This Glasses and Contacts Hack Can Save Military Families Hundreds

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This post is sponsored by All opinions and work is mine.

I sat in the eye doctor’s office, a newlywed military spouse. I hadn’t had a chance to use my vision coverage, but after some headaches and squinting through my current prescription, I was sitting in a frigid room during an otherwise swelteringly humid Virginia day. I’m not gonna lie– I’m not a huge fan of medical tests (even the painless ones). Why? Because I’m a perfectionist and I’m afraid I’ll get less than perfect.

The doctor had breezed into the exam room and stared intently at the documents in his hands. “TRICARE?” he said in amazement or amusement–I couldn’t tell which.

I just knew I didn’t like the way he said it.

He brusquely moved me through the regular battery of eye tests. Maybe I had a chip on my shoulder, but it really felt like after finding out what my insurance plan was, he wasn’t really thrilled with working with me. My headaches were from having a prescription that was just too strong, he said. He wrote me a weaker prescription that I had told him I had to squint through to make sense of the chart. Still, he said that it was the right one.

And he said it with such conviction I thought he might have had a point. After all– he was the doctor. I’m an English major who barely passed college human bio with a B.

“Ann will help you pick frames in the lobby,” he said.

And I was ushered out into the lobby of the shopping center eye doctor’s office. It was super bright and a little disorienting after being in dark room. Oh, and I was freezing, so I was kind of shaking too. With my bloodshot eyes, I probably looked a little crazy.

After I saw the prices of the frames, I definitely looked crazy.

And then when I added up what everything would cost with lenses, I was breathless. It was way too much, especially when–

Ann looked at me with a little bit of pity and said, “Your insurance doesn’t cover glasses.”

I knew that but hearing it from her was demoralizing. In my previous, non-military life, I had good vision insurance, and–perhaps embarrassingly–I had never bought a pair of glasses that weren’t at least partially covered. I didn’t really know how much they would be.

We couldn’t afford a single pair of glasses on the wall.

“Maybe the clearance section?” Ann asked when she saw my sticker shock.

So I looked. And they were ugly. And not that much cheaper. And clearance frames didn’t equal clearance lenses, too.

I’m going to be very honest with you guys. I don’t often stick up for myself in situations like these. (You could probably tell that when I took a prescription that I knew was wrong.) It’s something I’m working on, but I usually go with the flow. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want to seem like a trouble-maker.

But not this time. I literally couldn’t afford not to say something.

“I’m not buying glasses here,” I said. “I need my prescription, please.”

Ann made some sales attempts to get me to buy glasses. I could charge them, after all. They had payment plans. I kept shaking my head. “Just my prescription.”

When I finally had it in hand, I walked out of the office in a daze. And not just because my eyes were still dilated from the glaucoma test.

It's super military-friendly, has a discount, and there are a few other perks, too! #ad

Here’s the thing about TRICARE

TRICARE doesn’t cover…

  • Glasses or contact lenses for family members because of vision loss
  • Adjustments, cleaning, and repairs for glasses
  • Intraocular lenses for correcting astigmatism and presbyopia. This includes any adjustments, subsequent treatment, services or supplies needed

(That’s directly from their website… word-for-word.) TRICARE doesn’t think that your glasses–even if you can’t see road signs or your baby’s face without them–are any of their concern. They will cover glasses in specific, certain conditions like if your child has infantile glaucoma or if you need special glasses after surgery for a detached retina.

But if your kid needs sports glasses for elementary school recess? That’s on you. If you need a pair of prescription glasses to live life, that’s on you. If your kids all need glasses all at the same time, that’s still on you.

They do cover glasses and/or sunglasses for service members, but that depends on active duty status. And, by the way, they’re standard-issue frames. So if your service member wants a different pair, that’s on him or her.

Don’t even ask about contact lenses for anyone. The answer is no.

So, what do you do?

Well, you could end up spending a boatload of cash on glasses that you’re probably going to lose, break, or need to buy again with a different description.

Or you could try buying glasses online.

Try this online retailer

Let me introduce you to They’re an online glasses retailer that offers glasses starting at $29 a pair… with free prescription lenses. They also have prescription sunglasses and transition lenses available– and all glasses are finished in a USA-based lab, so your new glasses (or your repaired glasses) get to you faster. They literally are not on a slow boat to–or from–China.

And then there’s

  • A year-long return policy (365 days to be exact)
  • Free shipping on any order also has a sister-site (you guessed it!) As one of the largest contact lens retailers in the world, they offer a variety of brands, have a price-match policy, and are able to ship overnight (if needed) for most prescriptions. If you spend more than $99 (and let’s be real, that’s easy to do with contacts), you’ll get free shipping.


Take advantage of 10% off all orders on both and with the code “MILITARY.” If you’re not military, you can take 10% off with “BLOGDCLDG10.”

15 Responses

  1. If I win, I would choose contacts. The glasses that I have now are still in good shape and cost me an arm and a leg!

  2. I usually get my glasses and contacts at Costco or Walmart. And I always try to buy on sale. But I’ll give discount glasses a shot!!!

  3. I just found out that I have an astigmatism, so I need brand new contacts AND glasses! After a fail with my taxes, I definitely need all the help I can get. Thanks discount glasses and Jo for this chance!

  4. Another great place to get less pricey glasses is Zenni Optical. They ship to APO/FPO as well.

  5. If I win I would get contacts. Mine cost alot since I have stuck a strong perscription.

  6. For people who don’t win, Warby Parker and Zenni Optial have great glasses as well! Warby Parker’s run at $95 and I can vouch for the quality – they’re the best pair of glasses I’ve ever had, and about 1/4 to 1/5 of the price you’ll pay at the eye doctor or other stores. Zenni Optial has pairs at $29, same as Discount Glasses.

  7. I would pick the prescription sunglasses! I hate wearing my glasses when I think it’s going to be sunny because I can’t wear my regular sunglasses over top of them. It would be nice to be able to wear glasses and then switch to prescription sunglasses if it gets sunny!

  8. Really hoping to win some contacts! I’ve wanted new ones for a while!

  9. I would get some new contact lenses. My new pair of glasses cost me well over $300, so haven’t been able to financially justify the price of contacts just yet :(

  10. Thanks for the info. I definitely need a pair of new prescription glasses!

  11. Any ideas on how to frame a print without any borders? As in the artwork extends to the edge of the print – there is no border around the artwork itself. The frame or mat would be block at least an 1/8 inch of art all around the print. Is it acceptable to float something like this?

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