Most recently updated: May 10, 2016
This thread was originally started on September 20, 2009, and had ~350k views by January 2013 and now is all the way up to over a million views! I have done periodic updates to try to keep it current as I get new information. I also occasionally remove older posts that are no longer useful, and move some of the replies that deserve their own dedicated threads. I moved discussions about the new Costco progressive lens to a new thread here
Prices will vary based on geographic areas, so please share if you have found different prices near you.
I checked prices at two local branches and these are their prices as of May 2016:
Eye exam (eyeglasses only) - $60
Contact Lens eye exam - $89 (includes eyeglass exam)
Pupil dilation and visual fields costs extra
The eye exam costs are more likely to vary from store to store as the optometrist is not directly employed by Costco. They basically lease the space within the Costco store. The eye doctor at my local Costco accepted all credit cards for the eye exam cost, but the glasses are provided by Costco which means you can only pay with cash or American Express. You do NOT need to be a member to get an eye exam at Costco. You do need to be a member (or be with a member) to buy eyeglasses and contacts.
Regular Frames - $34.99 - $129.99 with most being under $100. Average men's frames are $60-70. Average women's frames are $70-80.
Designer Frames $129.99-$249.99, including brands such as Bottega Veneta ($249.99), Fendi ($129.99), Mikli ($129.99), Burberry ($199.99). Tod's ($199.99).
All lenses include scratch resistant coating and UV protection
You used to be able to bring your own frames and they would charge $18-$24 to make a template, but they said there is no charge if you bought the frames from Costco originally. It appears as of around November 2014 many stores stopped letting you use frames that were not originally purchased at Costco, however more recently many people report they can bring their own frames, as long as Costco checks them out and makes sure they are real eyeglass frames and not cheap sunglass frames you are trying to put a prescription lens into. Please share your local Costco's policies if they vary from what I've included here (and mention the location).
Plastic lenses - $19.99
Polycarbonate lenses - $43.99
High index 1.67 lenses - $69.99
Lined bifocal lenses - $86-$130 depending on the material, includes anti-reflective coating
Lined trifocal lenses - $86-$130 depending on the material, includes anti-reflective coating
Premium Anti-reflective coating to any of the above adds $29.99
Progressive (Kirkland Signature Digital HD since summer 2014):
Polycarbonate $130 (includes premium anti-refective coating)
High Index $160 (includes premium anti-reflective coating)
Transitions brand photochromic treatment adds $30 except on high index lenses it is an extra $45.
They offer polarized lenses with anti-reflective coating for $80 (single vision) or $140 (progressive).
They offer Drivewear polarized lenses specifically designed for driving as they will darken based on light, even inside a car (normal Transitions lenses will not darken inside a car because they adjust based on UV light but windshields block UV light). The lenses include an anti-reflective coating. Drivewear single vision polycarbonate lenses are $124 and progressive lenses are $174.
All of their lenses appear to be proprietary at this point, under the Kirkland name. The anti-reflective coating is also a proprietary product. They say it is not Crizal, but is comparable to the best anti-reflective coatings available.
Costco DOES accept some forms of insurance. I will try to get a list soon, but I know my local Costco does accept VSP eye insurance. They do NOT accept Eye Med, but I've seen that some companies that use Eye Med have a provision that they will match in-network coverage if you use Costco. Even if Costco does not accept your insurance, you can usually still submit your Costco bill as an out of network provider. For me, Eye Med will cover a good portion of the frames, lenses and contacts at Costco as an out of network provider. In fact, Costco combined with my out of network coverage comes out cheaper than going in network.
Again - you do NOT need to be a member to get an eye exam. You DO need to be a member (or be with a member) to purchase the eyeglasses or contacts.
As far as quality goes, I am a big fan of Costco optical. I found the quality of my glasses to be top notch, with nice frames, nice lenses, and a high quality anti-reflective coating. Consumer Reports had similar findings as reported in their December 2010 issue. Costco received their highest rating. Costco received the highest marks on customer satisfaction of any eyeglass chains and they also beat most of them on price. Costco also did the best in their review when it came to not having problems such as loose lenses, blurred vision, or damaged frames within the first few weeks after purchase.
My Costco eyeglasses performed well. They remain my first choice for quality glasses with excellent customer support at a much lower cost than what you will pay at other retail chains or a prviate optometrist. For my annual exam and glasses this year, I'm going to Costco and plan to try their new progressive lenses. Look for a new post on that topic soon.
If you have any comments or opinions on Costco's vision department, I'd be interested to hear it by posting in this forum.