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As a near-sighted millennial with a strong aversion to paying retail prices, I have a long history of ordering my contact lenses through the mail.
I’d guess it’s been nearly 20 years since I first plopped my bespectacled-self into the optometrist chair and asked for a contact lens prescription. After about 10 years of ordering contacts through my eye doctor in the mall, I started leaving the office with a photocopy of my prescription instead.
I would go home and promptly plug my prescription into whatever optical supply source came up on Google that day to order my lenses. All I really cared about was how much they cost and how fast they would ship.
And all of this time I figured that the many mail-order prescription optical sites, including 1-800 Contacts, were pretty much the same. As it turns out, I was wrong.
I took a second look at the services that 1-800 Contacts provides, what other customers say, and what you should know if you’re considering becoming a customer, too.
In terms of the telehealth boom we’re seeing now, 1-800 Contacts was way ahead of the curve. The company was founded in 1995, which makes them the oldest prescription-by-mail optical company that’s still operating.
Before ordering things online was a way of life, 1-800 Contacts allowed you to place a phone call with the supplier and create an order, which was then delivered directly to your home.
The number you called to place the order? 1-800-266-8228, which is still the company’s customer service phone number today. On the phone keypad, that spells out 1-800-CONTACT, hence their name.
Pros of buying from 1-800 Contacts
- Like other direct-to-consumer companies, 1-800 Contacts may be less expensive than buying your contacts through an eye doctor or brick-and-mortar eyewear retailer.
- The company offers a generous return policy that includes defective or torn lenses and lenses you don’t need because of changes in your prescription.
- They have 20 years of experience providing customer service, which is a long time compared with some competitors.
- Customers love that a live person takes their phone call and handles their orders if they need help.
Cons of ordering from 1-800 Contacts
- Online retailers like 1-800 Contacts don’t provide services the way an eye doctor does. If you want help figuring out how to put your contacts in and care for them, there are videos online. If you’re having issues with comfort, reach out to an eye doctor!
- As with any items from any retailer, back orders can happen sometimes. Once you’ve put in your order, if that ends up being the case, you’ll just have to wait.
- Lenses you return because your prescription changed will earn you store credit, not your money back.
1-800 Contacts sells:
- Disposable contacts that are meant to be replaced every day, every 2 weeks, and every month are available.
- They sell brands by four major manufacturers, including Bausch + Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, CooperVision, and Alcon.
- They also sell color-tinted contacts.
You can also buy some types of contact lens solution through the site.
1-800 Contacts doesn’t sell glasses on their main site. However, the company does own Liingo Eyewear, which primarily sells glasses.
The cost will depend on what type of contacts you need, as well as whether or not you have vision insurance.
I wear contacts almost every day, but I do stretch out my orders (and give my eyes a break) by sticking with my glasses at least once a week. Ordering 2 boxes of 90-day disposable daily contacts will typically last me about 3 months.
I did some Googling and got a hold of a $10 coupon, so my 2-box order came out to $96. That’s just about standard for what I would pay from other contact lens suppliers. In fact, it’s somewhat cheaper than what I’ve paid before for 90 days of contacts.
Paying over $100 for contacts 4 times a year isn’t my favorite thing, but when you do the math, $1.06 per day for prescription contact lenses that don’t dry my eyes out seems like a bargain.
Notes on free shipping
1-800 Contacts offers ground shipping (which takes 5 to 7 days) for free. Note that this is pretty standard for companies that ship contacts. No matter which supplier I’ve used, a two-box order tends to cost enough to qualify for free shipping. I don’t think I have paid to ship my contacts, ever.
If you want your contacts to come earlier, you can pay for one of their faster shipping options. You’ll get a delivery estimate as soon as you place your order, but like in my experience, the contacts may even come a day or two sooner than expected.
What if I need new contacts right now?
If you really need a set of contacts ASAP, you can contact your optician’s office and ask for a sample pack of your prescription. Most of the time, they’ll give it to you for free. You can also pay 1-800 Contacts $15 extra for overnight shipping.
1-800 Contacts isn’t an optometrist or ophthalmologist service, but the products they sell require a prescription, by law, in the United States.
You can get a copy of your prescription from your eye doctor and send it to 1-800 Contacts. If you don’t have an official copy of that information, you can simply share your doctor’s contact information with 1-800 Contacts and they’ll take care of it for you.
If you don’t have a current prescription and need to renew it, you can try the 1-800 Contacts online eye exam. This service costs $20. Experts say this type of exam isn’t a replacement for an in-office exam.
As a new customer in early 2020, Healthline senior editor Megan Severs found their services helpful.
She noted, “The contacts arrive really quickly and they send follow-ups when it’s time for a new pair. They also offer to work with my eye doctor to get my updated prescription information, and, given COVID, gave me the option of doing a virtual exam. The virtual exam was really easy and meant that I was able to get new contacts without needing to wait for my eye doctor to reopen. I really appreciated that they found a solution for this.”
The first time you place an order with 1-800 Contacts, you’ll need:
- a copy of your prescription or your doctor’s contact information
- your payment information (credit card or PayPal)
- a copy of your insurance card, if you have vision insurance
For subsequent orders, 1-800 Contacts will save your prescription information in your account.
You can place your order online or you can still call the number 1-800-CONTACT.
The ordering process itself is pretty simple. You’ll select the contact lens brand that you typically use, and enter the prescription numbers listed as your OS (left eye) and DS (right eye). You may also need to note in your order if you have astigmatism.
Then, you’ll enter in your doctor’s information and place your order. Once you’ve ordered, 1-800 Contacts will confirm your prescription and process your order for shipment. If you have a copy of your prescription, you can simply submit a photo of it along with your order using the website’s automated system.
If you have vision insurance, you’ll need to enter in that information, too. 1-800 Contacts accepts most major forms of vision insurance.
Severs said, “Ordering is straightforward. Assuming your prescription is still valid, you either need to have a copy of your prescription or give them your eye doctor’s info so that they can retrieve it, but they will work with your doctor to get it if you don’t have a physical copy of it.”
1-800 Contacts has a generous return policy.
- You can return any unopened contacts to 1-800 Contacts for a full refund.
- Sometimes, even high quality contacts break apart while you’re putting them in your eye. 1-800 Contacts offers torn lens replacement for when this happens.
- If your prescription changes before you use all the contacts in your order, you can return the unopened contacts and get your money back on those lenses.
To initiate a return, you can use 1-800 Contacts live chat app or call their customer service hotline. A live representative will walk you through the return process.
On Trustpilot, 1-800 Contacts has a little more than 100 reviews with a 3-star average. Ratings are split pretty evenly between poor and great.
1-800 Contacts is an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). They have an A+ rating from the BBB based on their commitment to customer service. There are about 30 customer complaints on the BBB site, all of which 1-800 Contacts has responded to.
In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a complaint against the company alleging anti-competitive practices that reduced the ability of competitors to bid on or win advertising space online for like products and services.
According to the BBB, in 2018 the FTC ordered 1-800 Contacts to stop unfair practices outlined in the complaint.
If you want to get contacts delivered to your house, other companies provide this service:
Traditional retailers that offer contact lenses include:
And, of course, you can order through your eye doctor when you get your prescription. These contacts can typically be delivered to you via mail, too.
1-800 Contacts is one of several direct-to-consumer retailers that mails contacts right to your house. Since most of these online retailers offer basically the same products, companies can only stand out by offering the best prices and best-in-class customer service.
Overall, 1-800 Contacts offers responsive customer service and convenience and has been doing so for more than 20 years.
But if you’re new to wearing contacts, you might consider ordering through your doctor the first few times. You can also speak to them about any contacts you use just to make sure everything is going smoothly.
In general, ordering from 1-800 Contacts may be worth the price if you’re a seasoned contact lens wearer.
Editor’s note on testing
We’re here to make researching products easier for you.
In some cases, that means having our writers and editors test products to see how they perform in real life. In others, we rely on crowdsourcing reviewer feedback from retail and consumer sites.
For this review, our writer relied on her years of experience as a contacts wearer and shopper, including her experience as a 1-800 Contacts customer. She also analyzed online customer feedback for the company’s services.
Kathryn Watson is a freelance writer covering everything from sleep hygiene to moral philosophy. Her recent bylines include Healthline, Christianity Today, LitHub, and Curbed. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children, and her website is kathrynswatson.com.