That's Eligible?! A little more clarity on FSAs and contact lenses

A while back, we covered some surprisingly eligible ways you can use your FSA to care for your eyes. But we realized that contact lenses probably deserved a little more discussion.

Contact lenses, like eyeglasses or LASIK, can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. About 20% of Americans who need their vision corrected wear contact lenses. Contact lenses can provide a full field of unobstructed vision, which is great for being active and participating in sports.

And with good reason -- the National Eye Institute encourages everyone to get an annual eye exam. But what happens if you need glasses or want contacts? Can you use your FSA to pay for them?

How do I choose the best contact lenses for me?

Most eye care centers provide several options for contact lenses. But there are a few factors to consider when choosing the right type of lenses for you. First -- what is the physical material of the contact lenses? Traditional soft contact lenses provide the best comfort and adjust quickly when put in.

But you might also consider harder, gas-permeable (GP) lenses which usually require a little adjustment before they become comfortable. However, GP lenses provide better vision because they have a hard, polished surface that doesn't rip as easily as soft ones. Over time, this could mean real cost benefits.

Are all types of contacts covered?

In essence,if contacts are designed to correct vision problems, they are FSA-eligible. Though insurance companies might have their own policies regarding coverage of specific types or brands of lenses, all are fully reimbursable with your tax-free funds.

Plus, unlike some insurance providers, which may not cover contact lenses in place of eyeglasses, if the contacts are prescribed to correct vision they are eligible, regardless of insurance plan coverage.

So, what isn't covered?

If you're looking to use contact lenses purely for cosmetic purposes -- for example, trying a new eye color, adding to a sick Halloween costume, scaring your neighbors, etc. -- then you can't use your FSA to pay for them.

They may be fun and exciting, but they have no corrective purpose, so they don't make the cut. Don't feel slighted, though -- products and services designed only for cosmetic purposes are never FSA-eligible.


Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Is LASIK an FSA eligible expense?

Is LASIK an FSA eligible expense? You can learn much more about LASIK and FSA eligibility in the blog post, including what's involved in the actual surgery.

Every once in a while, customers wonder if they can use their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for LASIK surgery. In short, the answer is yes.

LASIK Surgery is FSA Eligible

You can pay for your laser vision correction with either a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account. Before you go ahead and set aside money for LASIK for the year, remember that 20-30% of people who want LASIK cannot have it done for medical reasons.

Depending on where you get your surgery done, the pricing may be low enough to be covered entirely by your eligible pre-tax spending account. See if you can find out the exact cost for your procedure to figure out the most effective way to use your FSA or HSA to pay for LASIK.

Ask the practice for a receipt of your FSA expense for the LASIK procedure and submit it to your FSA/HSA administrator for reimbursement. Under the FSA "use it or lose it" rule, you can use your remaining FSA balance to fund a portion of your LASIK eye surgery procedure rather than losing that money.

LASIK Surgery Explained and Payment with Flexible Spending Accounts

LASIK eye surgery is done to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism in the eyes. It's a commonly performed surgery that is short (only several minutes per eye) and painless. The goal is to eliminate the need for eyeglass or contact lenses, saving money and hassle in the long run.

Your LASIK doctor will perform a dilated eye exam to measure things like the shape and thickness of your cornea, pupil size, refractive errors, and general health to ensure you are the right candidate for LASIK.

How the LASIK surgery actually works:

During the LASIK procedure, a specially trained eye surgeon creates a precise and thin incision on your cornea. The excimer laser then reshapes the cornea in a unique pre-specified pattern for each patient The cornea is reshaped to allow light entering the eye to be focused on the proper part of the retina to obtain clearer vision.

Since contact lenses alter the natural shape of your eye, you will be asked to stop wearing contacts for a specified period of time prior to your surgery date.

Traditional vs Custom Procedure

With the Traditional Laser eye procedure, a patient's prescription is measured using the same methods that would determine their prescription for glasses and contacts. With the Custom Wavefront Laser procedure, a comprehensive map of the patient's eye is used to guide the procedure.

Traditional procedures are effective for treating lower-order irregularities like myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia. Custom procedures help treat lower-order aberrations as well as higher-order aberrations such as halos, glare and starbursts.

Awaiting LASIK or still doing research on it and want to shop for eye care instead?

You can buy a variety of eye care products at FSA Store, including contact lens solution, prescription eyeglasses and even contact lenses!

Eye Care

Keep your eyes feeling good with FSA-eligible eye care products.