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How much is an eye exam in Calgary?

The cost of an eye exam in Calgary is not standardized across the board and varies from $80-200. Why such a big range? A stand-alone basic vision test performed by a licensed optician can produce a glasses prescription, but does not reveal eye health or detect undiagnosed eye diseases. Bare-bones sight tests are usually characterized by a quick auto-refraction (“look at the hot air balloon”) and refraction (“which is better, 1 or 2?”). There will be no mention of your eye or eye health with a sight test.

However, the scope of practice for Optometrists has increased substantially over the past decades to include specialty examinations, ability to diagnose, treat and manage eye conditions and diseases. Optometrists in Alberta have the ability to prescribe related oral medication, order lab tests and ultrasounds, and perform advanced imaging for early detection of life threatening diseases.

At Respect Eyecare in Calgary, we don't do eye exams like everyone else. Every comprehensive eye exam includes doctor recommended optomaps scan, non-invasive ultra wide field retinal imaging, that often means no need for the use of dilation drops. This scan can capture more than 80% of the retina (the back of the eye) versus old technologies that can only see up to 15%. Our doctors will walk you through all of your results and even show you your retinal images in 3D animation. Our eye exams also measure eye pressure without the dreaded air puff to the eyeball. Instead of utilizing technicians, our doctor is with you through every step of the eye exam to explain and educate on eye health and eye related issues.

In the same way that chiropractors, dentists and physiotherapists set their own prices, the cost to get your eyes checked by an Optometrist will vary on the scope of their practice and the types of testing they include in their comprehensive eye exam. Other factors that may affect eye exam costs in Calgary are the income levels of the neighborhoods in which they serve, how established their practice is and the demographic they are targeting.

Are eye exams covered by Alberta Health?

For children ages 0-18, Alberta Health Care covers one complete children's eye exam per year. Likewise, Seniors in Alberta ages 65+ receive one free complete senior's eye exam per year. Any specialty imaging may have additional hard costs on top of the exam fee that would be considered out-of-pocket, however many company or private health insurances can cover the additional cost so make sure you check your vision plan details.

For adults ages 19-64, comprehensive eye exams are not covered by Alberta Health Care. Many Optometrists offer direct billing to private insurance companies if vision coverage is included in your insurance plan.

What is covered by Alberta Health Care are medically necessary or urgent eye care, which all Alberta residents are eligible for. Conditions that qualify include

  • eye infections or injuries,

  • foreign objects in the eye,

  • sudden changes in vision,

  • post-operative care following cataract surgery, and

  • monitoring for diabetes, glaucoma and retinal disease.

Many people mistakenly visit their family doctor or go the Emergency Department at their nearest hospital for things like eye infections and eye allergies, but Optometrists are especially qualified for eye-related care and typically have same-day scheduling availability. Calgary Optometrists are trained and equipped to diagnose, treat or refer to a specialist if needed.

Components of an eye exam

A comprehensive eye exam is a series of tests performed by an Optometrist to check for vision, eye health and function of eye muscles. Since many eye diseases are often undetected until much later, routine eye exams can help catch preventable eye diseases or reveal the first signs of other diseases in the body. Permanent vision loss is often preventable or can be slowed down with early detection and proper treatment.

Component of an eye exam include

  • refraction,

  • visual acuity and function,

  • binocular vision efficiency (making sure the eyes work together at the same time),

  • analysis of tests and treatment,

  • tonometry and diagnostic imaging,

  • medical and case history,

  • visual field,

  • retina (back of the eye) and

  • cornea (front of the eye) assessment.

In addition if the patient has any other concerns, such as dry eyes or is interested in vision-correcting laser surgery, an Optometrist would consult on this and may do additional testing.

Do I need an eye exam even if I can see perfectly?


Even if you have perfectly good vision, it is important that you get your eyes checked by an Optometrist to ensure proper eye health and early detection of eye disease. In these cases, your Optometrist may recommend a full eye exam every two years instead of annually.

Are eye exams worth it?

Yes, paying for a high quality eye exam is worth it.

Most people would agree that your vision is indispensable and a vital component to your quality of life. We use our eyes more than our legs - from the moment we wake up to the moment we sleep at night. Less than $200 to spend once a year on one of your most vital senses is a small price to pay to ensure we maintain our vision for a lifetime.

We often spend anywhere from $50-300 on a good haircut that needs to be maintained every month or several times a year. And hair is merely cosmetic! Physiotherapy charges upwards of $150 for a physical assessment that requires virtually zero equipment and has no guarantee of effective treatment. Not to say these things are valuable and necessary, but we hear far too often people take their vision and vision needs for granted.

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