Buying contact lenses online can be cheaper than buying them from a doctor’s office, but it may not always be the most affordable option.
Many companies offer discounts, coupons, or subscriptions allowing customers to save money and benefit from free shipping if they order regularly.
However, eye care professionals state that a person may have to consider some disadvantages to ordering contacts online. For instance, there is a risk that people will order from unreputable online retailers that may offer the opportunity to purchase eyewear products without consulting a doctor. They may also sell damaged products.
Additionally, a person may not be able to take advantage of the “open box policy” that many eye doctors offer if they buy online. This means a person can exchange open and closed boxes of lenses for free if their prescription changes.
Get an up-to-date prescription from an eye doctor. In some cases, individuals can use an online retailer’s “doctor finder” service or complete an online eye exam. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emphasizes that it is important to have an up-to-date prescription and that people should not use lenses from older prescriptions. Online eye exams do not replace in-person eye tests.
Visit an online retailer offering contacts. In some cases, a person may want to choose a retailer that offers specialty contacts that help with certain conditions. Or they may want to select generic contacts, as they are often cheaper than name brands.
Select the contacts to purchase. Typically, a person will have a prescription that specifies a particular type or brand of contact lens. While purchasing online, people should select the appropriate brand and lens type and provide their prescription information.
Complete the online purchase and upload a copy of the prescription. Some companies allow people to pay with insurance or payment plans. Others provide an invoice that an individual would then use to submit a claim with their insurance company.
Buyers should note that the number of contacts per box, price, subscription services, and financing options vary greatly between brands and retailers.
Below, we look at how people can save money on their contact lenses.
Bulk buying: Buying a lot of contact lenses at once may help reduce some costs. People may opt to use a company’s membership or subscription service that offers regular delivery, discounts, or free shipping.
Getting insurance coverage: Individuals working with a low budget may want to buy their contact lenses from a provider that accepts insurance. If a company does not accept insurance payments directly, they can forward their invoice to their health insurance company for reimbursement. In some cases, customers may also choose to pay with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Accounts (HSA).
Using coupons: Shopping browser extensions or coupons from a company directly may open up opportunities to use coupon codes or receive cash-back rewards.
There are many considerations for those looking to buy contacts online. These factors include:
Prices will vary greatly between brands and online retailers. A person should review the costs of lenses via different sites to see if they can find a price that suits their budget.
There are many different types of contact lenses. Daily use lenses are lenses that people use and discard daily, while a person wears long-term lenses for longer periods, for example, every 2 weeks or monthly. The lenses a person selects can affect the price and the number of boxes they need to order.
With some companies, such as Warby Parker, a person can choose a subscription service that delivers a set supply every month. Other retailers may offer a 1-year or 6-month up-front service and send the whole supply at once.
A contact lens prescription usually specifies a specific brand or fit, so people may wish to speak with their doctor about choosing lenses from a different brand.
A person needs to consider two main factors regarding brand reputation. The first focuses on the contact lens brand: Does it generally receive good or bad reviews from other customers? A person may wish to explore reviews of individual brands, many of which feature on sellers’ websites.
The second consideration is the retailer. People can find out more information about lens retailers with the following questions:
Do they provide the contacts at a reasonable price?
Do they have good customer service?
Are reviews generally positive?
Are they in good standing with third-party organizations, such as the BBB?
The FDA offers advice on buying contact lenses online. A reliable company should not attempt to substitute a different brand for which a person has a prescription.
Also, people should be wary of any firm that supplies contact lenses that do not exactly match the customer’s prescription.
A doctor may be able to offer specific recommendations for reliable brands and products.
A person can work with their eye doctor to choose an option that is safe and works best for their prescription and eye health.
For some, disposable contacts may work best, while others can use long-term contacts with no issues. People should look for contacts that will best fit their needs.
Roughly 11 million people in the United States aged 12 or older need some vision correction. Delaying vision correction could have a negative effect on a person’s well-being.
Routine eye exams can help a person identify any eye conditions early, help them maintain their eyesight, and even improve their overall health.
Regular eye exams are important for people of all ages, regardless of whether they need vision correction. Getting eye exams regularly can help identify issues early and preserve vision.
People should also keep up with routine eye exams to ensure that their lenses fit properly, as improperly fitting lenses can pose a risk to the eyes. They may cause scratches or blood vessels to grow into the corneas.
The table below outlines how often a person should have their eyes tested based on their age.
Eye test frequency
once at 6–12 months
at least once
once a year at ages 8, 10, 12, and 15
at least once every 2 years
at least once every 2 years
65 and over
at least once a year
A person should have more frequent eye exams if they are at risk of vision issues, such as people with a family history of eye disease, people who use contact lenses, people with diabetes, or people who have had eye injuries or surgery.
If a person has eye pain, blurred vision, floaters, or other changes to their vision, they should schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. They should also contact a doctor if their contact lenses irritate their eyes or cause pain.
Below, we answer some of the top frequently asked questions about buying contact lenses online.
What is the best place to buy contacts online?
The best place to buy contacts online will depend on the type of lenses a person needs, their budget, and whether they would like to use health insurance. The most highly rated online contact lens retailers include WebEyeCare and ContactLensKing.
Is 1-800 Contacts trustworthy?
BBB awards 1-800 Contacts with an A+ grade and a 1.84 out of 5 stars. People may read the company’s customer reviews before committing to a purchase, but it offers:
three types of shipping
24/7 customer support
exchanges on damaged products
Is it safe to buy prescription contact lenses online?
It can be safe to buy prescription contact lenses online. However, a person must ensure that they have a current prescription and that the company has a high customer rating from Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau. People should not use companies that do not require people to have a current prescription.
Which brand is best for contact lenses?
This depends on many factors, such as the individual’s preference, budget, and the type of contact lenses a company offers. Currently, the most highly rated brands are WebEyeCare and ContactLensKing.
People may consider other factors, such as:
warranties or returns
Which is cheaper, Warby Parker or 1-800 Contacts?
Warby Parker is cheaper than 1-800 Contacts.
One box of 90 contact lenses from Warby Parker can cost between $55-$138.25. A pack of 12, 24, 30, or 90 contact lenses from 1-800 Contacts is available for $28.99-$154.99.
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