Most active-duty family members, retirees and reservists and their family members are now eligible for a new vision benefit that provides extra coverage beyond what they’re getting under Tricare plans.

Comprehensive vision coverage under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or FEDVIP, is effective Jan. 1, but you must enroll during the open enrollment season, which runs from Nov. 12 through Dec. 10.

This coverage is not available to active-duty service members. They continue to get their care through their military hospital or clinic.

In general, those who are enrolled in a Tricare health plan are eligible for the FEDVIP vision coverage. Those eligible also include Guard and Reserve members or family members enrolled in Tricare Reserve Select, as well as retirees and family members using Tricare For Life.

FEDVIP is a voluntary program that provides supplemental dental and vision benefits to federal civilian employees, retirees and their families.

This comprehensive vision coverage includes eyeglasses or contacts, in addition to routine eye examinations that many beneficiaries get under Tricare Prime or Tricare Select.

There are four vision carriers — Aetna, FEP BlueVision, UnitedHealthcare Vision and VSP Vision Care.

Go to for rates, co-pay information and other benefit information.

Here’s a comparison of some of the elements of the vision plans. All the carriers offer both high and standard plan options for coverage. Within each carrier plan, the premium rates are the same nationally and internationally.

Monthly rate/selfMonthly rate/self + oneMonthly rate/self + familyCo-pay in network
Aetna - High Option$12.20$24.35$36.55$0 lenses/$0 exam, materials
Aetna-Standard Option$6.74$13.48$20.24$10 lenses/$0 exam, materials
Blue Cross Blue Shield- High Option$11.70$23.38$35.08$0
Blue Cross Blue Shield-Standard Option$7.61$15.19$22.79$0
United Healthcare - High Option$10.05$19.57$29.14$10 exam/$10 materials
United Healthcare - Standard Option$6.70$13.07$19.46$10 exam/$25 materials
VSP - High Option$14.43$28.90$43.38$10 exam/$10 glasses
VSP - Standard Option$7.63$15.23$22.88$10 exam/$20 glasses

Consider your vision needs, and those of your family members, as you look at costs and features between the plans. Everyone’s needs are different.

The FEDVIP benefit offers additional vision coverage over and above what’s available through Tricare. There are some restrictions and limitations within different vision plans, but generally the FEDVIP vision plans offer:

  • Routine eye exams and vision correction without referral.
  • Low vision exams. Low vision is loss of sight that can’t be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.
  • Eyeglass frames and lenses, or contact lenses instead of glasses, at many eye doctor offices and optical retail stores.
  • Lens options such as shatter-resistant polycarbonate; scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and UV coatings; and tinted and progressive lenses.
  • Discounts on laser eye surgery.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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