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If you answered, "at the optometrist's office", you might be missing out on some serious savings - on the exact same contacts you'd get from your doctor! Shopping for your lenses online could get you prices at discounts of as much as 70% over the everyday retail price, but with the benefits of ordering from home and having them come right to your doorstep.
Have you ever wondered if contact lenses are right for you? Maybe you tried to wear them a decade (or two) ago and just couldn't find a comfortable fit. You may want to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor, because technology has advanced to the point that many people can now comfortably wear contacts, even when previous attempts have failed. Where once it took a hard or gas permeable lens to achieve the right amount of correction, there are now soft lenses for astigmatism and even presbyopia (i.e. age-related farsightedness).
Monday, January 18th
Eyeconic was started by the non-profit organization VSP, a name you may already recognize if you have vision insurance. Whether you have coverage or not, you'll find that the prices and service at this retailer are extremely competitive.
Apples To Apples
In order to make an apples-to-apples comparison across contact lens stores, we chose one particular type to price out: the Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism daily lenses. Eyeconic came in slightly higher than many of their competitors at $40.99 per box of 30 lenses.
Nice Perks - Like Free Shipping
When comparing contact lens stores, you need to also consider some of the big perks this retailer offers. First, you'll get free shipping regardless of the amount of your order. If you're just buying a one-box refill, you'll probably pay at least $6 for shipping with many of Eyeconic's rivals. Tack those delivery fees on to your total cost and you'll likely see that now Eyeconic comes out equally priced.
This store also offers significant discounts if you buy an entire year's supply of contacts at once. On our order of the Acuvue Oasys lenses, we would save $120 when buying 24 boxes (12 for each eye, of course), bringing the per-box cost down to just $35.99. Additionally, when we visited Eyeconic for the first time, we got a pop-up offering us a 10% discount if we signed up for their email newsletter.
Another plus you're unlikely to find elsewhere is the free consultation after your purchase. Every product (both contacts and eyeglasses) comes with a complimentary visit after you receive your order, just to make sure that everything is fitting properly. Eyeconic has a network of more than 34,000 eye professionals, so chances are good that you'll find one near you for your post-purchase adjustment if you choose to use it.
Apply Your Vision Insurance Benefits
But the biggest advantage of shopping at Eyeconic, for some customers, is the fact that they make it incredibly easy to apply your vision insurance benefits. If you have Cigna Vision, MetLife or VSP, you'll be able to use your coverage to pay for your lenses. It just takes a few extra steps to link your insurance with the Eyeconic site, and you'll see your benefit amount clearly shown in the price breakdown on each product and in your shopping cart. And, if you don't want to use your benefits for a given order - maybe you're saving them for a pair of glasses or for later in the year - you can always toggle them off and simply pay out of pocket.
No Issues With Contact Lenses
Given all of these benefits, we were surprised to see that Eyeconic's rating from the Better Business Bureau was only a "B". That rating seems to be related to the two dozen complaints registered there, all of which described issues with the quality of eyeglasses customers received and none that we could find related to contacts. We were encouraged to see that Eyeconic had an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars from nearly 4,000 customer ratings elsewhere. Reviewers praised the ease of using insurance benefits to pay for their orders, the quick delivery time, and the overall savings compared with using their local optometrist to supply their lenses.
Eyeconic offers a host of benefits that simply are unmatched by any other contact lens store available today. From the free post-purchase consultation to the huge savings on a year's supply, you'll get plenty of perks when buying your contacts here - and even more if you have one of the vision insurance plans that partner with this store. Eyeconic easily earns our highest recommendation when buying contact lenses.
AC Lens is one of two sister companies in our review that offer essentially the same pricing and service on contact lenses. In business for over 20 years, AC Lens is both accredited and "A+" rated by the Better Business Bureau, making it a trustworthy option for buying your contacts.
On our comparison contact lenses, the Acuvue Oasys 1-day for Astigmatism 30-pack, AC Lens was priced at $38.99/box, and there was no discount on larger orders like a one-year supply. You'll pay $5.99 for shipping if your order is under $99, but larger orders will qualify for free delivery.
Customize Your Order
Initially, the AC Lens site makes it look like you can only buy 1, 3, or 6 boxes per order (in other words, a 1-, 3-, or 6-month supply). However, when inputting our prescription, we spotted the "QTY" dropdown box at the very bottom: you can enter the number of boxes you want, ranging from 0-23. In other words, maybe you lost one box and only need to replace the lenses for that eye, or your prescription changed in just one eye. You can customize your order to match just the contacts you need.
If you sign up for AC Lens' newsletter as a new customer, you can get 20% off your first purchase. Also, if you choose to buy your lenses as a subscription (with automatic refills ranging from every two weeks to two years!), you'll get free shipping and a 20% discount on every order.
Online Vision Test
One unique feature that makes AC Lens more convenient than some retailers is their Online Vision Test. You can renew your contact lens prescription without visiting your optometrist, and the service is completely free. You'll need 15 minutes, 10 feet of space, and both a smartphone and computer to do the test. There are also a few other requirements to use this feature:
New Prescription Emailed To You
If you meet these criteria - and you don't live in one of the 20 states and US territories on the exclusion list - you can complete the vision test. It will be reviewed by a licensed eye doctor within 24 hours, and if your results are approved, AC Lens will email you a PDF with your new prescription and process your order.
Save A Few Dollars
When looking at AC Lens versus its sister site, Discount Contacts, there are very few things that distinguish them from one another. AC Lens comes in at a dollar lower per box on our comparison lenses, but the other site offers customer feedback on each product. It might be worth your time to gather the information on the Discount Contacts site, then save yourself a few dollars by buying them through the AC Lens store.
The BBB gives AC Lens a flawless "A+" rating and accreditation, and we found independent reviews from hundreds of satisfied customers. So, AC Lens or Discount Contacts? Whichever one you choose, you'll get contact lenses at a good price from a reputable company. For that reason, AC Lens and Discount Contacts share one of our highest recommendations for buying contact lenses online.
Discount Contacts is a sister site to another contact lens store in our review, AC Lens. You'll find the two sites to be nearly identical in function and design, with only a few slight differences.
Slightly Higher Pricing
One of those differences is, surprisingly, in their pricing. We looked up our apples-to-apples comparison lenses, the Acuvue Oasys 1-Day for Astigmatism contacts, and found that they retail for $39.99/box on the Discount Lenses site. AC Lens offers them for a dollar less per box.
Real Customer Reviews
On the other hand, the Discount Contacts site offers customers more information about the different types of contact lenses. Just on our comparison contacts alone, there were more than 300 customer reviews describing their experience with those specific lenses. That could be a big help if your doctor is recommending that you try a new type of contacts without giving you a pair on a trial basis, or if you're changing from monthly to daily lenses and want to know how they feel.
Look For The Discounts
Across every other dimension, there's no significant difference between shopping for your lenses at Discount Contacts versus AC Lens. When we visited the Discount Contacts site, we got the same pop-up offering a new customer discount of 20% if we provided our email address. There was also a 20% discount code featured at the top of the site, no email required. Shipping fees are the same: free on orders of $99 and up, $5.99 otherwise.
And yes, you can access the same helpful prescription verification tool, where you take a test using both your computer and smartphone and a doctor reviews your results within 24 hours.
Both brands have an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, and plenty of satisfied customers. In short, whether you shop through this site or its sister store, you'll get reasonably-priced contact lenses and perks like the online prescription verification system. That earns Discount Contacts one of our highest ratings among contact lens retailers.
Contact Lens King carries over 5 million contact lenses and has been in business since 2004. They advertise that their contacts may save you as much as 70% over what you'd pay at your local retailer, and they ship most orders within one business day of getting a prescription verified.
Really Enjoyed This Site
We really enjoyed the ease of finding contacts on this site. When you hover over the links on the side of the page, they pop out to give you specific options. That lets you go directly to the contact lenses you need. Of course, if you're trying to match the product by image (such as, the box you currently have with the ones you want to reorder), you can see those by clicking to go to the results instead of selecting the pop-out text.
Expensive Shipping Fees
Contact Lens King's pricing seems to be in the middle of the pack, based on the contact lenses we priced as our comparison item, the Acuvue Oasys 1-Day for Astigmatism: $39.75 per box. However, their shipping fees are noticeably more expensive, at $7.95 for USPS First Class and $14.95 for USPS Priority Mail. Unlike many of their competitors, Contact Lens King doesn't offer free shipping on larger orders (e.g. over $99). This store doesn't charge a processing/handling or insurance fee.
No Discounts Available
We weren't able to find any significant savings when buying from Contact Lens King. Many retailers have coupon codes at the top of the site, or a pop-up discount on a customer's first order. Selected products may have a "buy more, save more" discount, but our Acuvue Oasys lenses did not.
On the plus side, this store has a solid reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives Contact Lens King both an "A+" grade as well as accreditation, and the small number of complaints registered with the BBB were handled appropriately. We also found that the company has an average rating of 4.38 out of 5 stars - out of more than 8000 customer reviews outside of the BBB site.
Sometimes, it doesn't take anything flashy to make for a good retail experience. No, you won't find big discounts or other offers here, but you will get the contacts you need at a good price - and from a company with a positive track record for customer service. Contact Lens King is a decent option among contact lens retailers.
Coastal first opened in 2000, specializing in online sales of contact lenses and later branching out into the eyeglasses market.
Easy Shopping Experience
Shopping for contacts is easy with Coastal. Since you probably already have a preferred brand, start by finding it under the Popular Brands heading at the top of the page. From there, use the filters on the left side of the page to quickly get to the type of lenses you need (e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly; type of prescription).
Prices Significantly Higher
When looking at our comparison-shopping contact lenses, the Acuvue Oasys 1-Day for Astigmatism, Coastal was priced significantly higher than most retailers at $47.99 per box. They offer a price match guarantee, but you'll have to jump through the hoops of making the request for the match with one of their representatives. Do you really want to go to all the hassle when you can get lower everyday prices elsewhere?
Shipping Is Extra
Shipping will cost you $5.95 if your order is less than $99, otherwise it's free. We spotted a line item for "Handling & Insurance" on our checkout page, but it was zeroed out by a mysterious discount that we're not exactly sure where it came from.
Discounts Available Onsite
When we visited the Coastal site, there was a coupon code offering a 10% discount on orders of $99+. We didn't see any other discounts mentioned, but when we clicked on the Auto Refill setting in the shopping cart, we appeared to get a discount of 5% as well as free shipping. That wasn't featured or explained in detail anywhere we could find, so it would be easy for a customer to miss out on that opportunity.
A Few Customer Issues
We also saw in some of the customer reviews on the Coastal site that there may be glitches when shopping here, especially with that Auto Refill service. One person mentioned that despite getting a confirmation email, her subscription didn't go through; disappointingly, the customer service representative said it was a one-time offer (you have to do it at the time you place your order) and that she couldn't manually override it. That review also highlighted the fact that your order will be refilled on the same calendar date as the original purchase: if you buy on January 15, your refill will happen on the 15th as well, and there's no way to change it.
Generally Positive Reviews
Coastal earns a "B+" rating from the Better Business Bureau. That's not an amazing grade, but it comes from problems similar to the one described previously. On a more positive note, we found more than 1,300 customer reviews for Coastal that averaged out to an encouraging 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Would Like To See More Competitive Pricing
We'd love to see Coastal get their pricing more in line with their competitors, without the extra step of requesting a price match. That would help earn this store a higher ranking among contact lens stores.
Lens Direct has been around for more than 30 years and has been featured in Forbes, Newsweek and Business Insider as a top online retailer. Does this contact lens store live up to the hype?
Smaller Selection Of Contact Lenses
Right off the bat, the selection of contact lenses at Lens Direct is lower than many other stores: where their rivals have contact lens options in the millions, Lens Direct's inventory (which includes glasses and contacts) tops out in the 200,000 range.
Tricky Website Navigation
Getting to the comparison lenses we needed was a little tricky with Lens Direct. Where every other retailer called them Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism, this store labeled them as "Oasys Toric" - but the box image looked exactly like the ones we were shopping for. That could quickly get confusing, especially considering there are other Acuvue lenses that specifically say, "for Astigmatism".
More Espensive Than Most
Lens Direct was also one of the more expensive retailers in our evaluation. For a 30-day supply (one box) of our target brand and lens type described above, their retail price was $41.88. You could get them at a 20% discount, or $33.50/box, if you signed up for Lens Direct's AutoRefill program. Those automatic deliveries can be set to come every month, or choose a delivery schedule of your choice (up to once a year).
Shipping fees at this store are more affordable than some, with free delivery on all orders over $49 (which will include most contact lens orders of at least two boxes). However, you'll also pay a 6% "handling and insurance fee" that will drive your costs higher than many of Lens Direct's rivals.
Watch For The Discounts
When using the Lens Direct site for the first time, watch for a pop-up offer of 30% off your order if you provide your email address. We also spotted a 15% discount plus free shipping code at the top of the site during our most recent visit.
Minor Customer Complaints
When it comes to reputation, Lens Direct isn't a standout. We were glad to see that the BBB has accredited this retailer, which left us a little puzzled by their "B+" rating. Most of the customer complaints seemed to center around long processing and shipping times on eyeglasses, but they came during a time when manufacturers worldwide were experiencing significant delays.
The Costs Add Up
Lens Direct is a retailer we'd describe as "good enough". It might be harder to find the contacts you need (or to be sure that you've selected the right ones), and you'll pay slightly more for them once you add up the higher-than-average cost per box and the extra handling fees. You might want to shop around at some of the higher-ranked contact lens stores in our review before committing to a purchase at Lens Direct.
Lens has been around since 1995 (and, if we're being honest, their website gives off a certain 90s vibe). They carry over 13 million contact lenses in their inventory, so you should be able to find what you need - including novelty lenses for costumes!
Lens' everyday pricing on our comparison contacts, the Acuvue Oasys 1-Day for Astigmatism, was on the higher end at $41.99 per box. However, there was an available rebate of $20 if we purchased four boxes at a time - keeping in mind that's just a change from a 1-month to a 2-month supply, we'd gladly take a per-box price of $36.99. Many retailers require you to buy a one-year supply to get a significant discount, or they don't offer a volume discount at all.
We were prepared to love Lens for their low prices, until we got to the checkout page. Not only would we pay $7.95 for standard shipping (5-7 business days), but there was a hefty $13.39 "processing" fee to boot. Lens proudly explains how they don't pass on their costs by hiding them in what they charge for their contacts - but their per-box prices are already higher than several others. We didn't feel like we were getting any great bargain when our order for two boxes of contacts came to a total over $100!
Vision Test Available - If You Can Find It
Lens offers the same Online Vision Test you'll find with a few of their competitors in our review. Unfortunately, we initially couldn't find anything on the Lens page for that service that would actually let us take it! Finally, we realized that we had to click on the "Buy Now" image for either contacts or glasses in order to start the process. Be aware that you'll have to create an account to enter the Vision Test platform on the site.
You might find several other contact lens websites that are all part of the Lens brand family. These include Just Lenses and 1-800-Get-Lens. However, the Lens site seems to be the most current of them all, based on the fact that we found user reviews on our comparison contact lenses from just a few months prior to our visit to the site.
Lens has an average reputation, demonstrated by their "B" rating and lack of accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, despite being in operation for over two decades.
Better Choices Available
At the end of the day, you'll be able to get the contacts you need from this retailer - but you'll find an easier shopping experience and lower prices with most of the other contact lens stores in our review.
You may also be surprised to see just how many options are available. Multifocal contacts instead of eyeglasses? Yes! Daily lenses that you throw away at the end of the day, eliminating any need for cases and cleansers? That too! While it may take some trial-and-error in the beginning, to find both the prescription and the type of lens that feels most comfortable, it's definitely worth it to take advantage of the convenience and flexibility contacts offer compared with traditional eyeglasses.
With so many online retailers of contact lenses, how can you tell which one to choose for your order? It may be helpful to keep these criteria in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online retailers of contact lenses available today. We hope this information helps you get your contacts quickly and affordably, so that you can see clearly and comfortably for a long time!
Contact lenses have come a long way since the earliest blown-glass creations in the late 1880's. It was not until the 1950's that lenses were crafted that could be worn all day. Even so, lenses were fragile and expensive, and contact lens insurance was common.
The cornea in the eye does not contain blood vessels, so oxygen must be directly absorbed by the cornea from the air. In the late 1970's, doctors developed rigid gas permeable lenses that allow oxygen to pass through the lens material. Also in the 1970's, chemists developed contact lenses made from soft, flexible material, and these have become the most popular types.
Current contact lens research is involved in finding ways to increase oxygen transference to the cornea. Scientists are also working on ways to include antimicrobial ingredients in the lenses themselves. This helps with the identification and prevention of conditions resulting from contamination by foreign organisms and reduces bacterial infection.
Contact lenses must be periodically cleaned, then rinsed and disinfected before reuse. Lenses must also be stored in a liquid solution when not being used, for example overnight. In the past, each of these functions was performed by a separate formulation. More recently, multipurpose cleaning solutions have been developed that perform all these functions. There are even devices that clean and disinfect lenses using ultrasonic, ultraviolet, or vibration. The latest multipurpose solutions are effective against bacterial and fungal growth, and include ingredients to increase surface moisture and provide greater comfort to lens wearers.
Other areas of patient compliance also present a challenge. For example, if lenses designed for daily wear are worn overnight, there is an increased risk of corneal infection. The use of daily disposable lenses helps reduce contamination by inadequate cleaning or improper storage. A lens case lined with silver has been developed to help eliminate germs that might come in contact with the lens case.
Perhaps the most radical and exciting development in contact lenses is the work being done to create "bionic lenses". Still in the testing stage, these lenses include electronic circuits and infrared lights incorporated into the lens material itself to create a virtual display similar to a heads-up display in modern aircraft. Scientists are experimenting with using radio signals to power the lenses instead of conventional power sources, like batteries. With a built-in antenna, these lenses could communicate with a personal computer or other electronic device and be used for playing video games, education, training, or perhaps to provide warnings to people who are hearing-impaired.
Select any 2 Contact Lens Stores to compare them head to head