No; you can buy your vision hardware anywhere. You do not receive a discount for vision hardware when seeing a preferred or network provider. The plan pays adult vision hardware claims based on the maximum benefit ($150 per two calendar years); children's vision hardware claims are paid differently.
Some vision hardware providers will submit the claim for you, but the plan pays the same amount no matter where you purchase your vision hardware. This includes out-of-state or Internet-based providers. You will usually have to submit a paper claim, so make sure you get a receipt showing the name and contact information for the vendor, what you purchased, and the cost.
NOTE: You should see a preferred provider for eye exam services, as out-of-network providers are paid at the out-of-network provider rate.
vision hardware for children ages 0-18 is covered differently and is not subject to the $150 limit.