Whether you’re switching to contact lenses for the first time, or you’re trying to get the best contact lens prices without sacrificing value and convenience, here are some tips to make buying contact lenses a better experience.

Before ordering contacts

There are a few things to take care of before you even start shopping around for your contacts:

Eye exam

Protect your vision! Even if you’re getting non-prescription contact lenses for cosmetic or costume purposes, you should consult an eye doctor. With prescription contact lenses for vision correction, your eye doctor will also test your eyes to make sure you get the appropriate correction.


If you just got your eye exam, your eye doctor will give you a copy of your prescription. You can also contact your eye doctor’s office for a copy of your most recent prescription.

Even if you have glasses, you’ll need a separate contact lens prescription. Your glasses sit away from your eyes, while contact lenses rest on their surface, and the different distances affect the level of correction at which you’ll see clearly.


If your health plan includes vision coverage, there are two standard types of contact lens benefits. One gives you a percentage discount at participating outlets and eye doctors’ offices. The other gives you an annual allowance to cover your regular eye examination and contact lenses (or eyeglasses, but usually not both).

Where to buy contact lenses

There are three main sources for ordering contacts, and each has its distinct benefits.

At your eye doctor’s office.

You get convenience and expertise at your eye doctor’s office. Your eye doctor has your prescription on hand, so you don’t have to keep track of it, and you can order on your way out from an eye exam.

Your eye doctor is available as an expert resource, and you can get immediate help and exchanges if your lenses aren’t right for your vision or they feel uncomfortable. There’s no shipping and handling, and you often get a lot of free peripheral items such as contact lens cases or cleaning solution. Many people assume that prices at their eye doctor’s will be more expensive, but this isn’t always the case.

At optical shops or optical departments of major retailers.

There, you get competitive pricing that comes from volume buying. These outlets often also offer eye exams and contact lens fittings if you’re not coming in with your prescription. Evening and weekend hours can also make them more convenient for busy lifestyles.


Buying contact lenses online means you can order contacts at any time of the day or night. Usually, this means there’ll be a wait before your lenses arrive, along with shipping and handling charges. While many legitimate sources sell contacts online, there are also many sources that sell contacts that aren’t U.S. FDA-approved. The higher risk means you need to be a little more diligent when you order contacts online.

Getting the best contact lens prices

Shopping around for the best prices? Here are some things to remember: 

  •      Check prices at all available sources.
  •      Ask your eye doctor about replacement lens pricing.
  •      Get price quotes from brick-and-mortar shops.
  •      Ask each source about available rebates and coupon codes.
  •      Ask about price matching.

Remember, your eye doctor’s first concern is keeping your eyes and vision healthy. He or she can help you figure out what contact lenses are best for your vision and your lifestyle. Even if you buy contact lenses elsewhere, always check in with your eye doctor with any questions about your eyes.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.