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This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2020
It can be quite a time-consuming task browsing through various websites looking for a place where you could order your contact lenses online, which is why I have taken the time to carefully do all the research ahead of time for you.
Where to order contact lenses online
Contact lenses can be quite costly, especially since it is a recurring cost, but buying contact lenses online can be a smart way to save yourself time and money. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced contact lens wearer just trying to look for the best deal or a brand new contact lens wearer looking to buy your first box of contacts, buying contact lenses online has never been easier.
As always you should always have a current copy of your contact lens prescription ready because you will need to have it to place your order. Here are some reputable retailers for you to choose from and order your prescription contacts worry-free.
AC Lens is easily always a top pick when it comes to contact lenses. They offer one of the largest selection of contact lens brands that you will be able to find on any website along with some of the best prices on most major brands of contacts. If they don’t have the best price, they offer one of the best price match guarantees by not only matching their competitor’s price but beating the competitor’s price by 5%. To top it all off, AC Lens offers one of the most generous return policies when it comes to contact lenses, giving you 365-days to return any unopened, undamaged, unmarked, and unexpired contacts. The one drawback to AC Lens is that free shipping isn’t offered unless you order over $99, but they do offer international shipping to 100 different countries worldwide.
Discount Contact Lenses
DiscountContactLenses.com is an easy runner up to AC Lens when you are looking at online contact lens retailers. As a sister company to AC Lens, they also offer one of the largest selection of contact lenses along with some of the most affordable prices available online. They also offer a competitive price match guarantee of beating their competitor’s price by 5%. Their return policy is quite similar as well and one of the best by giving you the 365-days to return any unopened, undamaged, unmarked, and unexpired contacts. LIke AC Lens, they also don’t offer free shipping unless your total order is over $99. International shipping is also available to 100 different countries worldwide.
Lens Direct is one of the oldest companies on this list and actually started out as a mail-order contact lens company, but with the introduction of the internet, they quickly evolved into one of the most reputable online eyewear retailers. Lens Direct offers a smaller selection of contact lenses compared to other online retailers but they are one of the few online retailers that offer the convenience of renewing your contact lens prescription online. Along with that they also have an AutoRefill service in which you can use to have contact lenses automatically shipped to you. Subscribing to the AutoRefill service saves you an additional 5% off your contacts. Lens Direct also has a generous return policy in which you can return any unopened boxes or glass vials of contact lenses in their original condition up to 365 days after the delivery day.
Another great place to order your contact lenses is no other than America’s largest drug store chain Walgreens. Walgreens carries all of your most common contact lens types and most of the major brands available on the market today. The prices for contacts at Walgreens is closer to the market average for most brands, however, Walgreens consistently runs great promotions for contact lenses so you can still get them at fantastic prices. What makes Walgreens stand out is their return policy. They do not give you a timeframe in which you have to return your contact lenses as long as the boxes are unopened, unexpired, undamaged, and currently carried and sold by Walgreens.
Started out as exclusively an online retailer for contact lenses, Coastal today offers contact lenses as well as prescription glasses. They offer a large selection of contact lenses and have most major brands of contact lenses available. If you find the contact lenses from another authorized online retailer at a lower price, Costal will price match for a discount maximum up to $100 per order. Compared to most other retailers Coastal has quite a short return policy, giving you only 30 days to return any unopen, undamaged and unexpired contacts.
Lens.com has one of the best, if not the best selection of contact lenses you can find anywhere online. That goes along with exceptional customer service and great pricing. Similar to Lens Direct they also offer a way for you to renew your contact lens prescription online. But the thing that really makes Lens.com stands out compared to any other online retailer is their selection of special effects contact lenses. These contact lenses give you the ability to change your eye color to give the final touches on those Halloween or cosplay costumes. Depending on what your prescription is, you may be able to get these special effect contact lenses with your prescription as well. Unlike many other online retailers, Lens.com does not price match, but their prices are fairly reasonable in the first place. They also have one of the best return policies offering a no-hassle return your contact lenses any time as long as they are unopened, undamaged, and unexpired.
How to order contacts online with insurance
If you have vision insurance benefits you may be able to apply your insurance benefits directly to your order so less money comes out of your pocket. Whether or not you will be able to use your insurance benefits online depends on who your vision insurance provider is, and whether or not there is an online retailer that accepts that insurance. Ordering your contacts online with insurance is easy, simply plug in your information, select your contacts and the websites automatically deduct what your plan would cover if your specific plan is accepted online.
Here is a list of retailers that allows you to apply your vision insurance benefits directly to your order online.
Eyeconic is the official online retailer for vision insurance company Vision Service Plan or commonly referred to as VSP. Eyeconic was originally a website that was operating exclusively for its VSP members but has since expanded to include anyone that resides within the United States. Eyeconic offers most of the most popular brands of contact lenses and offers free expedited shipping on all their orders. They also offer a price match guarantee and will price match, authorized retailers, if you happen to find a lower price for up to 30 days after your purchase. Eyeconic has a shorter return policy when compared to most other online retailers giving you only 30 days to return your contacts. However, if your prescription changes within 6 months of the shipping date you can provide Eyeconic with your updated prescription and they will exchange your contact lens boxes that are unopened with your updated prescription.
Eyeconic accepts the following insurance plans online: VSP, MetLife, and Cigna Vision.
Another reputable online retailer that accepts vision insurance benefits online is Contacts Direct. Like most online retailers Contacts Direct offers the most popular and is among the first retailers online to get brand new lenses such as the recently released new Acuvue Oasys with Transitions. Contacts Direct does price match, but they only specifically price match 1800Contacts, Coastal Contacts, Walmart Contacts, Walgreens, and Costco (with a valid membership). Standard shipping is free with every order, and returns can be made up to a year from the purchase date as long as the boxes are unopened, undamaged, and not defaced in any way.
Contacts Direct accepts the following insurance plans online: EyeMed, SuperiorVision, Aetna, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Humana, and much more. Visit their website to check if your plan is accepted.
Did you know Target had an Optical department? If you didn’t you’re not alone, this is more than likely because there isn’t a Target Optical in every Target across the nation. Their website is amazing and allows you to use your vision insurance benefits and apply it directly to your order. They have in stock most major contact lens brands, and like Contacts Direct they are up to date with the latest contact lens offerings. They offer a 90-day hassle-free return policy on their contacts with the usual stipulation that the boxes are unopened, undamaged and unexpired.
Target Optical accepts the following insurance plans online: EyeMed, Humana, Aetna, Blue View Vision, Ameritas, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, EmblemHealth, SCAN Health Plan. Health Net, Tricare, Envolve Vision, Allways Health. and much more. Visit their website to check if your plan is accepted.
Everyone knows who Lenscrafters is, after all, you can find one at nearly every large mall across the nation. They are Luxottica Group’s most well know retail brand and has a fantastic website to complement their retail locations by adding extra convenience for their customers. If you have vision insurance benefits you can apply your benefits directly to your order and only pay the out of pocket expenses. Lenscrafters only offers a 30 day 100% satisfaction guarantee for any returns or exchanges on your contacts.
Lenscrafters accepts the following insurance plans online: EyeMed, Aetna, Humana, Blue View Vision, Ameritas, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Tricare, SCAN Health Plan, and much more. Visit their website to check if your plan is accepted.
Different types of contact lenses?
Contact lenses come in many different types of lenses. Technology and innovation have provided us with many recent advancements when it comes to contact lenses. Most notably recently the contact lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology. There are soft, hard, or in between. Other options including the type of lenses whether it is a multifocal, or toric lens for those with astigmatism. Then, of course, there are options that are relating to how long you are able to use each lens. Here are some different types of contact lenses that you may encounter.
- Disposable Soft – This is the most common type of contact lens that you will encounter these days. Soft contact lenses are generally designed to be worn anywhere between one day all the way up to 30 days depending on the type of lens. These lenses have high water content and have good oxygen permeability allowing oxygen to reach your cornea while the lenses are on.
- Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) – These lenses were introduced in 1979 and is made up of a silicone-acrylate combination. These lenses are also known as oxygen lenses, and are quite durable and can last for a long time with the proper handling and care.
- Hard – When these lenses have first introduced these lenses were literally made out of glass before the discovery of Plexiglass. These lenses are still made this way due to the quality of the lenses but are not commonly used due to the discomfort and lack of oxygen flow.
- Daily Wear – Daily wear contact lenses have become more popular in recent years due to the fact that you get a fresh pair of contact lenses every single day. These lenses are designed to be worn for only a single day and tossed at the end of the day. These lenses are generally thinner than biweekly and monthly contacts and are designed to be as comfortable as possible.
- Biweekly and Monthly – Biweekly and Monthly contact lenses are generally soft contact lenses that are designed to be worn and taken out every single day for consecutive days for either two weeks or a month.
- Spherical – These contact lenses are simple prescriptions that do not have a multifocal or astigmatism correction. These are generally used to treat myopia, hyperopia, as well as presbyopia.
- Astigmatism (Toric) – These lenses are weighted on one side to rotate and stay in a certain direction correct astigmatism. Astigmatism contact lenses generally have a limit on how high it can go for most brands. If you have really strong astigmatism your eye doctor will help you find a brand that has parameters to fit.
- Multifocal (Bifocal) – Multifocal or bifocal contact lenses are used to help individuals who have presbyopia. These lenses have two or more correction that gradually blends throughout the contact lenses to help you with your near vision. These contact lenses allow you to be able to see distance as well as your up-close vision clearly, allowing you to do your day to day activities.
- Colored – These contact lenses give you the ability to alter your eye color. These contact lenses allowed individuals to change their eye color to whichever color your preference was. These lenses are popular even for those that do not require a prescription to correct their vision. These lenses can provide a drastic change in eye color or simply be an enhancer to your current eye color.
- Scleral – These contact lenses are large contacts that rest on the sclera and it creates a tear-filled vault over your eyes. These lenses are generally used to treat a variety of eye conditions however there are special effects colored contact lenses that are made like this to give you the most intense and breathtaking looks.
Contact lenses for astigmatism
Have you ever looked in one of those mirrors that make you super tall, super short, super-wide, or super thin? For those of us with astigmatism, that is the closest comparison to what our vision might look like.
Astigmatism is when there is an imperfection in the curvature of your eye’s cornea or the lens. When this happens instead of the cornea focusing light ways sharply onto your retina at the back of your eye, the light rays are not focused correctly which leaves you with blurry vision for distance vision as well as near.
Depending on your prescription, your doctor may or may not prescribe you contact lenses that correct astigmatism. Contact lenses that correct astigmatism have different powers in different meridians of the lens to correct the varying amount of nearsightedness or farsightedness. The lenses are also designed so that they properly rotate to the correct direction that they need to be so that the different meridians have the correct power they need.
Ultimately your eye doctor will be the one that determines which contact lens brand is the best for your astigmatism.
Cosmetic Halloween contact lenses
If you are looking for Halloween, cosmetic, or special effects contact lenses to help you put that final touch on that Halloween costume or cosplay costume make sure you are buying from a reputable retailer that offers FDA approved colored contacts.
While it may be tempting to purchase those inexpensive color contact lenses at your local Halloween store or flea market, those contact lenses are unregulated by the FDA and could potentially be contaminated with bacteria or other toxins. This could increase your risk of developing a serious eye infection.
If you remember from above Lens.com offers a large selection of Halloween/Special Effects contact lenses. They offer everything from contact lenses that glow in the dark, some that are inspired by some of the most popular movies, they even have those scleral contact lenses that cover your entire eye and could take your costume to the next level.
Which contact lenses are the best?
There many different types of contact lenses available on the market today and each type of contact lens has a wide variety of different brands made by different manufacturers. Which contact lens is best for you will ultimately be determined by your eye doctor when you go for your contact lens exam and fitting. Contact lenses are not a one-size-fits-all, and there is no one brand of contact lenses that is the best brand for all wearers.
Each individual’s eyes are different and factors that will determine which contact lenses will be best for you include.
- Power – Just like with eyeglass lenses there are power limitations on contact lenses and depending on how strong your prescription is, your eye doctor will put you in the type of brand that has your power available. Not every type of contact lens is available in all power ranges.
- Diameter – The diameter of the contact lenses determines how the contact lenses center itself on your cornea. This is completely determined by the shape of your eyes and is important to have proper lens centration and properly fit on your eyes.
- Base Curve – This is the curve that is on the back surface of the contact lens and should be as close as possible to the curvature of the surface of your cornea. If you have a contact lens that does not have the proper base curve the contact lens could possibly be to loose on your eyes and move around not giving you the sharpest clarity or potentially be too tight on your eyes and cause discomfort. By having a base curve that is the closest to the curve of your eyes you give your eyes smooth contact with the lens to provide you with sharp and undistorted vision.
- Lens Material – Depending on which type of lens your eye doctor ultimately fits you with, some lens materials are designed to prove your eyes with more oxygen allowing you to wear the contacts for extended periods of time. Some lenses retain moisture better allowing for better wearing comfort for longer periods of time, even if you do not wear them overnight.
- Wearing Schedule – Depending on your eye health your eye doctor may recommend daily contact lenses in which you wear and throw away every single day as oppose to a lens in which you wear continuously for two weeks (bi-weekly), or a lens that you wear continuously for a month (monthly). For example, if you are someone who is susceptible to calcium build up on your contact lenses your eye doctor may recommend a daily lens instead of biweekly or monthly lenses. It is important to follow the wearing schedule provided by your eye doctor.
- Astigmatism – If you have astigmatism your contact lens brands will be limited to whichever brand makes the power that you need. If you have strong astigmatism like me your options for contact lens brands can be quite limited. Your eye doctor will determine what your options are when you go have your exam done for contact lenses.
There is no guessing which contact lenses is best for you when you go get your contact lens exam and fitting your doctor will let you know which contact lens is best for you. Feel free to ask your doctor if there are any types of contact lenses you would like to try for example if you are wearing biweekly contacts and would like to switch to daily contacts. Your doctor will check your prescription and what the parameters the contact lenses are available in and will determine if those contacts will work for you.
Contact lenses and dry eyes
Back in the day if you had dry eyes you generally were considered not a good candidate for contact lenses. With the advancements in the technology of contact lenses that truly no longer is the case. Manufacturers have introduced technologies that help reduce contact lens-induced dry eye symptoms.
If you do find you do find your eyes to dry out with your contact lenses in, there are over the counter eye drops that may provide some short term relief. These drops called rewetting drops, comfort drops, or artificial tears. Any of those can provide you with temporary relief from dry eye symptoms. Ask your eye doctor which brand is best for your individual case.
How many hours a day can you wear contacts?
This is a question that should be brought up during your contact lens exam and fitting. Your eye doctor will be the one to ultimately determine how long you should be wearing your contact lenses in any given day. If your eye doctor did not give you a specific range, it is generally recommended that you don’t do not wear your contact lenses for any longer than 10-12 hours a day. It is always a great idea when to get home to pop those prescription glasses on to give your eyes a break. There is definitely the exception of those that are wearing approved extended wear lenses in which you can keep in your eyes for up to 30 days ultimately decided by your eye doctor during your exam.
Is it safe to wear contact lenses every day?
Contact lenses are safe to wear as long as you are following all of the proper handling and care of contact lenses that are generally recommended. Contact lenses should be cleaned properly and store in fresh contact lens solution every single day. This ensures that your contact lenses feel fresh and new every single day.
If you are wearing your contact lenses every day, be sure to follow the wearing schedule that is provided by your eye doctor. Failing to clean and store your contact lenses properly, or wearing them longer than their recommended duration could increase the risk of getting an eye infection. Follow your eye doctors recommendations carefully if you are going to be a full-time contact lens wearer.
Can you shower with contacts in?
It is not okay to shower with your contact lenses in or participate in any other activity in which your contact lenses could potentially get wet. Activities such as swimming, showering, or jumping in the hot tub should not be done with your contact lenses on.
Just recently a woman in the United Kingdom with the habit of swimming and showering with her contact lenses in had a serious consequence when she developed rare eye infection which tested positive for a parasite called Acanthamoeba keratitis. This left her vision at the threshold for being legally blind in the left eye and her right eye was not affected.
Therefore you should never clean your contact lenses with tap water, swim, or shower with them on. If you insist on swimming with your contact lenses be sure to use goggles that are airtight and do not let any water in, and I wouldn’t reuse those contact lenses after swimming with them.
Can you sleep with contact lenses?
It is generally not recommended for you to sleep with your contact lenses. The exception to this is if you are wearing extended wear contact lenses that have been approved for you to wear overnight by your eye doctor.
Sleeping in contact lenses that have not been approved for overnight wear will increase your risk of getting an eye infection. It is important to give your cornea a break and time to breathe to reduce this risk. When your eye does not get the oxygen it needs your eyes start to swell up and become inflamed. This process causes weak spots in your cornea in which bacteria to make its way through and increase your risk of a bacterial infection.
How much do contacts cost?
How much your contact lenses will cost will ultimately be determined by the brand and type of contact lense your eye doctor fits you with. Customized RGP lenses are made to order and you purchase each individual lens which usually costs around $30-$60 each depending on the lens manufacturer.
For soft contact lenses, the cost will vary depending on the type. Daily contact lenses will generally cost more over the course of the prescription as opposed to biweekly and monthly contacts. Daily contact lenses can start anywhere between $20 for a 30 pack all the way up to $80 a box for a 90 pack depending on the type of contact lenses you will be using. Biweekly and monthly contacts could cost anywhere between $20 and $60 a box depending on type and brand of contacts. Contact lenses that correct astigmatism or multifocal contact lenses will generally be more expensive than your standard spherical contacts.
Ultimately which type will be determined by your eye doctor, but if you do find that your brand of contacts is more expensive then you wanted to spend you can always ask your eye doctor if there is a more affordable alternative that you could use. Keep in mind that there may not be a more affordable alternative depending on your individual prescription.
Can you order contacts without a prescription?
If you reside within the United States, you will have a hard time finding a reputable retailer that will sell you contact lenses without a prescription. The FDA classifies contact lenses as medical devices, therefore any reputable retailer that is selling contacts will want to verify that you indeed have a current contact lens prescription.
If your contact lens prescription has expired, depending on your prescription you may be able to save time and money by utilizing one of the online prescription renewal services that is provided by retailers such as Lens.com and Lens Direct. Those retailers allow you to submit an online vision test and afterward an offsite eye doctor will review your results and issue you an updated prescription. There are limitations to this service when it comes to power ranges and you must feel as if your prescription is still working for you as well. however, these services will not be able to change your prescription if your current prescription is not working for you, but only provide you an updated prescription if your prescription still feels good.
Here in the United States contact lens prescriptions generally have an expiration date of 1 year from the date of your exam. Due to the nature of contact lenses residing on your actual eye, doctors will want to make sure that your eyes are healthy enough to wear contact lenses. Laws and regulations vary by state, but generally, contact lens prescriptions expire within a year.
How long are contacts good for?
Contact lens are packaged with expiration dates because they are a medical device and has a way of protecting the consumer. Expiration dates are printed on the side of the boxes for contact lenses and will have an expiration date approximately 4 years away from the manufacture and packaging date.
Contact lenses should not be used after their expiration date. The date indicates the timeframe in which the contact lens in the container is considered free from contamination and safe to wear. Because the contact lenses touch your eyes they have the ability to cause potential harm if they are contaminated.
How to care for contact lenses
Using the proper handling and care process that is recommended by your eye doctor is vital for your eye health. How you are going to be taking care of your contact lenses ultimately depends on the type of contact lens that you are prescribed, but here are some guidelines that your doctor will more than likely recommend.
- Clean your hands – Before handing your contact lenses you should always make sure that you wash, rinse, and dry your hands with a lint-free towel before handling your contact lenses. Bacteria can easily transfer from your hands onto the contact lenses if you don’t wash your hands before handling them. Be sure to use hand soap that is free of oils, lotions or perfumes.
- Use fingertips – Do not handle your contact lenses with your fingernails or anything sharp such as tweezers. Always use your fingertips to gently handle your contact lenses.
- Makeup after contacts – If you wear makeup make sure that you put on your makeup after you have already put your contact lenses in and before removing your makeup, take your contact lenses out first.
- Hairspray before contacts – If you are planning on using hairspray, it is recommended to put on your hairspray before you put your contact lenses in.
- No tap water – Never rinse your contact lenses with tap water. Tap water can be the home to nasty bugs that could potentially cause an eye infection and could lead to potential vision loss.
- No saliva – You should never put a contact lens in your mouth to rinse it. As disgusting as it sounds there are more people that do this than you would imagine. Your mouth is full of bacteria that could easily be absorbed into your contact lenses and lead to a bad eye infection.
- Keep-case clean – You should always clean your contact lens case every time you use it. For me, I just cleaned it every time I put my contact lenses in and let the case air dry. By the time I got home, the case was ready to go. You should also replace your contact lens case every 3 months. Contact lens cases can be the home to bacteria if not properly cleaned and replaced when needed.
- Clean contact lenses – You can clean your contact lenses by rubbing it gently with your index finger in the palm of your other hand. This helps reduce the buildup that is happening on the surface of your contacts.
Are contact lenses better than glasses?
There is truly no right or wrong answer here. This question ultimately comes down to whether you like contact lenses or glasses better. It also depends on what you do on a day-to-day basis. Your lifestyle, occupation, budget, comfort, and style all factor into which you decide is best for you.
Which one you like better could change over the years depending on how your lifestyle changes.
Glasses has its own set of pros and cons, and as do contact lenses.
For me, eyeglasses are just easier. I can simply wake up, put my glasses on half asleep and I’m ready to go. There is no need for me to worry about washing my hands and drying them properly before putting my contacts on. Of course, you don’t need to do those things, but it does decrease your risk of getting a serious eye infection. Glasses are also more affordable and there is only a one time cost, whereas contact lenses have a constant cost every time you need a refill.
Contact lenses, on the other hand, could provide you with unobstructed vision, and without a pair of glasses hanging on your face you can also participate in sports and other active fast-paced activities such as going to the gym without having to worry about your glasses getting damaged, or falling off your face.
So it really comes down to your own specific needs and your day-to-day lifestyle and of course your personal preference. However, if you are someone who is using prescription contact lenses, it is recommended that you also have a backup pair of glasses. It is good to give your eyes a break in the evening time after wearing contact lenses all day, and in case you have eye irritation or infection and are unable to wear contacts you at least will have a backup way of being able to see. This is even more important if you have a stronger prescription.
Are contact lenses hard to put in?
After you get some practice in, no. It all comes down to practice, practice, and practice. Contact lenses are usually not hard to put in, especially if they were properly fitted. When you go visit your eye doctor for the contact lens exam and fitting, your doctor will determine which size contact lens is best for your specific eyes.
One practice that I have always found to be the most helpful is to make sure that the finger you are going to be handling your contact lens with is completely dry. When you are putting the contact lens on your eye the contact lens is attracted to the moisture on your eye. As you move your finger away the contact lens should stay on your eye. This process becomes much more difficult if there is moisture already on your finger. Therefore, it is best after you wash your hands to use a lint-free towel to completely dry your hands before handling your contact lenses.
Ordering your prescription contact lenses online can be a great way to save yourself a visit to your local optical shop, and could help you save a few extra dollars along the way. Make sure you do your research before making your purchase to ensure you are getting the best deal possible. There are at times where one retailer could be running a promotion on the specific brand of contact lenses that you are wearing and you might be able to find a gem of a deal.
Where do you currently purchase your contact lenses from? How has your experience been with your current retailer? Drop a comment below!