The Best Places To Buy Contact Lenses

Learn about the most common and reputable places to buy contact lenses from. Find out if these locations are near you.

With a valid contact lens prescription, you as a consumer can buy your lenses from a number of different places such as eye care practitioner, optical chains like Lens Crafters, mass warehouses like Costco, online retailers, over the phone or by mail. If you choose not to buy your lenses from your eye care practitioner (ECP), it’s up to you to be extremely aware of whom you’re buying from. Contact lens sales are strictly regulated by the FDA and FTC (Federal Trade Commission).

The Importance of Having an Rx

You can’t get into any legal trouble if you were to purchase contact lenses through any retailer without a prescription, but they can. Still, many retailers continue to sell them to anyone willing to buy. To make sure your eyes remain healthy you should not order lenses with a prescription that has expired.

Also, it’s not a good idea to stock up on lenses right before the prescription is about to expire because your eyes could have already changed. It’s much safer to be rechecked by your eye care practitioner. If you have not had a check-up in the last one or two years, you may have problems with your eyes that you are not aware of. This could result in the wrong prescription being given to you, which would only worsen your eye’s health.

Your Optional Retailers

There are good things and bad things about buying contact lenses from any source. Many people look for the prices and deals, but there are other things like availability, customer service, convenience and insurance coverage that must be addressed too.

Eye Care Practitioners offer professional services and bundled packages that include things like the office visits and care products. Prices can range from ECP to ECP, but some of them are able to sell you larger quantities at comparable prices, along with having them shipped directly to you in a considerate amount of time. The only problem you might encounter is finding the right ECP that offers such deals, along with finding an office that’s open later hours and on weekends.

Online Retailers allow you to buy anytime of day, any day of the week. This convenience can have consequences though if you’re not careful in the selection of a good retail store. Only buy from an online retailer that you trust or that has very good reviews by a majority of customers. Online retailers can makes mistakes and ship incorrect prescription contact lenses and need to be checked. Some have terrible customer service and some may even try to cut cost by sending out almost expired contact lenses. Besides the huge risk you’re taking, the other problem you might encounter is the extra expenses it will cost you to ship you’re lenses. Plus, you won’t have the convenience of having them right away unless you pay extra money for overnight shipping.

Optical chains like Lens Crafters and Walmart are a great place to buy your contacts from since most locations are able to fit you for your lenses on site. They also offer you eye exams and usually have a large supply of lenses on site at affordable prices. If you already have a current prescription and need lenses today, you would be able to purchase and receive your lenses right then and there. Another convenience when purchasing from this type of store is the hours of operations tend to be later in the evening, as well as open on weekends. The problem with this option is that these retailers tend only to carry contact lens that the majority of people tend to have and prescriptions that are not carried have to be ordered.

Mass warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club have optical departments similar to optical chains. They usually have an ECP on site, along with a large variety of types of lenses, longer hours of operations and the convenience of purchasing and receiving your lenses that day.

Where Not to Buy Your Contacts

If you find an online site you think is illegally selling contact lenses over the internet, you should definitely report it to FDA or FTC or, if you don’t get the exact lenses you ordered, you should report the problem directly to the company that supplied them.

You shouldn’t have a problem like this buying from your ECP or from an optical chain or mass warehouse. Be careful of online retailers as there is no direct contact with the company and receiving the proper contact lens can take hours of dealing with customer service. Another important thing you should consider once you receive your lenses but before you wear them is the label. There are specific items on the label that must be there by law. If they’re not, you might have a problem. Look for these things and make sure they are correct before you wear your lenses:

  • Your name
  • Examination date
  • Date you receive your prescription after a contact lens fitting (issue date) and expiration date of prescription
  • Name, address, phone number and fax number of seller
  • Power
  • Material and/or manufacturer of the prescribed contact lens
  • Base curve or appropriate designation of the prescribed contact lens
  • Diameter, when appropriate, of the prescribed contact lens
  • For a private label contact lens, the name of the manufacturer, trade name of the private label brand, and if applicable, trade name of equivalent brand name

It might seem like a lot of information to double check, but remember, it’s your vision, not theirs. All of these items are specifically regulated by the FTC, and any seller can get into a great deal of legal trouble if they’re not properly labeling lenses.

This article was last updated on 01/2013