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Ask DSM Readers: Saving Money On Contact Lenses

by Tara Kuczykowski on January 21, 2009 · 31 comments

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Malkav

Andie emailed me to ask for some tips on how to save money on contacts.

"Do you have any hints regarding buying soft contacts, or do you have readers who could hook up the rest of us?"

Unfortunately, I don't wear them myself, so I don't have much in the way of money-saving tips on this topic.

So do you have any tips on the best way to save on contact lenses? I'm looking forward to learning from your tips, and I'm sure other readers will benefit greatly!

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 PrincessJulie January 21, 2009 at 1:27 am

I have lots of experience purchasing contacts----Walmart & Costco sell great lenses and they're cheap. I know that Costco has great sale on all contacts 1-2 times a year. Wal & Cost carry the same brands as your doctor for a fraction of the price AND its easier to just pick up a new box while your shopping if needed. :D I have not found coupons for contacts....but I've heard that 1800Contacts runs specials sometimes....?

PrincessJulie´s last blog post..wow. she's so talented.

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2 Jenni January 21, 2009 at 1:59 am

I highly recommend visiondirect.com. They are on Ebates, they participate in the drugstore.com dollars and they periodically run free shipping on any purchase. At least for my brand of contacts they were a great deal.

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3 Dawn January 21, 2009 at 6:19 am

I always use discountcontactlenses.com. I have found they are less expensive than Walmart and you can often get rebates on popular brands. They have free shipping for orders over $89. Readers can try coupon code EMRC5 to get $5 off $50.

Dawn´s last blog post..Review of Covergirl Lipstain

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4 Thrifty & Chic Mom January 21, 2009 at 7:47 am

1800 contacts is pretty reasonable and does run specials.

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5 Dana January 21, 2009 at 7:51 am

I have always found the best prices on my contacts through visiondirect.com . To get the best price I typically have to buy a year's worth of my two week lenses all at once though.

Great post! I'm looking forward to hearing responses from others. Maybe there's an even better deal out there that someone will share.

Dana´s last blog post..Kroger: Mega Event and More

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6 Jennifer January 21, 2009 at 8:15 am

I also recommend visiondirect.

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7 Lydia January 21, 2009 at 8:33 am

I recently ordered from ContactLensKing.com. They verify your Rx with your doctor and then ship immediately. I received my box within a week. There is no shipping on any orders only a flat $4.95 handling fee. My friend orders from there as well, so I can say we have found the site to be reliable. Price was far less than my doctor's office and Wal-Mart (These are typically $31, plus shipping, and $26, plus a 3 week order time, respectively. I purchased my box for $21.)

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8 Rebekah January 21, 2009 at 8:37 am

Talk to your eye doctor about wearing the lenses longer than the box recommends. I wear Acuvue Advance lenses and was told, by the dr, that as long as I took care of them like long wear lenses, taking them out every night and such, they can be worn as long as they're comfortable! The reasoning is that they're basically the same lenses as long wear lenses but when you wear them extendedly, like overnight with out cleaning or days with just using a no rub solution, they're too dirty to be safe or comfy!

Again, talk with your doctor about your lenses .. but I generally get at least 4-6 weeks out of one pair of contacts. I buy at Sams Club for around $15 a box since I only buy 2-3 boxes a year the websites aren't a great deal for me!

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9 tabatha January 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

Check with your doctor about a cheaper alternative. Acuvue lenses are higher priced than the competing alternative and don't offer much retail markup room. I have found the alternatives just as comfortable for my eyes and certainly my wallet. Also, ask about rebates for ordering in bulk with both your doctor and the manufacturer. I was able to get 8 boxes of my lenses for 152-55MIR=102 -- Just over $12/box and I won't have to think about them again for the rest of the year.

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10 Kim F. January 21, 2009 at 9:00 am

I always buy from 1800contacts. They have the easiest return policy if your prescription should change. I always stock up when I find a good deal and don't have to fear returning them if my script changes. Here's the best deal about 1800contacts. They will beat any online price by 10%. This summer, I found my contact lenses cheapest on contactlensking.com, so I called 1800contacts, gave them that price, and I saved a bundle. So...1800contacts is not always the cheapest, but they have the best price matching and return policy. They even pay for you to return any unused packages.

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11 ashleyD! January 21, 2009 at 9:48 am

my doctor price matches any online price i can find. i couldn't believe it! give the doc a call and check to see if he does the same.

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12 Lachelle January 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

You can buy contacts pretty cheap at lensdiscounters.com.

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13 Swap Savers January 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

Every year I do an Internet search to find out the best price since the offers are always changing. You have to make sure everything is equal as well (sometimes they include a rebate in the price). I have bought from different on-line places every year since some of the places offer a "new sign up deal". This year I bought through Lensmart and used Cashbaq (I earned 10% cash back) and Lensmart had a coupon for 15% off your first order (when you are new) so I got my best deal yet!

Swap Savers´s last blog post..Brandias commented on the blog post double stroller

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14 andie January 21, 2009 at 11:07 am

Wow! Thank you all! Great suggestions, and it looks like I might have helped others as well!
We girls do ROCK!

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15 Nicole (SAHM Reviews) January 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I've worn contacts since I was a kid (which I'm waayy not any more). When I found out that my employer covered a portion of my contacts, I opted for the more expensive Focus Night/Day that you can leave in for 30 days straight. Since I was used to wearing them only during the day, I continued that. My eye doctor said that I could wear them for up to 60 days before replacing since I wasn't wearing them at night. I only have to buy a few boxes per year and usually take advantage of when they run the specials or rebates on the Focus Night/Day.

First point - See if your employer covers any eye care products.
Second point - Check into a Medical Savings account to take advantage of the tax aspect of your purchase.
Third point - Don't look just at inexpensive options - more expensive ones have huge advantages too. You pay more for each box but you buy boxes less often.

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16 Stephanie January 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Another place to look for savings is at the cost of the solutions/ saline. I don't have an FSA anymore but if you do - great. Make sure you maximize that. I have a specific cleanser I use but realized that I was using it all the time - even when all I needed was to rinse my lens and that didn't 'need' to happen. Buy a store brand or get a good deal on your regular saline to use for rinsing and don't use your 'good' No-Rub/ Cleanser/ All-in-One for every thing you need. Sure, you'll have more bottles in your cabinet but the price difference is dramatic.

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17 Heather January 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Thank you so much for these posts. For the past few months I have opted to wear my contacts to save money. These tips are going to really come in handy!

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18 Cindy B. in Montana January 21, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I've had good luck with 1-800-contacts in the past. For the last few years I've found the cheapest prices at Costco. The lenses I use have to be special ordered, so if you don't see them listed be sure to ask!

Cindy B. in Montana´s last blog post..Inauguration Day

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19 GRACE January 21, 2009 at 5:51 pm

What about websites for eye glasses..I wear contacts but, would like back up eye glasses..any recommendations on websites?

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20 Alisa January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Grace- I have heard great things about zennioptical.com. I usually spend over $400 on my glasses because my prescription is really high. I just ordered some from the above website for $70. I haven't received them yet. I am crossing my fingers that they are at least durable to wear with 3 little kids around.

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21 Rachel Zobell January 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I use 1800 contacts they will price match ANY online retailer and give you an additional 2% off your total. Definitely a great deal!

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22 Stacey January 21, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I wear Focus Dailies and I haven't found anyone that can beat Sams Club price for them. I used to order them online from lens1st and another place, but Sams Club has been cheaper.

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23 Sarah Greenway January 21, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I get my contacts at Sam's Club.
They are at least half the price the Dr office charges.
Good thing is...you DO NOT need a membership to purchase them! Or any prescription for that matter.

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24 Theresa January 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

I understand wanting to get the best price you can on contact lenses. I am always looking for the best prices on everything I buy and if I wore contact lenses they would be no different. I have to caution you guys after reading some of these comments. Contact lenses are a medical device. You CAN do permanent damage to your eyes by overwearing them or using a brand that was not prescribed for you. I have seen these things myself because I have worked in eyecare for over 15 years.
I agree with the posts that say to talk with your doctor. A lot of contact lens companies offer rebates that make the lenses the same price as some of the discount companies. If your doctor is unable to help you with a rebate ask him/her to change you to a different brand that offers rebates. You should only wear your lenses for the length of time your doctor recommends. They recommend them that way for a reason and just because one person can wear a lens for longer doesn't mean everyone can. Yes, doctors make money from selling contact lenses but they are doctors first. Their most important priority should be for you to have healthy eyes. If you feel they are not interested in your eye health and in only making money you need to get a different doctor.
It is fine to use discount companies as long as you know you are getting the correct lenses. I know some companies will change you to a cheaper brand without even telling you about it. It is very scary to me to know that people are getting lenses without using a prescription. First of all, that is illegal. Secondly, each lens fits differently and again, you can do permanent damage to your eye by wearing lenses incorrectly.
I know it costs money because your eye doctor will require you to have an exam every 1-2 years to get a new rx but compare that price to not having vision. Would you take the same risks with a medical device for your child?
I am sorry to go on and on but people do not realize the risks involved with contact lenses. Again, I understand needing to save money but make sure you do it in a way that will keep you healthy. And by the way, I work for a surgeon, we do not sell glasses or contact lenses so I am not saying any of this to promote what I do.

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25 Cher January 21, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Well I was very upset with Walmart prices as they are usually the cheapest so I purchased my first 3 month supply from them and then came home and on a hunch I checked 1800 contacts and they were $30 cheaper! I wear Acuve Oasys for Astigmatism.

Cher´s last blog post..Happy Baby Organic GIVEAWAY!!!! (Ends 2/2)

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26 Ife Oshun (ThriftyWAHM.com) January 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Yep, I can vouch for Costco, where you can also get a reasonably priced eye exam as well.

Ife Oshun (ThriftyWAHM.com)´s last blog post..The Fight Against Domestic Abuse

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27 Laraine January 22, 2009 at 8:35 am

I use 1800contacts.com. I just recently bought a years' supply for myself and my husband and used our FSA debit card to purchase these online. I also bought some contact lens solution here too.

Also CVS runs contact lens solutions free/discounted after ECB's all the time. I currently have about a years' supply in my closet. You can also use your FSA dollars to pay for contact lens solutions!

Laraine´s last blog post..CVS trip 1.20.09; $8.70 OP, received $8 ECBS

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28 Lori January 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm

The Lenscrafters chain of eye stores will match any online contact lens price and since you are buying in person you don't have to pay shipping. Every year before my eye exam I search around to find the best price for my contact lenses, print out the pricing page from the web site and bring it to Lenscrafters with me. I always buy a years supply so I can get the manufacturer's rebate for buying 8 boxes at a time.

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29 yvonne January 24, 2009 at 11:54 am

I agree w/ the lady that works for the dr.If they will sell you contacts w/ out a persription i would stay away. Ive been wearing contacts for almost 38 yrs ever since i was 10. I had cataracts in both eyes.I do wear my gas perms continuously even tho im not suppose to. Im glad i read this post to find out about the day/overnight contacts. Ive gotta have an exam this yr to get my contacts replaced because its been over a yr.

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30 Liz Harwood August 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I swear by Daysoft Dailies. You can order them online and cost about $15.00 for one month. The company is super customer friendly. They are made by the guy who developed Acuviews and started his own company.
http://www.daysoftcontactlenses.com

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31 chemgal August 31, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hey ladies. Love that your tips include places to save money purchasing your contacts. Please, please, please, don't let this be an area you scrimp on. I am going to have an eye removed in a few weeks due to damage that is traced back to contact lenses. Contact lenses, even when fitted properly by an optometrist, cause the cornea to have small scratches and scraps. These then become prone to parasites and bacteria. Do not scrimp on your cleaners either!! Never just top off your solution, never use it after the expiration date, and never use home made solutions. Water and contacts should never come in contact with each other. If you wear contacts, tap water is your enemy. Do not wear your lenses longer than they are designed - and honestly, even if an optometrist says you can, most opthamologists will tell you not to do it. Daily wear is the safest bet. Your eyes are not worth saving a few bucks a year - I would even say your eyes are not worth saving tens of thousands a year. How much are your eyes worth?

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