How Much Do Contact Lenses & Fittings Cost?

3 sources cited
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How Much Are Contacts?

Contact lenses cost $185 to $335 per year. This is just the average price of common prescription contacts.

Additional expenses can increase to $424 to $1,054 a year.

Total costs can vary and depend on what type of vision correction you need.

Factors that affect the price of contact lenses include:

  • Eye examination
  • Type of contact lenses
  • Lens fitting procedure (if any)
  • Where you buy lenses
  • Maintenance costs
  • Health insurance
contact lenses

For example, you can buy daily disposable contact lenses for $45 a box. It seems cheap, but it only lasts a month. So you have to spend $540 for a year's supply.

Orthokeratology lenses will initially cost you $1,000 to $4,000. Ongoing treatment costs more.

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: 1800 Contacts

Types of Contact Lenses and Cost

Contact lenses correct vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

Eye doctors prescribe different types of lenses based on a person's condition. The price depends on the contact lens manufacturers, packaging, and how often you need to change.

1. Daily disposable contacts (dailies)

  • Average price: $17 to $45 per box (30-pack); $50 to $122 per box (90-pack)
  • Annual cost: $204 to $540 per year (30-pack); $200 to $488 per year (90-pack)

Daily disposable lenses are a type of soft contacts. They are very comfortable but are not as durable as other lenses.

After wearing these single-use contacts, you have to dispose of them on the same day. This means that a 30-pack lasts for 1 month and a 90-pack lasts for 3 months.

Since you start with a fresh pair every day, there is no need to maintain them. You also don't need a regular eye exam. To save money, we recommend buying 90-pack boxes.

2. Weekly contact lenses

  • Average price: $25 to $40 per box of 6 lenses
  • Annual cost: $200 to $320 per year (changed weekly); $100 to $160 per year (changed bi-weekly)

Weekly contacts are designed for longer use. You can wear them for 1 to 2 weeks but only during the day.

These soft contacts are thicker and more durable. But they also make you prone to eye irritation and infections.

You can avoid these problems by cleaning and storing your contacts and visiting an eye doctor. With maintenance, weekly contact lenses cost more or just as much as daily contacts.

3. Monthly contact lenses

  • Average price: $18 to $39 per box of 6 lenses
  • Annual cost: $36 to $78 per year (changed monthly); $18 to $39 per year (changed every 2 months)

You can wear a pair of monthly lenses for 1 to 3 months before replacing them. They are the most affordable disposable lenses, especially if you maintain them well enough.

Even if you undergo a regular eye exam, they will save you more money than all other types of soft contact lenses.

4. Yearly contact lenses

  • Average price: $50 to $80 per pair
  • Annual cost: $50 to $80 per year (changed yearly)

Yearly or annual disposable lenses are the toughest soft contacts. You can safely wear them each day for up to a year.

Of course, you need to clean them with a contact lens solution and soak them every night. Regular eye exams are also advised.

5. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contacts

  • Average price: $35 to $95 per lens
  • Annual cost: $70 to $190 per pair (changed yearly)

RGP contact lenses are more durable than soft contacts. They can also correct more vision problems. Prices largely depend on the brand, lens type, and what they treat.

Specialty lenses that treat astigmatism or are used in corneal refractive therapy cost more than contacts that treat myopia. Overall, they seem cheaper than weekly and daily contacts.

However, these are custom-made contact lenses. They require a contact lens prescription, imaging tests, and fittings — which can add to the total cost.

If you need RGP lenses for both eyes, or if you plan to buy tinted variants, expect to spend more.

6. Extended wear contacts

  • Average price: $45 to $65 per box of 6 lenses
  • Annual cost: $360 to $520 per year (changed weekly); $90 to $130 per year (changed monthly)

Extended wear contacts are approved for overnight use. Most are soft contacts. However, a few rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses are approved for extended wear.1

Overnight contacts can be worn for a week or 30 days, depending on lens type. Generally, you can wear soft contact lenses for shorter periods and RGP lenses for longer.

If you wear them consecutively, you don't need to clean them in between uses. It can save you money on contact lens solutions.

However, they are more expensive than daily wear lenses, especially if they are tinted.

7. Toric lenses

  • Average price: $45 to $85 per box of 6 lenses (soft contacts); $95 per lens (RGP contacts)
  • Annual cost: $360 to $680 per year (soft, changed weekly); $180 to $340 per year (soft, changed bi-weekly); $190 per year (RGP, changed yearly)

Toric contacts are non-spherical lenses that treat astigmatism. They can be soft contact lenses or RGP lenses.

You can wear contact lenses that are toric and soft for 1 to 2 weeks, and up to a year if they are RGP.

Toric lenses are typically more expensive than soft contacts that treat common refractive disorders like myopia and hyperopia.

8. Multifocal lenses

  • Average price: $35 to $50 per box (30-pack); $90 to $120 per box (90-pack); $70 to $90 per box of 6 lenses
  • Annual cost: $420 to $600 per year (30-pack, changed daily); $360 to $480 per year (90-pack, changed daily); $140 to $180 (6-pack, changed monthly)

Bifocal and trifocal lenses provide clear vision at all distances. They are used to correct presbyopia in older people.

Multifocal lenses are available as rigid gas permeable contacts, extended-wear contacts, and disposable contacts that you can change daily or every month.

9. Orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses

  • Initial cost: $1,000 to $4,000
  • Additional annual costs: $300 to $500

Orthokeratology is a refractive therapy. It corrects vision problems by slowly reshaping the cornea.

Initial costs tend to be expensive since you have to get an eye exam and a corneal topography. A lens manufacturer will also make RGP contacts that fit your eyes.

Ortho-k contacts are usually worn during sleep. You have to wear them until your cornea is reshaped. Afterward, you can switch to retainer contacts.

Maintenance costs tend to be pricey as well. You have to visit your doctor for your replacement schedule.2

10. Decorative (Plano) contact lenses

  • Average price: $100 to $400 per pair

Decorative contacts are cosmetic lenses approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.3

Cosmetic contacts are also known as Halloween, theatre, and fashion lenses. Unlike other lenses, they do not correct eyesight.

Contact lens prices vary. Colored contacts that are disposable cost more than soft lenses. But they are also cheaper than extended wear contacts.

Additional Cost of Wearing Contacts

Besides paying for the lenses, there are other costs to consider:

How much is a contact lens exam?

  • Average price range: $40 to $240

Before you can wear contacts, you have to get a prescription. The cost depends on whether you are getting a basic or comprehensive eye exam.

Factors such as where you get the exam also influence their prices. Some doctors charge an additional fee for procedures.

Retail outlets and discount stores

These places exclusively offer prescription glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists that work in discount chains usually charge $45 to $150 for an eye exam.

You can get a discount if you buy contacts or eyeglasses with your prescription. America's Best, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Stanton Optical, and Visionworks are some popular chains.

Vision centers

These are eye clinics located inside or nearby big-box retail stores. Some examples include JCPenney Optical, Target Optical, and Walmart Vision Center.

An eye exam at a vision center typically costs $80.

Private clinics

Optometrists with their own clinics can charge anywhere from $40 to $240, depending on your location.

If you live in the Midwestern or Southern U.S. you can get a comprehensive eye exam for $90. But if you are located in the Northern and Western U.S., an eye exam usually costs $110.

An examination may cost you up to $240 in some Northwest states and high-rise cities like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Dilation and imaging tests costs

During an eye exam, a doctor may perform additional procedures. Most optometrists already include dilation fees with your eye examination. Retinal imaging is rarely included, however.

Doctors may prescribe either but never both at the same time. They can cost you $24 to $33 each when charged separately.

If you have vision insurance, it may cover your contact lens exam cost at an eye doctor. If you don’t have vision insurance, or if your plan does not cover eye exams, retailers such as America’s Best and Lenscrafters offer low-cost eye exams.

How much is a contact lens fitting?

  • Average price range: $25 to $250

The cost of contact lens fittings will depend on the type of lens.

Disposable soft contact lenses

Optometrists usually charge less than $100 when fitting soft disposable lenses. This is for people who have never worn contact lenses before. Otherwise, you can apply them yourself.

After the initial fitting, you can wear and remove them yourself. (Your doctor will teach you how).

Extended wear soft contacts

Eye doctors can charge up to $140 when fitting soft contacts for continuous and overnight use.

Again, you don't have to get a fitting every time you change lenses. But it's ideal to have a professional help you the first time.

Specialty contacts

Optometrists charge $150 for toric lens fittings, regardless of whether they are soft lenses or RGP contacts.

Rigid gas permeable lenses, multifocal lenses, and therapeutic contact lenses (TCLs) may cost up to $210 to $250 for a fitting.

How much does a contact lens solution cost?

  • Average price range: $5 to $20 per bottle
  • Annual cost: $150 to $200 per year

Contact lens solutions come in 2 to 24 oz. bottles. They can be sold individually or in packs of 2 to 6 bottles. You can save money by buying them in bulk.

Does Vision Insurance Cover Contacts?

Yes. But it depends on your insurance provider and your plan. Vision insurance and vision benefits may cover these costs:

  • Preventive eye care. Annual eye examinations.
  • Prescription eyewear. Eyeglasses and contacts.

You can purchase these plans directly from an insurance provider. But if you qualify, you can also get them through an employer or government programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

Your insurance will cover most but not all of your expenses. The amount covered will depend on the plan you choose.

Some providers give additional benefits if you purchase contact lenses together or as an alternative to eyeglasses.

Comprehensive vision plans also offer discounts for elective vision correction such as LASIK and PRK.

Do Contact Lenses Cost More Than Glasses?

Most contact lenses are cheaper than the average cost of eyeglasses. But if you consider long-term costs, they are more expensive to maintain.

Unlike contacts, you don't have to replace your glasses unless damaged. If your vision changes, you can keep your frames and only replace the lenses.

Contacts vs. LASIK: Which One is For You?

LASIK surgery and contact lenses correct vision problems caused by refractive errors. These include myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

The main difference is that LASIK offers a cost-effective and long-term solution. It uses laser to reshape your cornea and improve your eyesight permanently.

With LASIK, you only have to pay for follow-up eye exams.

Contact lenses have high-maintenance costs and only offer a temporary solution. You have to continue wearing and replacing lenses for the rest of your life.

Each has its own risks. But an ophthalmologist can make sure that whichever you choose, your treatment will be safe.

Talk to your eye doctor and find out if you qualify for LASIK.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

Also Great
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GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.

Best on a Budget

EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.

3 Cited Research Articles
  1. "Types of Contact Lenses." American Optometric Association.
  2. "What Is Orthokeratology?" American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  3. "Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween and More." U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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