How Much Do Contacts Cost?
Contact lenses cost about $185 to $1,000 annually for both eyes. If you wear contacts regularly, you should expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $85 per month.
This wide range is partly due to the many types of contact lenses available. Contacts vary in price based on design and the vision problems they treat. For example:
- Contacts designed to treat astigmatism typically cost more than those that don’t
- Daily disposable contacts cost more than biweekly or monthly contacts
- Colored contacts cost more than clear contacts
But lens type isn’t the only thing to consider when estimating how much you’ll pay for contacts. This article breaks down the factors that influence the cost of contact lenses so you can determine how much you’ll pay.
What Factors Affect the Cost of Contact Lenses?
The cost of contacts varies widely. Additionally, prices are always changing as new technologies and products emerge. Factors that affect the price of contact lenses include:
- Eye examination. Wearing contact lenses usually requires a contact lens exam at your eye doctor. Prices vary but generally range from $40 to $150.
- Type of contact lenses. Daily disposables cost more than monthly or biweekly contacts.
- Vision problem being treated. Contacts for astigmatism and presbyopia cost more than those for myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness).
- Where you buy lenses. Retailer coupons, manufacturer rebates, and discounts offered by your optometrist’s office can help save money.
- Maintenance costs. Unless you use dailies, contact lenses need to be cleaned, disinfected, and stored. That means you’ll need to purchase contact lens solution and cases throughout the year.
- Health insurance. If you have vision coverage, your health insurance plan may pay a percentage of the cost of contact lenses.
One of the biggest variables in price difference is how frequently you change your 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 around $540 for a year's supply.
Alternatively, biweekly disposables may cost $30 for a box of 6. One box will last a month and a half if you use them for both eyes. This winds up costing around $240 per year.
Orthokeratology lenses will initially cost you $1,000 to $4,000. Ongoing treatment costs more.
Types of Contact Lenses and Their Costs
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 contact. They are very comfortable but are less durable than other lenses. Daily contacts cost more than other types, but you pay for their convenience.
After wearing these single-use contacts, you must 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 clean and disinfect them. Additionally, it’s no sweat if you lose a lens. To save money, we recommend buying 90-pack boxes. 2. Biweekly contact lenses
- Average price: $25 to $40 per box of 6 lenses
- Annual cost: $100 to $160 per year
Biweekly contacts are designed for longer use. You can wear them for up to two weeks but only during the day. You need to soak them in a case filled with saline solution overnight.
Biweekly contacts typically last 10 to 14 days and come in packs of 6. If you lose a lens, it’s not a major loss.
It’s tempting to save money by extending a pair of lenses for longer than a week or two. However, this is bad for your eyes. Be sure to follow the instructions on the contact lens box.
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 month before replacing them. It’s important to note the date you started wearing each lens to ensure you replace them when needed.
They’re the most affordable disposable lenses but require more cleaning and storage commitment.
Opting for monthly contacts also means you can experience a greater loss if one gets damaged or falls out. Some retailers offer free replacements in these cases, so that’s worth checking into.
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. If you’ve struggled to care for biweekly or monthly lenses in the past, this might not be the best option for you.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 the 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.
Most eye doctors don’t recommend wearing your contact lenses to sleep, even those approved to do so. Sleeping in your contact lenses increases your risk of an eye infection.
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 errors 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)
Multifocal lenses are available as rigid gas-permeable contacts, extended-wear contacts, and disposable contacts that you can change daily or monthly.
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. Colored (Tinted) Contact Lenses
- Average Price: $45 to $90 monthly
- Annual cost: $500 to $1000
Tinted contacts change the color of your eye while correcting your vision. These contacts are available in daily wear, extended wear, and toric lenses.
11. Decorative (Cosmetic) 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 get 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. Some popular chains include America's Best, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Stanton Optical, and Visionworks.
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.
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 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
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 perform either test. 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 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.
Optometrists can 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 get them through an employer or government programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
Your insurance will cover some 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.
Can I Use an FSA or HSA to Pay for Contacts?
Yes. If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), you can use them to help pay for contact lenses.
Read more about using your FSA or HSA for glasses and contacts here.
Do Contact Lenses Cost More Than Glasses?
Most contact lenses are cheaper than the average cost of eyeglasses on a per-lens basis. But if you consider long-term costs, contacts are more expensive.
Eyeglasses are a one-time cost for vision correction that lasts a year or more. 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 a 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 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
Many stores and online retailers sell contact lenses. Some of the best places to purchase contacts include:
Your Optometrist’s Office
You’ll probably have the option to buy contact lenses directly from your eye doctor’s office. This can be a convenient option if they already have your prescription in stock and you just had a contact lens fitting.
However, you may end up paying a higher price than you’d find online. And if the office doesn’t have your lenses in stock, you’ll likely have to return to pick them up.
Online options typically provide the best prices and the widest selection of lenses. Online retailers price products competitively, so you’re guaranteed cheap contact lenses with the added convenience of home delivery.
The best places to buy contacts online include:
Big-box retailers often sell contacts at discounted prices. You can buy contacts in-store or online at many Walmart and Costco locations.
- The cost of contact lenses for both eyes ranges from $185 to $1000 per year.
- Many factors influence the price of contact lenses, including the vision problem they’re designed to treat and how many days each lens can be worn.
- Daily disposables cost more than monthly contacts, but they’re more convenient.
- Monthly or yearly contacts require more attention to proper care when it comes to cleaning and storage.
- Your vision insurance, or lack thereof, also affects the overall cost of contacts.
- You may try several contact lenses before finding the right type for your vision needs and lifestyle.
- Contact lenses are available online, at big-box stores, and through your optometrist’s office.
In this article
Best Places to Buy Contacts
1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
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.