We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
If you’ve been browsing the web trying to figure out the cost of new contact lenses, odds are you’ve been left with more questions than you started with.
Many factors like your prescription, brands, types, and insurance all affect how much contacts cost, so it’s no surprise if you’re coming up short if searching for a definite number.
This article helps you find out what you’re likely to pay when buying different types and brands of contact lenses, and provides tips on how to get the best deal when shopping for lenses.
When shopping for contacts, seemingly similar products often come with widely different price tags.
On the other hand, insurance coverage, manufacturer’s rebates, retailer coupons, bulk-buying options, and opting for yearly contacts can reduce the price.
Your health or optical insurance affects how much you pay out-of-pocket for contact lenses. The best way to find out how you’re covered is to contact your insurance provider.
You may be entitled to an optical benefit through your regular health insurance provider, including an annual eye exam and credit toward a pair of glasses.
You may also receive a voucher to cover part of the cost of contact lenses. Rarely, your regular health insurance may cover the entire annual cost of certain contact lens options.
In addition to your health insurance, you may have supplementary vision insurance through a secondary insurance provider.
Vision insurance may entitle you to an optical exam, a credit toward a pair of glasses, or partial payment for contact lenses.
Keep in mind that vision care services may not count toward your annual health insurance deductible. Plus, they most likely won’t cover the entire out-of-pocket cost of contacts.
HSA or FSA
Conveniently, a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) may be used to purchase contact lenses.
Depending on how much your employer offers for your HSA or FSA each year, you may be able to cover the full annual cost of your contacts.
An eye exam for contact lenses is called a fitting. During one, your eye doctor measures the strength of your vision, determines the shape of your eye, and identifies which contact lens size you need.
This means that your contact lens prescription typically includes:
- your magnification (PWR or SPHERE)
- the base curve of the lens you need (BC)
- the width of the contact lens you need (DIA)
- a suitable brand or type of contacts that your doctor recommends
The brand or type recommendation is based on what your doctor learns about your eyes and their professional opinion about which lenses will fit you best.
Don’t be afraid to request a less expensive brand recommendation during your fitting.
Daily disposable contact lenses (dailies)
If daily maintenance and proper storage at night sound like too much hassle, daily disposable lenses may be a great fit for you. These lenses are used for just 1 day, after which they’re discarded.
Thanks to new products on the market, you can even find dailies that work with astigmatism.
Dailies typically come in a box of 90. If you need a different prescription for each eye, you’ll have to buy separate boxes of 90 to get through 3 months of daily wear.
To get the most bang for your buck, consider purchasing half a year’s supply — or 4 boxes with 90 lenses each — at once to take advantage of bulk discounts.
Make sure to not use dailies for more than a day. If you need to stretch a box, you can instead take some days off from wearing your contacts and switch to your glasses.
1- to 2-week disposable lenses
These lenses are durable enough to last for 10 to 14 days of wear.
So, it’s not a big problem if you lose a lens or if it breaks. However, you still need to soak them overnight in a saline solution.
Typically, weekly or biweekly contacts come in a pack of six. If your eyes have two different prescriptions, you’ll need to get a minimum of two boxes at a time for a 3-month supply.
Theoretically, contacts that last for 2 weeks would cost half as much as ones that last for 1 week. But don’t try to extend the life of your lenses beyond the package instructions to save money. Instead, try to switch to your glasses for a few days per week.
Monthly disposable contact lenses
Depending on the brand, monthly contacts are durable enough to last 1 to 3 months — provided that you commit to careful daily cleaning and proper storage when you’re not wearing them.
However, this also means that it can be a bigger issue if your contacts break. Thus, it’s worth checking if your preferred retailer offers free replacements in case of tears.
With this option, it’s important to keep track of when you started using each lens to avoid accidentally using it beyond the recommended replacement date.
Also, keep in mind that some people feel that monthly contacts make them more vulnerable to dry eyes. Be ready to pop on your glasses if your eyes start to feel dry or irritated.
Conventional yearly soft lenses
These contacts are meant to last for a full year.
Thus, they require a lot of care and commitment. If you’ve frequently forgotten or neglected to maintain your contacts in the past, this may not be the best option for you.
Only a few brands and suppliers offer this type of contact lenses, so your choices are limited.
Keep in mind that while the per-box cost for yearly contact lenses might be higher than that of other types, you only need one box to lasts an entire year. That being said, it’s a good idea to opt for a box with a spare pair, just in case.
Rigid gas/permeable lenses
These lenses are custom-made for your eyes.
Even though they’re also known as hard contacts, they allow more oxygen to access your eyes than soft disposables.
Thanks to their studier build, they don’t tear easily and may last you a full year, if not longer. However, they may take some getting used to.
Because they have to be custom-made for you, you can’t buy them in bulk. You should also keep in mind that if they end up breaking, the replacement cost can be significant.
When purchasing contact lenses, factors like insurance and type affect the cost.
For example, lenses that last you months to a year may end up cheaper in the long run, but they also require a larger commitment to daily cleaning and proper storage. On the other hand, dailies that cost a bit more may be a better fit if you’re after convenience and ease of use.
What’s more, your insurance can affect the out-of-pocket expense.
Ultimately, the best way to determine the cost of contact lenses that suit your eyes and lifestyle is to talk with your eye doctor.
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.