One of the most common questions people have when considering contact lenses is: “How much do contacts cost?” It seems like a simple question but the answer is complicated. It usually starts with: “Well, that depends…”
Trying to describe the price of contact lenses would be like trying to describe how much a pair of shoes cost. The price of a pair of shoes depends on the material quality, how long they’ll last, the reputation of the manufacturer/designer, how you’ll use them, and where you buy them. The cost of contact lenses depends on some of these same characteristics.
Contact lenses come in a few different box sizes. Each lens design has a replacement schedule, or how long you should wear it before replacing with a new pair. The best way to compare the cost of contacts is to look at the price of an annual supply, rather than the price of a box.
Factors affecting the cost of contact lenses
Soft, disposable contacts are the most popular and most prescribed lenses on the market. Most of them are designed to be replaced every day, every two weeks, or every month. Daily disposable lenses are safer and more convenient since they never need solution or cleaning. You start with a fresh, clean lens every day. They tend to be slightly more expensive than 2 week or monthly disposable lenses.
There are good contact lens options for people who have astigmatism that weren’t able wear contacts in the past. Lenses that correct astigmatism tend to be more expensive than those without astigmatism correction. There are soft, disposable lenses that correct wide ranges of astigmatism. They come in daily disposable, 2 week disposable or monthly disposable replacement schedules.
At some point around the age of 40, our eyes lose some of their ability to focus. We start needing a little extra help seeing to read. In the past, some people had to give up wearing contacts when they started to need reading correction. Or they had to wear reading glasses over their contact lenses. As technology has improved, there are better options for lens wearers to have clear vision at all distances, even after age 40. These “multifocal” lenses come in many different designs. They’re available in daily disposable, 2 week disposable or monthly disposable replacement schedules. Multifocal contacts tend to be more expensive than contacts that don’t have extra reading correction.
Contact lenses come in different materials. Most of the newer soft disposable lenses on the market are made of different types of “silicon hydrogel” materials. These allow for better oxygen transmission or “breathability”, which improves eye health and comfort.
Some contact lens materials are better than others for people who have dry eyes or develop deposits on their lenses. Most of the newer, healthier, more comfortable lenses are more expensive than older design lens materials.
Once you receive your contacts prescription, you can use it to buy lenses anywhere you want. There can be differences in the cost of lenses depending on where you buy them. Price varies whether it’s your doctor’s office, a big box retailer, or an online seller like 1-800 Contacts.
Some contact lens manufacturers offer rebates on lenses. These rebates vary in amount and availability throughout the year. It’s worth checking to see if there are any rebates available when you buy your lenses.
Some contact lenses change your eye color. They tend to be more expensive than equivalent lenses that do not change your eye color.
A lot of factors can affect the cost of contact lenses. The good news is that contact lenses in general are affordable. They provide clear vision and greater comfort for almost anyone who wants to wear them. And probably for less money than most people spend on shoes every year.
Updated Oct 9th, 2017