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Glasses and contacts are so commonplace, it's easy to forget that optometry is a medical issue. When you're prescribed eyewear by an eye doctor, you're essentially being prescribed medicine to treat a vision disorder. In the United States, over 61% of the adult population need some kind of corrective eyewear. So how do eyewear expenses fit in with your FSA? Do contacts and accessories fall under the same FSA eligibility rules as glasses? Here's everything you need to know about FSA eligible vision and optical expenses.
Most people know they can use their FSA card to purchase prescription glasses, but they might not be aware of one key fact — the wide array of prescription glasses you can buy with an FSA. That includes even glasses from designer brands like Versace, Coach, Jimmy Choo, Tory Burch, Burberry, Michael Kors, Emporio Armani, Ray-Ban, Oakley, and more. As long as you're buying prescription glasses, you can use your FSA card to pay for them. You can also use your FSA to purchase eyeglass repair kits, for when those high-end frames inevitably get damaged.
Sunglasses are essential for protecting your vision while outdoors, but FSA eligibility surrounding sunglasses is complicated. If you're just buying regular sunglasses for personal use, you're not allowed to use an FSA.
Prescription sunglasses, however, are FSA eligible. You may or may not need a prescription from your eye doctor to buy prescription sunglasses. As long as the glasses you buy help your vision, your FSA will likely cover them (when in doubt, always ask your FSA administrator for help).
Consumers who prefer to wear contacts instead of, or in addition to glasses can use their FSA to purchase contacts. Even if your vision insurance company doesn't cover contacts, you can still use your FSA to pay for them. Contact solution and contact lens cases are also FSA eligible (and things you shouldn't overlook when going through those receipts for reimbursement).
Note: You can't use an FSA for color contacts that don't have any vision correcting qualities. So no, you probably won't be getting reimbursed from those party store expenses.
Reading glasses correct farsightedness, a problem that affects most adults after age 40. If you have to squint to read the words on this screen, chances are you need them too. Reading glasses don't have to be as individually specific as regular glasses, so you don't need a prescription. You can buy them at grocery stores, drugstores or online. Reading glasses are also FSA eligible, and you don't need a prescription to make them yours with FSA funds. People who also have nearsighted issues need to buy bifocals, which address both types of eye problems. These glasses are often expensive, but your FSA can help offset the additional costs of this more-complicated eyewear.
Putting your FSA to work for better vision
Honestly, it's easy -- like any other eligible purchase, you can use your FSA card when buying contacts, glasses or prescription sunglasses from your optometrist, retail eye clinic or online store. (Need to find one? Well, stop looking.) You can also pay for the item with your regular debit or credit card and then submit a claim to be reimbursed from your FSA. No matter which option you choose, keep the receipt and upload it in a cloud or other virtual storage space. You'll want to have proof in case your FSA administrator questions the purchase.