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Can You Use FSA or HSA to Pay for Prescription Eyewear? Here’s How

Dr. Melody Huang

Written By:

Dr. Melody Huang

Updated: 03 October 2022 •  

TLDR: Definitely, FSA or HSA funds are an excellent way to pay for prescription glasses, eye exams, contact lenses, and many other eye care expenses! You can save lots of money by using these accounts to pay for certain medical expenses.
 

What are HSA and FSA?

A healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) and a health savings account (HSA) allow you to save money for medical expenses before taxes. These expenses include many eye care services and products, including prescription glasses.
 
In most cases, the amount you set aside is deducted from each paycheck and goes straight into your FSA or HSA. That means you won’t forget to fund your account since it’s automatically done for you!
 
If you’re looking for in-depth explanations of HSA and FSA, skip to the end of this article!
 

Can you use an FSA or HSA to pay for eyewear?

Yes – you can use an FSA or HSA for prescription glasses and sunglasses.
 
However, the glasses must correct vision problems or address a specific medical condition. Eligible items include:
 

  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Eyewear frames
  • Non-prescription reading glasses
  • Prescription sports or safety goggles

 
Except for reading glasses, most non-prescription glasses are not eligible for FSA or HSA. This restriction includes non-prescription blue light glasses. However, you may be covered if your doctor prescribes them for a medical condition. Check with your employer’s human resources department or the FSA administrator to find out.
 

Where can you use your FSA or HSA dollars to buy glasses?

HSA and FSA funds can be used at many optical retailers, both online and in-store. These include optometry practices, eyeglass chain stores, pharmacies, and other places that sell prescription glasses and sunglasses.
 

How to purchase eyeglasses with FSA/HSA

When you open an FSA or HSA, you typically receive a card linked to your account. This card acts as a debit card for medical expenses. Some retailers accept payment using your FSA or HSA card.
 
If you don’t have a card or the retailer doesn’t accept it, you can use your regular credit or debit card and submit the receipt for reimbursement.
 
Your employer or plan administrator can provide instructions on how to submit receipts. It’s best to check if the medical expense is eligible under your FSA or HSA before purchasing. Otherwise, you may not be reimbursed for the cost.
 

What else can I buy with my FSA or HSA card?

Covered expenses vary from plan to plan, but most FSAs and HSAs allow you to use funds for vision and eye care-related items such as:
 

  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Eyewear frames (with or without lenses)
  • Non-prescription reading glasses
  • Prescription sports or safety goggles
  • Contact lenses
  • Contact lens solution and cases
  • Eyeglass cleaner, wipes, cases, and repair kits
  • Eye drops (including over-the-counter allergy and dry eye drops)
  • Eye exams
  • Tests to screen for and monitor eye diseases
  • Copays and deductibles for eye care services

 
Less common items eligible under your HSA or FSA include:
 

  • Orthokeratology lenses
  • LASIK and other refractive surgery to correct vision
  • Cataract, glaucoma, pterygium, corneal, and other eye surgeries
  • Eye medications (such as glaucoma drops or injections for age-related macular degeneration)
  • Home eye pressure monitors
  • Care for service animals (such as a guide dog for the visually impaired)

 

What vision care-related items are not allowable expenses for FSA or HSA?

Generally, FSA or HSA dollars cover items that help prevent or treat a medical condition (including vision issues). If a device or service is certified as medically necessary by your doctor, you may be able to use the funds towards it.
 
Items that aren’t typically covered include:
 

  • Non-prescription glasses, such as fashion or costume glasses
  • Non-prescription blue light glasses
  • Colored or cosmetic contact lenses that do not correct vision
  • Warranties or insurance for eyeglasses
  • Cosmetic procedures, such as blepharoplasty (eyelid lift)

 

Other ways to pay for prescription eyewear

If you don’t have an HSA/FSA or aren’t eligible for one, there are other ways to pay for eyeglasses and other vision care items.
 

  • Vision insuranceThis can be purchased on your own or provided by your employer. This insurance is different from your medical health insurance. Vision insurance typically covers eye exams, contact lens fittings, contact lenses, prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses, and discounts on LASIK. Some popular vision insurance plans include EyeMed, VSP, and Davis Vision.
  •  

  • Vision discount plansThey cost less than vision insurance, but you could end up paying more out-of-pocket fees than with vision insurance. These plans function as an annual membership that discounts eye exam fees, eyeglasses, and contacts.
  •  

  • Medicare plansThey are an option if you’re over 65, are younger but have disabilities, or have end-stage renal disease. However, it’s important to note that Medicare Part A and B don’t provide vision coverage. Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) offers additional coverage for vision services, including glasses.
  •  

  • CareCreditIt allows you to finance the cost of medical services and supplies over several months or even a few years. If your credit is approved, you can use CareCredit to pay for eyeglasses, eye exams, and other out-of-pocket costs. Check with your eye doctor or optical retailer to see if they accept CareCredit.

 

Benefits of using your FSA and HSA to get eyewear

An FSA or HSA is an excellent way to pay for eye care-related items since most optometric services and supplies are eligible. You’re using pre-tax dollars with these accounts, which saves you more money! With the extra funds, you can do things like:
 

  • Buy a backup pair of glasses (you never know when that other pair might break!)
  •  

  • Stock up your contact lens supply (no one wants to run out of contacts!)
  •  

  • Get a pair of prescription sunglasses (since your eye doctor is always telling you to protect your eyes from the sun)

 
Additionally, you can use your HSA or FSA in combination with the other ways to pay for eyewear mentioned above.
 
For example, let’s say you have vision insurance covering eyeglasses up to $130. You find a pair of frames you love, but they increase the cost of the glasses to $200. You can use your FSA or HSA to pay for the $70 out-of-pocket difference.
 

Understanding HSAs and FSAs in detail

Although you can use them for similar purposes, HSAs and FSAs have distinct differences:
 

HSAFSA
What’s required?You must have a high-deductible health insurance planYour employer must offer an FSA
Who owns the account?YouYour employer
How do I open an account?Your employer can offer an HSA, or you can open one yourselfThrough your employer
Do funds expire?No, they roll over into the next yearYes, they expire each plan year, although there are exceptions (see below)
Who can contribute?You and your employerYou and your employer
Can I change how much I contribute?Yes, at any timeOnly during open enrollment periods, or contact your employer for exceptions

 

Here’s what to know about HSAs:

 

  • You can only open an HSA if you’re enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP).
  •  

  • HDHPs have a lower monthly premium but a higher deductible. For 2022, HDHPs include any plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family.
  •  

  • If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you aren’t eligible for an HSA.
  •  

  • You can contribute up to $3,650 per year for an individual or $7,300 for a family (at time of writing).
  •  

  • Funds roll over from year to year and don’t expire.
  •  

  • You can also invest these funds if you don’t plan to use them for medical expenses.
  •  

  • You can keep your HSA if you leave your job since you’re the owner of the account.

 
See the IRS page on Health Savings Accounts.
 

Here’s what to know about FSAs:

 

  • You can only get an FSA through your employer.
  •  

  • For 2022, FSAs allow you to contribute up to $2,850.
  •  

  • You must “use it or lose it.” If you don’t use all your FSA funds within the plan year, they expire.
  •  

  • Your employer can allow you to carry over up to $570 of unused funds into the following year (at time of writing). Or, they can provide a grace period to use up your funds, up to 2.5 months.
  •  

  • Your employer manages the account, so if you leave your job, you lose the FSA.

 
See the IRS page on Flexible Spending Accounts.
 
There are many benefits to having an FSA or HSA, like paying for health care items your insurance doesn’t cover, or saving funds for unexpected medical expenses.
 
FSAs and HSAs are an easy way to make sure your family’s health needs are covered. The hardest part is remembering to use the funds! Don’t let them go to waste today.
 

Frequently asked questions

1. Can you buy glasses with HSA and FSA money?

 
Absolutely, as long as they are prescription eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, or over-the-counter reading glasses. Glasses without any prescription in the lenses are typically not eligible.
 

2. Can I use my FSA or HSA with prescription sunglasses?

 
Yes, as long as the sunglasses have a prescription, you can purchase them with HSA or FSA funds. If they are non-prescription sunglasses, you can’t use your FSA or HSA to pay.
 

3. Are there FSA or HSA purchase limits for eyeglasses?

 
There is no limit on how many pairs of glasses you can buy and no restriction on the dollar amount. However, you want to make sure you have enough funds in your account before purchasing.

Dr. Melody Huang

Written by:

Dr. Melody Huang

Melody Huang is an O.D. and medical writer with over ten years of expertise. As an optometric physician licensed with the California State Board of Optometry, Melody currently practices in the Los Angeles area.
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