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How to Save on Contact Lenses

Wednesday, March 3rd

How to Save on Contact Lenses

The first consideration when thinking about how to save on contact lenses is the type. It is important to discuss with your doctor which lens type is best for your condition.

  • Rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses might be the least costly lens option. These lenses have the advantage of providing possibly the best vision correction capability. At the same time, the substance they are made from allows oxygen to pass through the lens and get to the cornea.
  • Daily disposables might cost twice as much, but can be the most convenient. Put them on in the morning, take them out at night, and dispose of them.
  • Flexible silicone hydrogels generally cost somewhere in between.

Many lens types are designed to last a specific period of time, such as two weeks or a month before replacement.

Since 2004, the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act has given the consumer many of the same benefits enjoyed by users of standard glasses. This act allows you to choose where to shop for your lenses. With some exceptions, you do not have to purchase your lenses from the same doctor who writes the prescription. The act gives you the right to take a copy of your own contact lens prescription and fill the prescription at the business of your choice, including online discount sites.

Read your prescription and understand it. Even if a prescription is for a specific brand of contact lens, many manufacturers sell identical lenses under multiple brand names. Ask your doctor when you receive your prescription if he or she knows of additional brands supplying an identical lens.

It pays to shop around. Compare prices between multiple sources, including:

  • The eye-care specialist you receive your prescription from
  • Specialty shops, like LensCrafters and PearleVision
  • Large retailers, like Sears, J. C. Penney, Wal-Mart, and Target
  • Wholesale membership clubs, like Costco, Sam's, and BJ's
  • Online sources

On average, the wholesale clubs offer the lowest prices. If you don't have access to one of these, online sources average only slightly higher and are the most convenient to shop. Independent eye-care professionals and specialty chain stores generally have the highest prices.

Review your insurance coverage. The total cost of purchasing contact lenses includes the cost of the eye examination by a doctor who writes the prescription, as well as the cost of buying the contact lenses that the doctor prescribes. Most vision plans include a yearly exam and discounted prices on lenses.

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Contact Lens Store FAQ

With nearly 45 million people in the US alone who wear contacts, the reasons are just as numerous! Some prefer the way they look, while others find them more comfortable for their everyday activities, especially spending time outdoors or exercising. Also, a small percentage of the population struggle to achieve 20/20 vision with glasses but find that contact lenses make it possible.
There are three basic types of lenses: hard, gas permeable, and soft. In the past, more rigid contacts were needed to correct astigmatism, but with advances in technology most users can get the vision correction they need with a more comfortable soft lens. Some contacts are single-use (meaning that you throw them away after you've used them for a day), while others are worn for longer periods and need to be kept in a disinfecting solution overnight. There are even fashion contact lenses to change the look of your eye color or as part of a Halloween costume!
Children can use contact lenses as early as age 8, but many doctors don't recommend them for patients younger than 12 - largely due to concerns about hygiene and injuries when putting them in and removing them. On the other end of the age spectrum, there's no such thing as "too old" for contacts, but you may find yourself needing a more specialized lens that can accommodate presbyopia (not being able to see things up close) or dry eyes
That's an easy one: to save money! Why spend more when you can get the exact same lenses for less? You'll often see new customer discounts of up to 30% off retail prices. And, your optometrist may not be fully stocked on the lenses you need, leaving you waiting for them to be delivered either way.
Most contact lens stores have a satisfaction guarantee that protects you if you somehow receive lenses that are different from your prescription. It's a good idea to check the contacts you get against the prescription you submitted: a simple mistake like changing a plus to a minus or a 3 to an 8 can easily leave you with drastically blurry vision!
In most places, it's required by law to have a prescription to dispense contact lenses. Prescriptions are typically valid for a year, so you may want to keep an eye on the calendar and reorder your new contacts right before yours expires. Some retailers have an online tool that will check your vision, send your results to an optometrist, and update your prescription - often at no charge! If you don't have a complicated prescription and don't think your vision has changed much since your last in-person exam, this could be a convenient option.
Sometimes. Not every online retailer of contacts will accept vision insurance. If you have a plan with VSP, Cigna, MetLife or another provider, you may want to choose a contact lens store that will apply your benefits to your purchase.
Absolutely. Many of them have been in business for decades. If you want extra reassurance that the retailer you're considering is a good option, be sure to look at their rating from the Better Business Bureau along with reviews from previous customers.
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