No, you cannot legally buy contact lenses in the United States without a current, valid prescription. We’re very sorry, but it had to be said.
Here’s why. The FDA (responsible for the safety of our food and drugs) categorizes contact lenses as prescription medical devices, not to be sold over-the-counter without a prescription. The FTC (consumer protection and other noble causes) implemented the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act or FCLCA, which mandates that contact lens sellers obtain a copy of or verify your prescription before we can sell you contact lenses. Both great things if you ask us, so we comply with the law and require a prescription before shipping your lenses.
Yes, you still need a prescription. These types of contact lenses can be referred to as decorative, plano, Halloween, or special effects lenses, and are designed purely to change the appearance of the eye. Though they have no vision correcting power, they are regulated medical devices. They have to play by the same rules as your every-day, less colorful contacts.
You will need a current, valid prescription before you order more contacts. A lot can happen to your eyes over a one or two year period that you may not know about unless you see your eye doctor. Also remember that contact lens manufacturers create lenses to be comfortable and safe for specific periods of time. If worn for longer than recommended, lenses may deteriorate or develop protein buildup.
Now you can renew your contact lens prescription online using 1-800 Contacts Online Prescriptions. All you need is 8-10 minutes, your phone, a computer, and $40. This doesn’t replace the eye health examination performed by your doctor. You should still visit an eye doctor at least once every two years to get a comprehensive eye exam. If you just want to renew your prescription, watch our video to learn more.
Ask your eye doctor about trying contacts. Your doctor will help you to find the best possible lens and will make sure they fit correctly. Typically the doctor will see you for a contact lens fitting and examination, and will teach you how take good care of your contacts. Then they will give you a chance to wear them for a week or two to see how they work for you.
But before you visit your eye doctor, check out our contact lens finder to find out what contact lenses are best for your eyes. Then take the list of recommended lenses to the doctor’s office to get things started.
Updated Jun 30th, 2015