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Affordable eye exam Chicago

Comprehensive Eye & Vision Examinations

Regular eye exams are an essential part of preventative health care for adults and children. With 6 vision care centers in the greater Chicago area, we make it easy and affordable to get a comprehensive eye exam from a real optometrist.

Eye exam information:

Book an exam online or find an Eye Boutique near you to get started:

How much does an eye exam cost?

For patients with vision insurance, all or most of the cost of a yearly eye exam is typically covered. We offer free coverage checks (no appointment needed) at all locations. Just call or stop by with your insurance card and we’ll explain exactly what your benefits amount to.

For patients without vision insurance we keep exam costs affordable. At any Eye Boutique you can get a comprehensive eye exam for just $69.

Our doctors also accept CareCredit, which you can use for eye exams, glasses, sunglasses and contacts. We offer regular deals and discounts on eye exams and eyewear including frames and lenses.

Why is it important to get regular eye exams?

Eye exams are important because diseases affecting the eyes don’t always have obvious symptoms. In many cases patients don’t notice a change in their vision until the condition has developed into a serious problem. Glaucoma is nicknamed ‘the silent thief of sight’ because it’s notorious for advancing undetected until permanent vision loss has happened.

Cataracts are the number one cause of vision loss in the United States. Most cataracts can be detected during a routine eye exam. AMD (age-related macular degeneration) is another leading cause of vision loss. AMD usually begins without symptoms and advances slowly, so keeping up with regular eye exams is crucial for older adults. Eye exams can also provide early diagnosis of other serious health conditions.

Vision tends to deteriorate gradually, especially as we get older. Regular eye exams ensure your prescription is updated so you can always see clearly.

Routine eye exams are particularly important for children, who may not realize they have trouble seeing until they have their vision tested. Difficulties in school, sports and social situations can sometimes be caused by underlying vision problems.

Prolonged screen time on smartphones, tablets and computers can cause digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome. Symptoms can include head, neck or shoulder pain, dry eyes and blurred or double vision. Your eye doctor can prescribe contacts or glasses designed to address digital eye strain and protect your vision.

What health conditions can eye exams detect?

In addition to glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye disorders, routine eye exams can detect many other conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, and even cancer. The health and condition of the blood vessels in your retinas can provide early warning signs for systemic diseases.

What is a routine eye exam?

A routine eye exam is different from a medical eye exam, which diagnoses a symptom or condition such as dry eye, cataracts, etc. The main purpose of a routine eye examination is to check your vision, prescribe glasses or contacts (if needed) or update your existing lens prescription, and screen for eye disease.

The reason routine and medical eye exams are differentiated is for insurance billing purposes. Vision insurance typically covers an annual routine eye exam (Medicare being an exception). If you have a medical condition like glaucoma or pink eye, your medical insurance may be billed instead. We’re always happy to do a free insurance check and explain how your coverage works!

What should I expect in a routine eye exam?

While your eye doctor may decide you do or do not need a specific test, comprehensive eye exams usually include:

Chicago eye exam patient history


Your eye doctor will want to review any recent vision symptoms, as well as eye injuries/surgeries, medications, and your family history of diseases like diabetes and hypertension. You may be asked about your workplace (be sure to mention if you work outdoors!) and lifestyle to screen for environmental factors affecting your vision.

eye examination vision tests Chicago


Visual acuity at near and far distances is tested using eye charts. Additional tests measure your color vision, eye muscle function, depth perception, peripheral vision and how your pupils react to light.

Chicago eye exam refraction test


Refraction tests measure how your eye lens focuses light, so your eye doctor can determine the exact lens power needed to correct vision problems like astigmatism and near or far-sightedness. This test involves looking through a series of different lens pairings and choosing the clearer option.

keratometry as part of a clinical examination of the eye near Chicago


In this test, a circle of light is focused on your cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye. The reflection is measured to diagnose astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea) and to get the right fit for contact lenses.

tonometry procedure as part of a Chicago eye exam


Tonometry measures eye pressure. Eyes are constantly producing clear fluid (intraocular fluid) which needs to drain constantly to maintain healthy pressure. When there’s a drainage problem the pressure builds up and can damage the optic nerve causing glaucoma and vision loss. In this test a very small, brief puff of air is released, and a sensor measures the corresponding indentation on the eye surface.

eye movement tests during an eye examination


Movement tests are used to determine if there are problems with focus, binocular vision, or eye teaming (how well your eyes work in unison).

eye dilation as part of a routine eye exam


Dilation tests give doctors a better view of internal eye structures like your retina and optic nerve. Typically, eye drops are used to dilate your pupils before the doctor takes a look. Some locations* offer Optomap® dilation-free retinal imaging, which enables doctors to assess the retina and optic nerve without dilating drops.

contact lens eye exams Chicago


Contact lens exams and fittings include extra steps to determine the measurements of your pupil and iris, map your cornea, and evaluate your tear film. Patients who already wear contacts will have their eyes checked for changes or damage contact lenses may have caused.

*Eye exams with Optomap® retinal imaging are available at the following locations: Naperville, Schaumburg, Joliet, Crystal Lake, and Geneva.

How should I prepare for an eye exam?

To make the most of your eye doctor appointment, think about whether you’ve experienced any eye or vision problems since your last exam:

  • Have you noticed any issues like blurriness, night vision getting worse, seeing flashes of light, or seeing double?
  • Has a change in how you see made you reluctant or anxious to perform specific activities?
  • Do you experience any difficulty telling the difference between shades of color, or judging how far away things are?
  • Do you know your family history of eye diseases like glaucoma or cataracts?

If not, it’s a good idea to find out before your exam so you can share this information with your doctor. You may also want to consider your general health since your last eye exam, and tell your eye doctor about any relevant injuries, health conditions or illnesses.

There are a few things you should bring with you to your eye exam:

  • Your latest prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, and/or contact lenses
  • A list of all medications you’re currently taking (prescription and over the counter)
  • Contact information for your primary care physician
  • Your vision insurance card, if you have one
  • If your eye exam will include dilation you might want to bring along someone to drive you home (or make other arrangements).

And finally, don’t forget to bring questions for your eye doctor! If you’ve been wondering whether glasses or contacts are better for your vision, if you need safety eyewear for a hobby or sport, or if you’re doing all you can to protect your vision and eye health, your eye doctor is the best person to ask.

What not to do before an eye exam:

  • Don’t drink alcohol before an eye exam. Even a glass of wine or a beer with your last meal can dilate blood vessels in your retinas.
  • Don’t strain your eyes. If you can, avoid prolonged screen time and other intense visual activities the day or night before your exam.
  • Don’t wear your contact lenses if you’re getting your vision checked. Take them out at least a couple of hours before your appointment, and wear glasses instead (if you’re having a contact lens eye exam, you should wear your lenses so the doctor can evaluate the fit).

Proactive eye care for patients with diabetes

People with diabetes have a higher risk of eye problems and should have yearly eye exams from a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist. All Eye Boutique optometrists provide eye exams for patients with diabetes and are qualified to evaluate, monitor, and treat eye problems associated with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy: damage to the small blood vessels in the retina (the layer on the back of your eye that responds to light). Diabetic patients are also at greater risk of developing glaucoma and other eye problems.

Damage can occur before any symptoms or vision loss, which is why dilated retinal exams are so important for patients with diabetes. By inspecting the back of your eye, your doctor can catch problems early to give you the best chance of preventing vision loss.

If there is a diagnosis of eye disease caused by diabetes, we will refer you to an ophthalmologist for treatment.

How often do I need an eye exam?

How often you need an eye exam depends on your age, eye health, and other risk factors. Regular pediatric eye exams are especially important to detect vision problems that can interfere with learning and development.

For healthy individuals without vision problems, the American Optometric Association recommends:

Age Eye exam frequency
6 - 24MONTHS First exam at 6 months*
2 - 5YEARS At age 3, and again before starting 5k
6 - 18YEARS Once a year
19 - 60YEARS Every 1-2 years or as recommended by doctor
60+YEARS Once a year

*We provide eye exams for children aged 3 and older. For children younger than 3, please contact us for a referral. Annual senior eye exams are recommended for patients aged 60 and older.

If any of these statements are true, you should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible:

  • You can't remember when you had your last eye exam
  • You experience regular headaches, squinting, or blurred vision
  • You have chronic eye issues like pain, redness, itching, discharge, or irritated skin
  • You've noticed a sudden increase in spotty vision, 'floaters', or bright flashes
  • Driving at night has gotten harder
  • You've had an injury to the eye or eye area
  • You regularly use digital screens for extended periods of time

As a general rule, when you notice any changes in your vision it’s a good idea to schedule an eye exam. Like most things, identifying the problem early means treatment is likely to be easier and more successful.

Chicago eye exam with vision insurance

Does vision insurance cover eye exams?

Many vision insurance plans cover all or most of the cost of a yearly eye exam, and some even cover part of your eyeglasses and contact lenses too. Eye care for medical conditions like pink eye or glaucoma may be billed to your medical insurance.

We accept many types of vision insurance, including VSP, and most union plans. We provide free coverage checks so you’ll know exactly what’s covered by your plan, and what you can expect for out-of-pocket costs.

Our opticians know the different ways providers try to limit their costs. We help our patients maximize the value of vision insurance benefits, HSA or flex dollars.

Chicago eye exam without insurance

Can I get an eye exam without insurance?

Many of our patients don’t have any vision insurance and are still able to afford routine eye exams. We regularly offer deals and discounts on eye exams and eyewear, and all our stores accept CareCredit so you can pay for your eye care comfortably over time.

Get an affordable comprehensive eye exam at 6 Chicago-area vision care centers:

Book your appointment online, or contact the location nearest you to schedule an appointment or ask a question. Eye Boutique offers affordable eye exams at six eye care centers in the Chicago suburbs. We always welcome new patients.

Naperville Schaumburg Geneva Joliet Crystal Lake Algonquin

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