You can also save money by taking care of the glasses that you already have and making them last as long as possible. This will involve regularly using a microfiber cloth to clean it rather than rougher materials to prevent scratches, keeping your glasses in a hard-shell case when you aren’t using them, and carefully using both hands when taking them off and on.

You’ll also want to do occasional maintenance checks and minor repairs. Fortunately, those are entirely free—simply head to the store where you bought your frames and ask for adjustments.

Eyewear and eye care can be costly. With the right habits, however, you can find ways to reduce expenses and take care of your vision.

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