Costco Eyeglasses and Eye Exam - How much does it cost?

Getting the best value for your money when it comes to eyeglasses, sunglasses, eye exams, and contact lenses.

Postby george » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:22 pm

Most recently updated: October 29, 2015

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 November 2014:
Eye exam (eyeglasses only) - $49
Contact Lens eye exam - $79 (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 some people have found their local stores do allow this. Please share your local Costco's policies if they vary from what I've included here.

Single Vision:
Plastic lenses - $19.99
Polycarbonate lenses - $43.99
High index 1.67 lenses - $69.99

Lined bifocal lenses - $90 (I need to recheck this as the price seems higher than it should be)
Lined trifocal lenses - $86-$130 depending on the material

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.
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Postby looking4glasses » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:50 am

I'm almost due for my annual eye exam and I'm wondering if the eye doctors at Costco are as good as a private optician? I would think someone in private practice would probably be better than someone working for a big corporation. Also, can you then take your prescription and buy your glasses somewhere online to save money?

What do you think the quality difference is between Costco, a private optician, and online stores like Zenni for the lenses and frames are?

Postby george » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:17 pm


I decided to make another post to clarify the difference between optician and optometrist (and ophthalmologist) as you used the word optician meaning eye doctor, but you seemed to mean optometrist (a basic eye doctor). When you go to a place like Costco or Lenscrafters, you'll see an optometrist to test your eyes.

All places that I'm aware of use licensed optometrists, which means that whether you go to a place like Costco or Lenscrafters, you'll see someone with the same level of training and licensing as someone in private practice. Some people believe that you get a more personal experience when you go to a private practicioner. Other people feel that there is a conflict of interest in that private practice optometrists almost always make money off of the glasses and frames that they sell. At a place like Costco, the optometrist doesn't make any extra money whether you buy your glasses there or not, so if they make a recommendation for a specific type of lens, they probably aren't just trying to sell you the product with which they make the most profit. Having said that, though, I do have to say that when I went to Lenscrafters last year, the optometrist was strongly recommending the anti-reflective lenses - saying that some of my blurry vision could have been from eye fatigue. While there does seem to be some basis for her recommendation, it did seem like she was maybe trying to get me to buy something that may not make much of a difference. I'm still not convinced I benefit from anti-reflective lenses as I don't have a strong enough prescription to create much glare. That's a separate issue though.

At Costco, they seem to have a decent quality lens with most of the options you'll want, including a decent quality anti-reflective coating for a good price. If you want one of the top of the line lens treatments like Crizal Avance or Zeiss Purecoat , I think you'd have to go to one of the private optometrists and check to see if they actually offer the desired lens treatments before you go. The superior features of these lenses seem to be increased coatings that will resist oils and and dirt with lenses that clean more easily, while also being very durable and scratch resistant. From what I can tell, the lenses at Costco are going to be very good quality but I haven't been able to find anything specific. Going to a private practitioner would give you an option for one of these extra high quality lens treatments, but it will also likely cost you significantly more than the very good lenses at Costco. There was a nice discussion on this topic last year with someone who wound up buying the Crizal Avance. The lens was about $250 vs a very good but not top of the line lens from Costco for $74.

I'm actually going to be due for my annual eye exam in August and I'm trying to decide which way to go myself. I got super cheap glasses online from Zenni Optical last year and they have served me very well. However, my insurance will pay for a new pair of glasses this year so I'm actually deciding between Costco and getting something like Crizal Avance. I'm leaning towards going the Costco route as I don't know that I'll appreciate the difference. If I ever need a spare pair for which insurance won't pay, I'll wind up ordering through Zenni again, unless another place comes along that seems as good.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask.
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Postby george » Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:45 pm

Here is my eye exam review and some info about the eyeglasses. I'll post a full review of the eyeglasses once I receive them.

I called Costco to set up an eye exam. There is one optometrist who has an office within the Costco, but she is considered as independent from Costco. There were no appointments available the same day, so I made the appointment for later in the week. This was in contrast to Lenscrafters where I've always been able to get an eye exam the same day I've called.

I showed up to Costco a few minutes before my appointment and I noticed there is a sign saying they accept walk-ins if the time is available. I don't know if they are able to "squeeze" people in if they show up and want an appointment. My appointment did go fairly fast, so I can see it as possible.

I had checked in advance about my insurance (through EyeMed) and Costco. Costco does NOT accept insurance. What they do is give you a receipt that you can then submit to your own insurance. As Costco is "Out of Network", the coverage is up to $30 for an eye exam, up to $70 for frames, and up to $50 for single vision lenses. While the amount covered in network when I went to Lenscrafters was much more ($10 copay for eye exam, $10 copay for frames up to $175 and $10 copay for standard single vision lenses (not including extra treatments), because Costco's prices were so much lower, I still am able to get good glasses for much less money. More on that later.

I knew the eye exam would cost $49 (it's a little more for a contact lens exam) and it would be an additional $20 if she recommended pupil dilation.

The optometrist had an assistant who handled the scheduling, payments, and the initial eye exam. The assistant was very nice and she initially had me start by looking at a standard eye chart across the room - first with both eyes, then covering each eye one at a time. She then had me read a card she held close up - again first with both eyes, then covering one eye at a time. She had me repeat both the wall chart and the close up chart without my eyeglasses - with both eyes and each eye separately.

After finishing that, she had me put on 3D glasses and she showed me pictures in a book where I had to say what 3D shape I saw. After taking off the 3D glasses, she showed me a book with circles filled with different colored dots that make up various numbers.

After finishing that, she had me sit down at the machines. I looked into the first machine where there is a picture of a little house on a grassy lawn. The picture then goes in and out of focus. The same test was done when I was at Lenscrafters - I believe it is to try to estimate your eyeglass prescription. Next there was the machine that blows air into your eye - putting one eye in front of the light at a time, to get a puff of air. The air puff test is to test for glaucoma.

Once I finished those tests, I went in to see the eye doctor. Since I had never had an eye exam with her before, she first took my glasses and used a machine to measure the prescription. She said my glasses looked like they were still in very good shape (these were the glasses I had purchased at Zenni Optical almost exactly a year ago). She asked a few questions and if I had any particular problems. Shen then had me sit in front of the machine with all of the lenses and she had me try reading different rows of letters / numbers. Shen then asked a few times to compare different settings ("which is better - one or two?"). All of the options she chose looked almost the same to me. She also looked into my eyes with her hand held light/lens. She didn't suggest dilation or peripheral field testing. She said that my prescription hasn't changed at all and that I don't need to get new eyeglasses at this time. She did say I am almost to the point of needing bifocals, but not yet. She said she would guess I will need them in a few years, but that was just her guess. I told her my insurance will cover a new pair and she recommended I get a pair of prescription sunglasses, but I told her that I don't wear sunglasses. I asked her about Transitions / photochromic lenses and she said she was actually wearing a pair and that they may be a good option for me. She said they don't get as dark as dedicated sunglasses but will be better for me as I don't wear sunglasses at all (even though I have the clip-on sunglasses from Zenni - I just don't ever use them).

As I wanted to check out the quality of Costco's eyeglasses and since my insurance will cover a pair, I figured I would get a pair and I can always keep them as a spare. The eyeglasses and lenses are sold by Costco - not a separate entity like the optometrist. They had two sections of men's frames - one section which was for narrower glasses and one section for wider glasses. The narrower glasses are what fit me. While there were many different frames in the one section, many of them are similar styles by different companies. It wasn't a huge selection by any means. I found a frame that I liked - which was similar to my current pair - and the frame was $75. They had frames starting at around $39 up to just over $100. Most were around the $50 price.

I then took the frames I liked to the counter and she had me sit down and she measured my pupillary distance. She used a little machine that looks kind of like binoculars. The pupil distance she measured was 1mm smaller than the number I came up with when I measured my own last year. I'd say I was pretty darn close measuring it myself last year for my Zenni order. She then said that they had a few options of lenses, with plastic being cheapest, then polycarbonate, then high index lenses. As I have a weak prescription, I don't need high index lenses. She mentioned the polycarbonate lenses are stronger than the plastic and lighter. I'm familiar with the differences and while I liked my original plastic lenses from Lenscrafters, I wanted to get the polycarbonate with anti-reflective coating so that I can see how scratch resistant they are and how good the anti-reflective coating is. I especially wanted to compare them to my Zenni Optical glasses.

The polycarbonate lenses were $44 and then the antireflective coating was an extra $30. Between the lenses, frames, and tax I spent just over $150, plus the $50 for the eye exam.

Unlike when I get my exam at Lenscrafters (and glasses), I will have to submit the receipts to my insurance. They should reimburse me about $150, making the eye exam + new glasses only $50. Even with Lenscrafters being "in network" I would have had to pay $10 for the eye exam, $10 for new frames, and then significantly more for similar new lenses as the Lenscrafters lenses with anti-reflective coating would only be partially covered by my insurance - and the Lenscrafters with anti-reflective coating are very pricey. I probably could have gotten plastic lenses without anti-reflective coatings for about the same price.

They said it will take 7-10 days to get the glasses and they will call me when they arrive. I'll post an update at that time.

In the future, I will probably just get my eye exams at Lenscrafters, or find a local optometrist who is "in network" as it will save me the hassle of having to submit paperwork for reimbursement from insurance. Also, unless the Costco eyeglasses are significantly better than the ones from Zenni, I will probably just order from Zenni in the future. I am thinking I may order photochromic / Transitions lenses from Zenni next.
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Postby george » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:52 pm

I got a call from Costco about 10 days after I ordered the glasses. I went and picked them up. The person at the Costco Optical counter had me try them on as he adjusted the ear pieces and the nose pads until they fit properly. Overall, the glasses seem very nice so far, but it will obviously take more time to see how durable the anti-scratch coating is. There was a little note card with the cleaning cloth saying that the anti-reflective coating is the most technologically advanced coating currently available - or something like that. In casual use, I can't really say that I notice much difference compared to my previous glasses, but I'll have a better sense as I have worn them longer.

I'm going to take some pictures side by side with previous glasses and I'll try to see if there are more noticeable differences. An important part of the lenses will be how easy they are to clean and keep clean, as well as how durable the anti-scratch coatings are. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to do some side-by-side comparisons.

Overall, though, they are very nice glasses and lenses. As my Zenni lenses have held up very well over the past year, I'm not sure I can say there is a noticeable difference. Nonetheless, I'm guessing the quality from Costco is superior and more importantly, Costco offers excellent customer service if there is ever a problem, while Zenni's is practically non-existent (from what I've heard).
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Postby george » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:33 pm

Neda posted an interested reply which I split to a new topic about Lenscrafters and Costco optometrists trying to push certain products.
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Postby Albertagirl » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:44 pm

I live in Alberta, Canada and have recently compared the cost of regular eye and contact exams (they are different). Let me begin by stating that the exams are for my children who are under 18, so their basic eye exam is covered by Alberta Health Care. I have contacted many optometrist offices, to find that the contact exam ranges from $25-30, depending where you go. Costco is free. Some optometrists also charge a contact fitting fee (in my small town it is $95 which prompted me to look around) while Costco does not charge a fitting fee at all. My older child has glaucoma which apparently for my local optometrist is difficult to fit, thus the cost. Last year they had to try 3 different lenses on my child, and tried to charge me $95 again after the first two lenses didn't work. We are talking about them sending him home with a new contact lens/sample for a week and a quick checkup to see if they work. Regardless, Costco does not charge a fitting fee. They told me they will re-fit him until he is happy - at no extra charge at all. Another example of excellent customer service and another reason I'm a Costco member. My co-workers purchase their glasses at Costco as well and are very satisfied and repeat customers.

Postby Guest » Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:47 pm

very informative, but i have one question does the optometry section of costco take only cash alike the rest of the store? Thanks for your time!

Postby george » Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:08 pm

When I went to Costco, the eye doctor accepted all credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard and American Express. For the glasses and lenses, though, they only accepted American Express or debit card like the rest of the store.
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Postby eyeglassesforever2117 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:50 pm

Is this only for Costco members, or can anyone go to their vision department?
My mom has a Costco card. Would that cover me or only her? We're in the same household.

Postby george » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:52 pm

You can get the eye exam without a Costco membership. To buy the glasses, you need to be a member, or have a member go into the store with you and probably be with you when you make the actual purchase as they scan the membership card when you actually purchase stuff at Costco.

You could always call your local Costco and confirm their policies.
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Postby mlthechef » Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:16 am

Never had my exam at Costco but have gotten glasses there and been very pleased with quality and price. The eye doctors at Costco are independent, as they are at most big chains, but still if you have a doctor you like, get the exam there and take the Rx to Costco to get filled. Consumer Reports rated them higher than Lenscrafters and the like for accuracy when filling the Rx. My last glasses were no line progressive bifocals, hi index lenses, polycarbonate (or whatever it's called), anti-glare coating, darken in the sun...the works including new frames. All this was for just under $300, which is a real bargain. By comparison, I recently tried a new doctor and got my glasses from their showroom. Got everything listed minus the darkening and they cost me well over $400 plus my insurance paid around $150 on top of that! Go to Costco...YOU CANNOT BEAT THEIR PRICE OR QUALITY! You do need to be a member to use the service, but it is worth it to join just for this benefit. You'll save far more than you will spend on a membership.

Postby konde888 » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:26 pm

Here is the current price (August 2011, without frames) I got from Costco Marina Del Rey, CA. Prescription Polycarbonate for medium thickness and progressive bifocal is $130. If you want top of the line including hi-index super thin, transition (darken in the sun) with polished edge you pay additional $75 for a total of $ 205. Single vision is $85. The best price anywhere maybe except online. Frames are very reasonable from $29 to $129+
Customer service is not the best and double check your receipt to make sure you understand what is included. They miss stuff.

Postby leegar » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:26 pm

If you have frames from your exiting glasses you wish to use but did not purchase from Costco, there is an additional charge of about $24. I find this strange for a consumer oriented retailer, and a waste of a good pair frames that I have already purchased last year and that are very adequate. I will not get my new prescription filled at Costco.

Postby Cyncyn » Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:35 pm

George thank you so much for all your research. It helped me a lot because I lost my only pair of glasses and I have no insurance so I have to pay for everything out of pocket but with your reviews I found the cheapest place for an eye exam and I can try to order a pair online. I live in Long Island, NY and the cheapest eye exam I found is at Costco for $49. Walmart and Lenscrafters were $55 and $170, respectively. I also wear contacts but I like to wear my glasses to rest my eyes and Costco also has the cheapest eye exams for contacts ( I think she said $100 all together). Again thank you so much for all the information you provided through your posts.
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Postby guest » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:06 pm

leegar wrote:If you have frames from your exiting glasses you wish to use but did not purchase from Costco, there is an additional charge of about $24. I find this strange for a consumer oriented retailer, and a waste of a good pair frames that I have already purchased last year and that are very adequate. I will not get my new prescription filled at Costco.

At the Costco in Naperville, IL that fee is just $18. I thought it was strange too. They also are hesitant to take embellished frames with rhinestones as they tend to get knocked out during the process. I'm waiting on my old Candies glasses to be returned as I purchased new lenses for them. I will try to repost on the experience if I get a chance.

They have frames that now go up to $189 in price (Emilio Pucci's). I had a contact fitting + eye exam for eyeglasses and paid $89 for it, not $49. I was happy with the service as Dr. Tomich (our Costco's independent optometrist) was the first eye doctor to spot my blatant astigmatism (I've had blurry vision for years and no one could "figure it out" - sad). Polycarbonate lenses cost $50 + an additional $30 for anti-glare. Though the prices are very high for the actual manufacturing costs of the products (lenses, frames, coating), the markup is lower than in most places, and I have to say again, the service is good.

Postby Virginia Customer » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:29 am

I have used Costco for years for my son's contacts and have been very satisfied with them. I also buy new lens for my glasses when my perscription changes and have them inserted into the Costco frames I bought. They have not charged me extra for this. I have only paid for the lens. I also believe that Costco prescribes contact lenses based on what is best in price and fit for your eyes while my last two experiences with "private" eye doctors is they sell contracts and give a prescription for a higher priced lens. I am a satisfied Costco customer.
Virginia Customer

Postby Shelbell » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:47 pm

I just got my eye exam done at Costco. Does anyone know if I can go elsewhere to purchase my lenses and frames? And if so, where can I go? I didn't particularly like their selection. Thanks in advance for any help!

Postby george » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:26 pm


The short answer is that you can go anywhere with your prescription to get frames and lenses.

If you are very particular about the style, then you may not want to order online unless you have seen the specific frame in advance in person. The online options are the cheapest, but the frames may not be to your liking. You could check out places like Walmart or Target if you want to stick to low price frames and lenses. You could also choose to buy just the frames at a more typical retail store like Lenscrafters which is likely to have a much larger selection and then have Costco put in the lenses as you'll get good quality lenses at Costco for a lot less money than what Lenscrafters would charge for similar types of lenses.
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Postby Kathco » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:18 am

I've been to Costco twice now for a checkup and their eye exam is thorough - more thorough than other doctors I have been to. In fact, it was there that I was told that my previous glasses were not well gaged to my prescription which I got at Lenscrafters and other department stores. Yes, you have to pay cash or debit like any other department at Costco -- years ago, they allowed credit cards at the Opth counter but no more.

Postby rahul » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:54 pm

Today I picked up prescription glasses from Costco, Brampton.
Extremely bad experience...the girls don't care about your questions or concerns...All they care is to get your money.
For a $250 purchase you would at least expect some attention from the sales person, but not at Costco Brampton optical section.
In fact, she handed over the prescription glasses in a dirty old case (probably you can get 2 of those in a $1) and when asked to change, I was told it's brand new and the best they have. I will never return there and warn others NOT TO shop at Costco Brampton optical section.
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Postby george » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:27 pm


It sounds like they have some pretty lousy staff at the Brampton Costco. I've found the Costco near me to be very customer service oriented, so clearly it really depends on the store in your area. If I were dissatisfied, I'd send feedback to Costco headquarters. I think Brampton is in Canada, so I think the way to send comments directly to Costco Canada headquarters would be through this link.

Hopefully at least you found the glasses to be good quality.
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Postby Bill » Wed May 16, 2012 12:15 pm

I have bought several pairs of glasses over the past few years. Recently, I lost my sun glasses on a trip to North Africa and needed to replace them when I returned to Tampa. My old glasses were tinted bi-focals in Maui Jim frames. I shopped in local designer frames shops and priced similar but cheaper glasses at COSTCO. Retain (high end shops) priced my glasses at approx. 700.00. COSTCO price came in just below 300. I am so unhappy with the quality of the COSTCO frames I am going back and buying the higher end glasses. The quality of the lenses is terrible and the frames are coming apart in just a few months of careful wearing. The screws keep loosening up and the frame springs apart when the screw pups out. I am planning a trip out of the country for a few months and I need reliable glasses. I am so disapointed with the quality of the COSTCO frames my experiment will now cost me approx. 1,0000 dollars vis 700. Will not happen again. :evil:

Postby eli » Sun May 20, 2012 3:09 pm

I picked up my glasses from Costco Optical on Staten Island about a week ago and am absolutely satisfied. I got Bebe frames, single vision, anti-glare, anti-scratch, transition lenses for a total of$184.97. They took exactly one week from ordering to pick up. This was after returning two pairs of similar glasses to Target, which cost $365 with a half price lens sale. The first was scratched and the second were not fit properly. The staff at Costco was professional and helpful. I did not have my eyes examined at Costco, so can't comment on the doctor. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with the quality and the price and will definitely be returning for my next pair.

Postby Wilbur » Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:51 am

I recently had my first experience with Costco Optical and overall, it was not good. The eye exam was quite good and one of the techs in the Optical Department was extremely helpful but the others were not. One was so bad she actually made me angry which rarely happens. I learned what they call progressives are really no-line trifocals and they either don't know, or won't admit to knowing the difference between the two. The no-line trifocals had such a narrow focal point on the intermediate lenses, only a character or two would be in focus on either side of the focal point. The reading lens was not much better. A word or less would be in focus on either side of that focal point. Because the focal point was so narrow, the distance I was required to hold what I was reading had to be exact in order for both eyes to be in focal point. The same was also true for the long distance lenses, although not as noticeable. Because of the distortion beyond the focal point, the glasses would literally make me feel nausea in my gut and lightheaded if I was doing anything outside including walking and driving.

I talked to them three times about returning the glasses before they took them on return the fourth time. To their credit they stated, and may have sincerely believed, I was having difficulty adjusting to, "progressives" (as they called them). This occurred over six weeks of time. When they did take the glasses back I opted for lined tri-focals. I believed what they had said about my difficulting in adjusting to these glasses. The new glasses have varying focal points and distortions in different parts of the lenses. For example on both the right and left distances lenses, the point most in focus is at the very top inside of the lens. As my eyes move away from this point objects become more or less blurry across the lens. It's different from the left eye to the right. The intermediate right lens is more clear closer to the top and bottom of the lens and it is the opposite with the left lens. The reading lenses are similar to the distance lenses. My eyes hurt while wearing them and I believe they contribute to my headaches. Because it is very obvious to me it is the glasses and not me, I will attempt to return these glasses for a cash refund (it is Costco after all).

Many have stated they have no problem using Costco and I believe that to be the case, although I do have one friend that has had the anti-reflective coating peel off three times within three years (yes he cares for them properly). In my case I have never been able to wear cheap glasses, even before I needed corrective lenses. When I was making $3.10 an hour I still had to spend $60 on sunglasses. I have never been able to tolerate distortions in lenses. In my opinion, these Costco lenses are poorly made. If you can tolerate $10 sunglasses from K-Mart, you'll likely be fine with Costco lenses. If not, I would recommend avoiding any high-volume or warehouse optical departments.

Postby Carrie » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:55 am

Great info. Does anyone know if you can bring your old frames to costco and have them put in new lenses?

Postby george » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:00 am

My local Costco will replace the lenses on frames you bought elsewhere, as long as they are not completely rimless frames and as long as they are in decent condition (not curved). They charge $18 to replace the lenses and the lenses are still $74. Interestingly, that is the same price as when I started this thread almost 3 years ago.
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Postby Petite_Miss_P » Mon May 06, 2013 10:40 pm

Thanks so much for this updated information!
I just came from Kaiser Permanente where I have limited optical insurance under my "High" option.
My deductible is $10 for the eye exam including dilation, which is great.
Here's the quote I got for lenses only, since my titanium "rimless" Sillouette frames are perfect:
Polycarbonate single vision; anti-reflective; transition lenses...... $202.50.
I'll be going to Costco to try for the Drivewear lenses for $124. Based on the comment on Sept 11, 2012, they may not create the lenses for me. Thankfully, I do have other old frames that I like.

Postby Guest » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:18 pm

I have used Costco for years for glasses and they do take insurance. Of course some insurance companies may not have Costco in their network but all you have to do is ask the optical clerk and they will let you know if they are contracted with your vision insurance.

Postby LarryB34695 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:00 pm

While I appreciate the time that went into your review, I have a different perspective. My Costco lenses (3 pairs over 12 months!) have ALL done very badly with respect to durability. I have really never had an issue with durability on my (optician purchased) lenses. Two of the Costco pairs are slightly scratched. and one seems to be permanently stained from drywall dust. I am completely over Costco lenses. The Crizal Avance lenses I am ordering are scratch resistant, and carry a 2+ year warranty for that. Costco doesn't offer a scratch resistant lens. Enough said...never again, Costco.

Postby george » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:13 pm


Thank youf or sharing your experience with Costco lenses. I'm surprised to hear you had so much trouble with the lenses scratching and getting stained from drywall dust, and that you didn't have problems with lenses you got from a private eye doctor. The Costco lenses do include an anti-scratch coating. I haven't seen any objective comparisons of the durability, such as COLTS scores for the Costco lenses, but the Crizal Avance are extremely durable. My own glasses from Costco never scratched, and I wore them daily for over a year before replacing them. I was fairly careful with them, always rinsing them with water before cleaning them with a microfiber cloth. I'm curious if there is something in your lifestyle that is particularly rough on glasses.

I know that Costco is typically very good about their products. I assume you took them back when they scratched and they replaced them for free? You'll have to update us once you get your crizal avance coated lenses and let us know how they hold up over the next year.
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Postby ACHUANG822 » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:33 pm

Today I made a appointment for my eye exam at Costco. They told me the exam cost will be $85 because I am not a senior, is that expensive ?

Postby george » Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:19 pm


$85 for a basic eye exam seems high to me, but it depends on what is included. The Costco eye doctors are independent from the store, so they set their prices to whatever they want. Typically, at least near me, they keep their prices pretty close to anything else around here. That is usually around $50-60 for a basic eye exam. There is an extra charge for dilating your eyes to do an exam and an extra charge if they do visual field exams. That would make the price around $85. Also, there will be an extra charge if you are going to be ordering contact lenses.
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Postby verymyopic » Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:01 pm

How good are their progressive, hi-index lenses for prescriptions over -7.5?

Postby george » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:45 pm


I don't have any personal experience with Costco progressives, and I don't know enough about how good progressives would be for that level of negative. From what I have been able to find out, in the past Costco used Essilor Ovation progressive lenses and I've also seen they have used Essilor Accolade, but it seems most of this information came from people who worked at Costco as they don't currently say what make of lenses they use. I am also guessing that they change over time based on the technology and what they can get at a good cost. Overall, I would think that you would get a decent lens (but not the best) at a very good price at Costco. You should call your local Costco and see what they say, and also find out if they have any policy if you aren't able to adjust to the lenses.

Please let me know what you find out and regardless of where you get your lenses, I'm always interested in more feedback.
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Postby verymyopic » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:47 pm

Thanks for your answer. I just purchased high end glasses, but I think I may go to our local Costco, purchase a pair and compare. If they are just as good, it would save me a HUGH amount!

Postby uchu » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:01 pm

I just ordered my transitions lenses from the local Costco, in Markham (ON). The service was OK, although it took forever (only 1 person attending in a busy Monday morning). I had use Costco years back, at a different location in Canada, and I was pretty happy with the overall experience. In my opinion, they take a very long time to get them ready (10-14 business days). It's OK for me, as I have spares, and my eye prescription has not changed much. But I still think it's way too long a wait to get your glasses ready. So, if you are in a hurry to get your new glasses done, Costco optical is not your place.

Postby momof3 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:18 pm

I live in Kansas and we don't have a Costco here and I am going to be in Colorado at the end of the month where there is one.. And I am in need of a eye exam I currently don't have vision insurance so its all out of pocket and the places here cost from 175.00-214.00 for the basic eye exam. And I was wanting to know if I can go there even if I live in another state and if I need a membership? My sister in law has one.. Thanks
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Postby george » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:49 pm


When I checked with my local Costco a few years ago, they said non-members can get eye exams there, but you need to be a member (or with a member) in order to purchase eyeglasses.

I would highly suggest you call in advance to the Costco near where you're going, both to confirm that is their policy as well as to make an appointment in advance.

The price you are quoting for an eye exam seems quite high. Does that include a contact lens fitting, which is more expensive?
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Postby momof3 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:01 am

No it does not include contact part of the exam just eye glasses. And my last prescription was only good for a year and I could have sworn that they are usually good for 2. I just need something cheaper.
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Postby janine in GVille » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:38 am

I just had my eye exam in Carson City Nevada. The exam was $84.00. I ordered glasses and this was the breakdown: Frames $59.00, Lenses $49.00 and they automatically put the protective coating on the lenses (they did not ask me) for another $39.00. Hope this is helpful to people in my area. February 10, 2014
janine in GVille

Postby retiredteacher » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:14 pm

I purchased a pair of Progressives a few years ago at Costco that I could not adjust to...It was totally my fault not the quality or manufacture of the lenses. Costco replaced my progressives twice trying to make it work for me. I finally decided to go with 2 pair of single vision lens. No hassle, no problem. Just this month I tried a pair of lined bifocals lenses which were $39.99...still no I went back to 2 pair of the single vision glasses. They replaced the bifocal lenses with two pair of single vision lenses ($19.99 each). If the lenses are less on the replacement they refund the difference. I have tried other places before Costco over the years where I paid more and did not get anything better. The Optometrist and the optical help that will fit your glasses have been the same people for turnover in help...and all are very helpful and capable. I had a lens in a rimless frame get a chip at the side and they replaced the lenses at no cost to me. I have used Costco for many years and have always been more than happy with both the product, the service and the guarantee. :D

Postby Fawn » Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:55 pm

My name is Fawn and I am the Dr's optical technician at Costco optical in Charleston SC. I wanted to update the page on the current price of the all eye exams. First of all I would like to offer we have had the same staff since 2004. Our Dr's strive to provide full medical services as well as vision. Included in the price of the exams are refraction, dilation, visual field testing, any specialized instruction for new glasses or contact lens wearers, and follow up appointments (if needed) for up to 60 days.
Exam: 82.00
Spherical Contact lens exam: 118.00
Astigmatism Contact lens Exam: 133.00
Multifocal/ Monovision Contact lens Exam: 148.00
Office visit for injury or eye irritation: 47.00 and up (depending on the severity of the issue)
Retinal Imaging service to any exam (optional): 19.00

We are an independent service from Costco that is only interested in providing the highest quality vision services available. We are always accepting new patients. Please call Costo Optical 843-460-2000 ext 241 to schedule an appointment with Dr Devin McKinney, OD., or one of the other participating Dr's at this location.

Postby ghy7824 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:25 pm

Regarding price, I just called Costco Naperville optical department and was told the exam price is $54 for a regular exam (this is on 2/21/2014). Price varies by location apparently?

Postby Sweepergurl » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:02 pm

Just received three Nine West frames purchased from Woot! Planning to order lenses from Costco (2 progressives (Transitions) and 1 sunglass). How much should I expect to pay in the Chicagoland area?

Postby george » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:03 am

<edited 11/4/14 to updated prices>


Prices may vary somewhat from store to store, but based on other people's comments, it seems the ChicagoLand area generally charges around $20 to put lenses into frames you bring in, so figure around $18-25 per frames you bring in, plus the following:

Digital HD Progressives - polycarbonate around $130 (includes antiglare and anti-scratch), high index around $200

Transitions - add $30, or $45 if high index.

I'm not sure how much tinting the lenses will cost to make sunglasses. If you go ahead and have Costco put in the lenses, please let us know what you paid and whether you are happy with the result.
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Postby Spectical » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:02 pm

I'm in WA in the puget sound area and just returned from a costco optical visit.

The exam was $75. They did ask if they were billing insurance, but sadly I don't have the coverage. But $75 isn't too bad.

The frames + lenses + lens treatment (anti glare etc) ran about $160

Postby JerryM » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:22 am

Hi Spectical,
Were your lenses single vision?
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Postby Ken H » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:13 am

I lost my glasses in a traffic accident and needed new ones.

I got my eyes examined by a doctor of Optometry at a Pearl Vision, who I've gone to for over 10 years and I trust completely. The exam was $69 and with my insurance the total out of pocket was $5. At Pearl Vision the lens for progressive, 1.67 hi index and Endure Ez anti reflective (their recommendation) was $560, after insurance they came to $232. The frame I wanted was wire rim titanium (Flexon), spring loaded temples, with mag clip polarized sun glasses. The price after insurance was $213. The total for the glasses was $445.

One of the major surprises for me was that Costco now accepts most brands of vision insurance. Excellent!

The optical service at Costco was very good, excellent as it turned out. I had already shopped around for the frame style I wanted so it was easy to see if Costco had something comparable, which they did. But, the closest Costco to me did not have the type of lens the optical service person recommended for me; their new digital progressive. So, they sent me to another Costco which was about 30 minutes away, not a problem for me.

Costco has a very limited selection of the particular type of frame I wanted, but I was lucky and found exactly what I was looking for. The total for the same lens spec and frame spec was $135 after insurance; a savings of $305. The optical service person at Costco said the AR treatment was relatively new and the best on the market at this time. They also said the particular lens I got was also new to Costco, digital progressive with UV protection and scratch resistant hard coat.

My previous pair of glasses were also progressive and had the Crizal Alize which have UV protection and are extremely resistant to dirt, dust, smudges, etc. When I first got them I could not believe how clean they stayed during everyday use.

I've had the Costco glasses for two months and couldn't be happier.They don't stay quite as clean as the Crizal did, but they are much better than any other lens I've had over the last 40 years of wearing glasses.
Ken H

Postby guest » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:00 pm

I just checked a Costco in Fremont, CA

The plastic lens is $58 single vision
Polycarbonate lens $73 single vision
Progressive polycarbnate lens $130.

My insurance is VSP. Costco is not in the network. It will be reimbursed as out network. Costco takes care all paper work.
My insurance plan covers $40 for single vision lens, and $80 for progressive lens for out network.

Overall the price from Costco is still lower than a couple of local stores(in VSP network) that I checked. They usually mark up frames and upgrade a lot.
I was told that I have to add $52 to get polycabonate lens, and may have to pay additional for anti-glare and scratch resistant.

The only draw back at Costco is that it has limited number of frame selection. If I can find the frame that I like, it is better than VSP providers.

Postby Kristi » Thu May 08, 2014 2:53 pm

Thank you so much for the update. I was looking for info on whether this price was valid for costco members only or not.
Ive gotten glasses in the past from them and yes. Very good quality exams, lenses and cost.

Postby Gisele » Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:20 pm

Hi, I went to Walmart today for ordering my single vision lenses ( hight index, transition, anti-reflection, roll-polished edges, scratch and impact resistant lenses ) and they cost me $279. I use my own frame so they might have charged me the extra $24 for that. I wonder how much will it costs if I get the same lenses at Costco? Has anyone ordered the same lense ?

Postby george » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:33 pm

As of a year ago, the price was around $70 for the high index (1.67) single vision lenses, add $30 for anti-reflective coating, and Transitions photochromic is $45 on their high index lenses. The price includes anti-scratch and UV protection. I don't know whether it includes roll-polished edges or not. Other people reported that Costco charges $18 if you bring your own frames. I know that prices for the eye exam vary by location, but I don't know how much prices for lenses may vary.

So, the total based on my calculations would be around $163 at Costco. Even if their prices have gone up since then, it would still be markedly lower than Walmart's price, assuming the features are comparable.
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Postby cassgirl » Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:45 pm

My glasses just broke. The lenses are ok but the frames are nit. I bought them from Costco. Do you know if I can purchase a pair of frames from the that day and have them put the lenses in? Thanks.

Postby squid3 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:13 am

I found this thread interesting. I am a 24 year vet, (Navy). I have started a new career to become an dispensing optician. It's a great field. I started working in this field about a year ago and have looked at "discount" stores, private DR's and places that are in between. The DR's are trained the same and give the same exams. Some insurances are accepted at places that other's aren't. At all of the in between eye places and the private practice locations, I saw a mark up of over 10 times what I saw for the same frames and lens at the discount places. The exam may be cheaper by $15 to $50, but the real cost is the materials. I saw, in this thread that Costco offers a lens that basic lens that has UV protection, but it costs extra for the anti-scratch coat. After you pay for the scratch coat, you pay more than where I work. Costco does not offer a "FREE" year warranty on the frames or for gouges in the lenses. Where I work does. This includes children's frames, too. It doesn't cover loss or simple scratches, but more than covers what most folks need. Also, if your prescription isn't quite right and your DR changes your prescription within 60 days of your exam, where I work, will replace the lenses for free. There is no cost for any of these services. Where I work we have over 300 male frames, over 400 female frames, almost 100 sunglass frames ( prescription ready), 40 safety glass frames and over 120 children's frames to choose from. The average cost of an adult frame is $68, sunglasses average $38, safety glasses average $78 and the average children's frame cost $38. Our basic lens comes with UV protection, anti-scratch, no glare, and impact resistant. It is a polycarbonate, much better than plastic, for adults it is $110 for 2 lenses. For children's glasses, it is $49. For safety glasses it is $90 and for sunglasses, with polarisazion, it is $60 for two lenses. In most cases, a person can get a single vision set of glasses for well under $200 (insurance may help this even more). A pair of lined bifocals will be out the door at about $210 and a set of progressives will be about $250. Yes, we offer transitions and other lens that cost less and more, but this is the lens we sell the most and what most folks want and need. Costco can't touch Walmart in quality, selection, price or guarantee. I have looked at many places and the best prices, selection, quality and guarantee are given at Walmart. I am not on commission and get nothing for posting this, but this thread is very misleading.

Postby Guest » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:04 pm

leegar wrote:If you have frames from your exiting glasses you wish to use but did not purchase from Costco, there is an additional charge of about $24. I find this strange for a consumer oriented retailer, and a waste of a good pair frames that I have already purchased last year and that are very adequate. I will not get my new prescription filled at Costco.

It's not strange at all. What happens if they accidentally break or damage the frames - they will have to replace them. The additional charge is likely similar to an insurance policy against damage.

I am glad I found that out - I may actually have them use my current frames the next time I need new lenses!

Postby Guest » Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:59 pm

My local Costco charges $18 to use your own frame. The cost is actually to measure and make a template for cutting the lenses that will go into your frames. They already know the measurements of all their frames that they sell. When you use your own frame the lens measurements will be a little different from anything they have in their system so it's more work to process your frame.

Postby Guest » Sat Nov 01, 2014 11:58 pm

@ squid3

:lol: :?
Thank you for your service, but...
Sheesh, what a generalism. "Costco can't touch Walmart..."

Quality... as you said, Dr's wth same training, same exams.
Selection... perhaps correct. Good for Wally.
Price... LoL. Costco's exam "cheaper by $15 to $50" ...sounds pretty good to me. And at least three posts previous to yours also have a complete pair of glasses with UV protect and anti-scratch for "well under $200". Maybe Wally's getting kind of touchy about that.
Guarantee... Costco has the best return policy in the land. How's that for a generalism?

Postby guest » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:09 pm

How is this thread misleading? Or the better question, what are people here misleading you on? All people are doing are posting actual costs/experiences at their Costco Optical locations. There aren't many opinions going on here. They all seem to be fact/evidence based.

Postby guest2 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:47 pm

Eye exam for gas permeable contact lenses = $154 (not $79). Beware.

Postby george » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:33 pm


The prices for eye exams and contact exams are much more of a regional thing and prices do seem to vary based on location. It might be helpful if you could add your general location, as that is a big percentage difference compared to my area.

The eyeglass and lens prices seem to be the same nationally, at least as far as I can tell so far.
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Postby OtoSan Kangai Nasai » Wed Dec 31, 2014 2:21 am

I admit to being prejudiced on this subject because my cousin has been an independent OD at Costco for many years. While I, personally, have never been examined by him, almost all of my relatives swear by him. Obviously, so do many satisfied returning customers in this rather high-tone community.

With regard to the frames/lenses: Costco generally does not display or sell the most current or designer eyewear. They may have a small collection of a designer brand (3 or 4 styles in a separate showcase) but the bread and butter are the frames known in the industry as "closeouts." We know them as last year's or older frames and there is a lot of profit to be made as they are purchased "right" and in bulk by Costco's buyers. That being said, if you don't need the latest Gucci or Armani frame, let Costco make a profit while you buy for 1/3 of optical shop retail.

I recently priced the primo progressive combination at Costco...anti-reflective, UV, High index, thin lenses (of course no-line). Last year, with my own frames, I paid over $500 at my local optical shop. Costco quoted $160 + (maybe) an additional charge if the template was not included with my frames. I checked with several other customers, all of whom have a higher "minus" than I, thus needing the same quality of lenses; all satisfied and coming back for more. It appears that Costco has raised the quality of its optical goods over the years, so much so that, while almost anyone would order a single vision prescription for C, those of us with requiring concise and comfortable fittings would almost always go with the OD's or MD's shop to be guaranteed a quality fit and product. So this week, I am taking the plunge and bringing my Joseph Abboud designer frames purchased online for $82 to my cousin's Costco for the $160 package instead of paying the optical shop almost $200 for the frame plus another $500 for the lenses. I shall report back re: the success of my venture!
OtoSan Kangai Nasai

Postby anew » Thu Jan 01, 2015 4:41 pm

Are there Optometrists at Costco Optical? Or, are their services just for eye glasses?

Postby george » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:52 pm

Mr. Nasai,

I look forward to hearing your opinion of the high index progressive lenses from Costco. I have a fairly low prescription, so no need for high index, but I've been wearing Costco progressive lenses for the past few weeks. I'm very pleased with them, but I only have the Zenni progressive lenses to compare them with. While the Zenni lenses served me fine for the past year at an amazing price, the Costco lenses are seeming far better. The more I get used to them, the bigger the improvement is over the Zenni lenses. I hope you have as good of an experience as I did. As for the price of the frames, I did notice they are now displaying several premium designer frames inside the case where the opticians work. At some point if I have time, I'll put together another post with more details on what they have. The cases I saw were mostly women's frames, and some unisex, with prices up to around $250. The frames I picked out were $60, and seem about as nice as the frames I got from a private optometrists office for $199 a few years back.


All of the Costco Vision centers I've seen have an independent optometrist. When I was there a few weeks ago, the optometrist said she's been there for many years and prior to that had worked in a variety of settings and likes this the best. She said they don't ask her to push any products and pretty much leave her alone to see the patients and answer their questions. I told her my prior pair was bought online, and she asked which store as she's heard of many of them. Unlike most optometrists I've come across, she didn't badmouth Zenni at all and said they clearly are providing a product that meets a certain need.
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Postby Dori » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:22 pm

I just scheduled my annual exam at the local Costco (in Cali), apparently there's a new optometrist and the cost went up from 79 to 99 for exam with contacts. Just glasses went up from 49 to 69. With dilation it will be 129! I'm super bummed about the price hike.

Postby guest2002 » Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:44 am

My husband and I have been very pleased with the value and quality of Costco lenses in the past. I cannot use the independent optician/optometrist adjacent to my Costco as I have to have exams by an ophthalmologist annually due to a medical condition, so my cost comparison does not include the cost of an eye exam.

The most recent cost comparison I've received as of March, 2015 includes "the works" - high index progressive lenses, anti-reflective, anti-glare, scratch-resistant, etc.:

Independent eyewear storefront: $538 including Bellagio frames priced at $169.99

Costco eyewear department: $230 including Vera Wang frames priced at $89.99

No-brainer. Costco wins again.

Postby NAT » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:40 pm

I called my local Costco and apparently I can purchase lenses from them, but they won't put the lenses in the frames. Did any one else have this problem? Any cheap places I could go to to have this done?

Postby george » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:03 pm


That is very odd that they would sell you lenses but not put them in your frames. Do you have unusual frames that they are concerned they can't do it, or are they worried the frames may crack? I know my local Costco said they would charge $18 if I brought my own frames, unless the frames were originally bought at Costco - then they have no extra charge. Did they give you a reason why they wouldn't do it? Maybe try calling another Costco in the area and see if they will do it.
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Postby kruske » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:55 pm

Perhaps the prices for exams are not standard since there are different markets and the optical department is independent of Costco. The contact exam where I live costs much more then $75 at my Costco. It is $115. If you are limited in your funds I would definitely call about prices before going.

Postby Crizal » Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:32 am

This is an interesting thread to which I can contribute few points. Please take it as an informational post.

1) Most discount stores including costco buy closeout frames (discontinued, out of fashion, non selling models etc) in bulk. If the frame breaks after a while, you may not find the same frame again and might have to buy new lenses to go with that new frame. How do the discount stores handle those cases?
2) Lens models/technologies used by discount stores are older technologies and not on par with the quality of the lenses with the latest technology available on the market. Most places including private optical locations can offer lenses of similar quality as discount stores for more or less the same price. They dont offer those lenses because of low margins and the need to sell volume to make a viable profit. Instead they distinguish themselves by offering higher quality products which may cost more.
3) Ovation and similar lenses are often used by discount stores. Those lenses use designs/technology introduced in 80's and 90's. There are numerous advances in lens designs and fabricating technologies. Newer lenses like Shamir Autograph III, Zeiss Individual, Hoya lifestyle etc provide a better overall lens for your visual needs. Imagine using a cellphone designed in 80's now.
4) Same with AR coatings like Endura etc They are old technologies. Newer coatings like Crizal Sapphire, Crizal Avance, Zeiss Purecoat etc provide much better non glare coatings and last longer. You dont need any prescription to benefit from non glare coatings. If you drive at night or use digital devices like smartphone, tv, computer etc, you will see the difference with and without quality coatings.
5) Vision plans like VSP mandate the copays you pay with an in-network provider. They remain the same irrespective of which in-network provider you go to. For example for the most common VSP plan (signature), Avance will cost the same co-pay at any VSP provider.

You get what you pay for is true in almost anything you purchase in life. You can get a meal at a fastfood location for under $10 or you can get a meal in a nice restaurant for a higher price. The quality and experience of the meal is certainly different at each location. We base our purchasing decisions based on what is important to each of us and being informed will allow you to make it an informed decision.

Postby george » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:46 am


Thank you for the comments as I think it makes for useful discussion. It is a bit beyond the scope of a "Costco" specific thread. If the discussion continues, I may move it to its own thread. There are a few threads here already about private optometrists vs places like Costco or Lenscrafters.

First, I'm curious based on your username if you have employment related to Crizal? If you don't mind sharing, what is your current occupation as I'm assuming it relates to the eye care industry.

To respond to your specific points, justifying why I continue to prefer getting my eyeglasses from Costco:

1. I hadn't considered this, but I guess I've been lucky that in the approximately 7 years that I've been wearing glasses, I've never had a pair of frames break. I tend to get new glasses every one to two years as my prescription continues to change slightly, especially as my near vision continues to worsen as I get older. If my frames did break, I'm not sure I'd look to save my lenses at that point. If I'm not about due for a new pair of glasses, I'd probably order a cheap pair from a place like Zenni to tied me over. Or, I'd just pay for new lenses with the new frames. The cost at Costco compared to a private optometrist is less than half, so I'm still coming out ahead if I need to replace my frames and lenses twice a year.

2. First, I'm not convinced the "newest" technologies are clearly better than other recent lenses. Some of the newest options seem to be a bit gimmicky and it'll be interesting to see if it sticks (customizing the lens to multiple different measurements may make a difference, but it seems that the extra measurements may only help a small fraction of people and that using average measurements works fine for a majority of people - I'll change my opinion when someone shows me a good study - unfortunately most companies keep their research private). Also, Costco seems to have fairly recent technology that they are using. They claim that their Kirkland Signature HD Progressive lens uses free form technology, with digitally surfaced lenses, customized on both surfaces. I'd love to see some studies showing that anything beyond that actually improves vision for most people. Without that, I'm not convinced.

3. You mention Ovation and similar being used at discount stores. It looks like Costco is using their own proprietary lenses, and they claim they are free form, digital progressives, which is similar to the technology in other top progressives (I think). Any differences beyond that may just be marketing hype, or only impact a small number of users. Again, I'd be curious to see some real studies comparing the two, rather than just marketing gimmicks, or just theoretical claims. In August 2014, an optician posted in the Walmart thread that their top progressive is a Nikon customized progressive using digital technology. They are more expensive than the Costco progressives, but my point is that the most popular discount stores are now offering newer technology options.

4. I've already covered my opinions on anti-reflective coatings several times including a dedicated thread to the Crizal Avance that I tried. My opinion is that many of the advantages are theoretical. While there may be some superiority in the lab, I wasn't able to see that translate to anything I could notice in day to day wear. All of my glasses with anti-reflective coatings perform about the same - whether from Zenni for around $5, or Costco included in their low price, or the Crizal Avance which added around $140 to the cost of my lenses. One of these days I will have to make a video testing the three. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do it right now.

5. I'm not sure why it is important that the price is the same regardless of which VSP provider you go to. I went to a private optometrist who was part of the Eye Med insurance I have, and I still had to pay about $140 extra for the Crizal anti-reflective coating. I'm curious what people pay for a Crizal coating through VSP, compared to the price of the Costco lenses with a high quality anti-reflective coating.

I do agree that often in life, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, you often get far less than what you paid for because people are ripping you off. If you are lucky, you may be able to get more than what you paid for. My purpose here is to help people find those situations and avoid getting ripped off. The more people share their experiences, the better informed people will be.
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Postby glasseslover » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:03 pm

Date: 04/2015

I just called Costco (California) about getting prescribed polarized sun lenses. I already have eye exam done elsewhere and have a pair of sunglasses frame.

Polarized anti-reflective sun lenses:
Polycarbonate lenses cost $80;
High-index lenses (for higher prescription, I have 4.25) cost $110.

Takes 7-10 days to process.

Postby Giovangee » Sat May 09, 2015 9:05 pm

They changed their policy of many years this last November. Said they were breaking too many of other peoples frames and so corporate stopped the service. Quite a shame since the work was really good. :(

Postby Kitty » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:47 am

Just got back from my local Costco (in Southern California) to get my lenses done. They do still allow you to bring in your own frames, at least at my Costco. However, I believe they are more selective about which ones they can do.

High Index 1.67 lenses cost about $115: $75 for the high index itself, $30 for anti-reflective treatment, $10 for edge polish. Add another $18 for bringing in my own frames brings the total to $133.

At my local optometrist, the high index costs $120 alone - no UV protection, anti-glare or anything & it would've been $180 if I wasn't so friendly and talkative! lol

Postby Owlbet » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:00 pm

For the past twenty five years we have been using a local optometrist and have found the quality and attitude sliding downhill -- while his prices go higher and higher -- each time we go there. We've been unhappy for a few years now and after the most recent fiasco, we threw up our hands in disgust. I started searching for an alternative.

Based on a recommendation of Costco glasses from people we know, I googled for info and found this site. I've spent the last few days reading through many of the posts here and found a LOT of really useful information. Thank you so much, george, for spending the time and energy to keep this forum running and up-to-date!

We went to Costco here on Long Island (NY) and as of July 14, 2015 this is the pricing for some of their services:

Eye exam costs $60 and includes the refraction, eye pressure check (puff of air), and -- I may have heard this wrong -- ALSO the visual field test.
Eye exam with pupil dilation is an additional $30 for a total of $90.

Lined Bifocal Polycarbonate Lenses, including prism correction (up to +6), scratch resistance, and UV protection is $60
Add an extra $30 for Anti-Reflect.

Lenses in an existing frame - they will do it if the frame is not damaged in any way; so if the frame is in good condition, the cost is $18.

They will also accept a prescription from a non-Costco-located doctor.

Postby Nearsightedness » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:35 pm

I go to ophthalmologist due to ongoing eye issues. I recently purchased a great pair of glasses at at an optometrist.. Cost for progressive lenses, polycarbonate, new Flexon frames and Transitions was over $600, out of pocket with VSP was about $280. Hadn't purchases glasses since cataract surgery 6 years ago and was shocked. Great glasses but the mark ups are unacceptable so I started doing a LOT of Internet research on frames and lenses.

I bought a pair of Burberry plastic frames as a back up on eBay. Cost $62.00! Went to a metro Detroit Costco yesterday and ordered progressive lenses and Transitions for $160. I'll report back when they come in. This will be a pair of glasses with a high retail cost set of frames and Costco lenses so we'll see how they compare to the new Flexon glasses I purchased aa month ago.

Note--I spent a lot of time researching this topic to ensure proper frame sizing and to obtain realistic lense costs. I took the sizing from my new glasses and found several Internet sites that sold the same Flexon frames for $120 or less versus the optometrist office cost of $217. I'm also very familiar with eBay so that helps a llot but once you understand what you need, you can save a lot of money.

Postby george » Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:33 pm


Thank you very much for sharing your information and experience. I look forward to hearing your opinion of the Costco lenses. If you can also say what brand progressives lenses you have in your Flexon frames, if you know, I'd appreciate it for comparison sake. I don't want this thread to get too far off track, so depending on where this goes, I may move some of the posts and topics to a separate thread. Your comments raise several more questions in my mind.

First, I had not heard of Flexon before. I'm a fairly frugal minded person and not very fashion savvy. I did look at the Flexon website and on first glance, I thought one of their designs looked similar to the $10 frames I got from Zenni. Watching their videos, though, I can see that the craftsmanship looks top notch. I'm not sure how much is excellent marketing and promotion, but I have to say the photos and videos are beautiful.

Second, I always worry when buying name brand stuff off eBay or even some websites that I'm looking at counterfeit products. Again, I think this warrants its own thread, but how can you best assure that the product you are buying is genuine? At some point I'll try to do some research on this and create a separate post.
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Postby mfp5722 » Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:13 am

I had previously, about 2 years ago, tried a pair of progressive glasses and it didn't work out. I tried using them for several weeks but I kept getting headaches and it was very hard to use a computer monitor, which I need to do all day at work. I finally gave up and went back to using readers.

At my last eye checkup my doctor said that maybe I should try progressives one more time. Since my last try was such a failure I decide to do a bit of research first. The last time I purchased about the cheapest progressives available. After doing some research I had concluded that that was part of my problem. It seems there is quite a difference between the low end and the new better ones. I had concluded that if I really wanted using progressives to have a chance I was going to have to go to some place like LensCrafters and spend $500 to $1,000. I really couldn't afford that much but I really wanted the progressives to work. It is about then that I came across this forum thread. I had always thought of glasses from department stores etc. as low end, but after reading all the positive comments here and a bit more in other places I decide to give the Costco progressives a try. I had already learned that there is a difference between office/computer progressives and regular ones. Since I spend most of my work day in front of a monitor I decide to get a pair of office/computer progressives and a pair of regular ones.

I have had them for about a month and so far I am VERY happy. I spent weeks trying to get use to the old pair and never did. This pair hardly took any getting use to at all. Before I had to constantly play the game of 'pointing my nose' & 'adjusting my gaze'. For the most part I haven't had to do any of that with either of my new Costco pairs. Using them seems very natural. I simple look at what I want to look at as I naturally would and most of the time that puts my eyes in the right area of the glasses to have the proper focus.

The computer/office ones work great for when I am at work. I switch to my regular ones if I am going to be away from my computer for a while, like in a meeting, but for computer use and working with people right next to me they work great. I should also say that the regular ones work fine with my computer for short periods of time, but I always switch to the computer/office glasses if I am going to be more then a few minutes in front of a monitor.

I would highly recommend them.
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Postby Nearsightedness » Sat Jul 25, 2015 4:13 pm


The expensive set of Flexon frames have Varilux lenses per the receipt but I'm not sure what version of Varilux. I believe they have a Crizal AR coating and Transitions. As I said, they are nice, were purchased at a local optical shop that takes VSP. I consider them "full cost" at just over $600 for a simple, straight forward perscription (1.25 diaptors per eye, minimal astigmatism).

I like Flexon frames. The previous frame was my daily pair of glasses for about a year before cataract surgery and almost 5 years after before the bridge snapped about two months ago. After surgery, the excellent optician at the doctor's office fitted the original Flexon's with new lenses. I don't take them off much and are very careful with them since I used to have very expensive glasses to correct a severe myopia condition before surgery. I swung by a glasses shop the day of the break(not the place I bought the new ones) and obtained a new Flexon 610 frame (the same frame) on sale. I was lucky. At that point I decided to get a new pair of glasses even though the lenses are in good shape.

As for eBay, I'm careful to obtain authentic merchandise. I have purchased a number of electronic items for a small business I own so I checked eBay for frames. eBay sellers (and Amazon as well) obtain some great merchansise that might be surplus. Amazon is another great place to shop. The frames I purchased were certified authentic by sellers that had high ratings and large volumes of business.

Postby Nearsightedness » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:21 pm

I've had my new glasses with Costco Kirkland Signature hd progressive lenses with Traditions for a couple of days. The lenses are good--very close to the Varilux polycarbonate with Transitions and a basic Crizal AR coating. I am very pleased with the Costco lenses.

They cost $159.99 versus about $380.00 for the Varilux lenses. The Costco optician made some minor adjustments to the designer frames I mentioned previously that were purchased on eBay for $60.00. Total cost was $220 for a pair of glasses with a high quality plastic designer frame (Burberry) and an excellent set of Costco lenses that fit great and provide comparable performance levels to a good Varilux based set of glasses. The other pair was just over $600 at a good local optometrist optical shop. That pair was actually about $280 out of pocket with VSP insurance.

Bottom line--much better value at Costco. And my Costco takes VSP, which I learned after going to the optical shop for the first pair. My next pair will be purchased at Costco. Note--my prescription is simple since cataract surgery. Not sure how Costco does with complex prescriptions like I used to have.

Postby Nearsightedness » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:07 pm

Correction to last post---after more time with the Costco lenses, I can't really tell any difference between them and the Varilux lenses. They are very good.

Postby VicMont » Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:46 pm

The cost for a contact eye exam at our local Costco in Albuquerque is now $110

Postby batblind » Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:20 pm

Just a word to the wise for those, like me, who are very nearsighted Costco is limited as far as what they can do for those of us who are blind as bats. They had to call my optometrist to ask if she would lower the astigmatism Rx on one lens by .25 diopters (She did as it was only .50 to start with and I usually wear contacts anyway).

Now, a lot of what they said went over my head, but apparently the 'key' number is '11'. Your lens 'numbers' (vision correction, astigmatism, whatever) must all add up to 11 or less. My right Rx added up to -11.5 and I was told that Costco couldn't make that lens for me. With the revised Rx I was good to go.

They also don't have the 'thin' lenses in that high a power, either, so I'll have coke bottle lenses. Since I only wear them in the morning & at night (at home) it's no biggie for me, but for those who primarily wear glasses, be aware that your lens choice may be limited.

Postby Nearsightedness » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:51 pm

My Costco in the Detroit area just told me they stopped making lenses for frames not sold by Costco as of September 7th. This is very disappointing. So you cannot bring them your own frames, you have to buy Costco frames.

They said they had some complaints about their low pricing and are also expanding the selection of frames.

Postby Nearsightedness » Wed Sep 30, 2015 1:40 pm

George, have you heard if the recent move by Costco to stop providing lenses to non Costco purchased frames is nationwide? I contacted a second Costco store and they said they don't do lenses for non Costco frames, too.

Postby george » Thu Oct 01, 2015 11:47 pm

It seems that a few different people have posted here now that Costco will only install their lenses in frames bought from Costco. One of the posts above said it was because too many frames were getting damaged and so corporate decided to get rid of the option around November of 2014. At this point, it looks like the service no longer is available which is too bad as Costco has a relatively limited selection of frames. If I hear anything different, I'll make sure to update. I'm going to change the initial post now to include this information.
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Postby AKPal » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:36 pm

Costco does provide lenses for frames bought outside. It might be selected stores that do not provide it. I just had a couple of my frames that was bought elsewhere fitted with Costco lenses.

Postby Owlbet » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:47 pm

The Melville (Long Island, NY) Costco will take non-Costco frames and put their lenses in them for an extra $18 fee, the same as the Westbury Costco in my July 2015 post above. I asked at the Melville Costco today -- specifically if I could bring in my own frames -- and got an affirmative answer. The next time I go to the Westbury location (and remember to do it), I'll ask there as well and report back.

Postby stlc8tr » Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:28 pm

I just got a pair of glasses from Costco and found this board in a Google search.

The process was painless. Just selected a frame and the various lense options. The technician did an OD measurement and the order was placed. After a week, they were ready and the technician did a quickie fitting. Not as carefully as a normal optician but I guess for the price, you can't complain too much.

The one thing that I didn't like about Costco is that they only carry 1.67 high index plastic instead of 1.74 high index plastic. This results in perhaps 20%-30% thicker lenses for anyone who needs a large amount of correction.

Hopefully Costco will carry the higher grade 1.74 high index plastic in the future.
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Postby monk105 » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:35 pm

I just went to a newly opened Costco store (New Britian, CT) and was able to use my own frames. Other than the $18 fee for using my old frames- the prices were what everyone has previously posted: $80 for the Hi-Index 1.67 lens and $30 for the Anti-reflective treatment. It will take 7-10 days before I get them back but thats not bad at all for the price I paid for them. The lady did warn me that if the specialists couldn't make new lenses for my frames they would refund me back. She also gave me a disclaimer that I cannot get Costco to pay for my frames if they break when putting in new lenses. They would refund me back the price of the lenses but not for breaking the frames.

Postby stlc8tr » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:37 pm

I thought the 1.67 plastic lenses were a bit thick so I ended up buying another pair at a normal optician for a lot more.

The new pair uses 1.74 plastic so it ended up being about 30% thinner.

The comparison isn't exact since the frames were slightly different but the Costco pair was 7mm thick at the edge while the newer pair was 5mm thick at the edge.
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Postby laura » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:43 pm

I just called my local Costco in Courtenay, BC, Canada and an eye exam for an adult is $100.

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