How Much Do Contact Lenses & Fittings Cost?

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Types of Contact Lenses

Contacts are an alternative to eyeglasses. They can help correct your vision if you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism.

stack of disposal contact lense isolated on white

There are several types of contact lenses to choose from that cater to different vision problems and come at various price points. There are two main kinds of contact lenses, both of which require a valid contact lens prescription to obtain:

  1. Soft Contact Lenses — Soft contact lenses are soft and flexible (plastic or silicone-hydrogels) and allow oxygen to pass through to the eye’s cornea. These contacts are generally the most comfortable and are easy to adjust to because of their softness.
  2. Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses — RGP contact lenses are more durable than soft contact lenses. Generally, they offer contact wearers crisper vision, but they don’t tend to be quite as comfortable. They may take a while to get used to wearing, but they may be worth it since they ultimately last longer.

There are also specialized contact lenses available, including the following:

  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) — Ortho-K isn’t exactly a type of contact lens but, rather, a contact lens fitting procedure. The procedure takes specially designed RGP lenses and physically changes the cornea’s curvature to improve its focusing ability temporarily. Most of the time, these lenses are extended-use — prescribed to be worn for at least eight hours each night and removed in the morning. Then, throughout the day, some people can last without their glasses or contacts. However, some may find that their vision wears off by the day’s end. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any eye care professional prescribing Ortho-K to be trained and certified.
  • Decorative (Plano) Contact Lenses — These contact lenses are typically colored, cosmetic contacts used for fashion or dress-up. They do not necessarily correct your vision but, instead, change the look and color of your eyes. While they can be fun, they could also do some damage. For example, these decorative lenses could cut, scrape, irritate, and/or dry out your eyes. They can also affect your vision and/or lead to infections. That’s why the FDA recommends that, just like corrective contact lenses, you obtain a prescription from an eye doctor before wearing them. The FDA warns against buying decorative contact lenses from street vendors and beauty or Halloween supply stores.

There are also two subcategories of contacts:

  • Extended-Wear Contact Lenses — You can use extended-wear contact lenses overnight or for continuous nights, sometimes even up to 30 days. This length of wear depends on the type and your eye care professional’s evaluation of your eyes’ tolerance for overnight wear. Extended-wear contacts are typically soft, but there are some RGP lenses that are made for extended-wear.
  • Disposable Contact Lenses — Disposable contact lenses are generally one-time-use lenses that you wear for a day and discard. Most soft contacts are disposable lenses, and most people who are prescribed soft contacts are also given a replacement schedule that’s typically daily.
  • Biweekly and Monthly Soft Contact Lenses

How Much Do Contact Lenses Cost?

Contact lenses come at various price points. Typically, daily disposable contacts cost more over time than extended-wear contacts because you have to keep purchasing them. Daily contacts range from about $20 to $50 per box.

colored contact lenses vision center

Extended-wear contacts may cost lens wearers $10 to $20 more upfront, but they can save money over time because they last longer. Therefore, the annual cost of extended-wear contacts is likely cheaper than single-use contacts.

Additional Costs (Exams, Fitting & Solution)

The cost of contact lenses goes beyond the actual lenses themselves. You first have to visit an optometrist to obtain a prescription for contacts.

Contact Lens Exam Cost

The cost of a contact lens exam depends on a few factors, such as where you go to get the exam (many eyewear retailers offer exams, or you can visit an eye doctor). 

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 exams. For example, a contact lens exam at America’s Best costs just $89. At Lenscrafters, it costs $60.

Contact Lens Fitting Cost

The cost to fit contact lenses is sometimes included in your eye exam. However, the contact lens fitting fee is almost always an additional cost (sometimes charged separately from the eyeglass exam). 


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You may be charged a fitting fee every year because you are generally supposed to have your eyes examined annually to ensure that your prescription is still appropriate. Your eyes can change over time, so exams and fittings can make sure that you are still wearing the right contacts. 

Contact Lens Solution

Contact lens solution is another expense. If your contacts are reusable, you will have to clean your contacts with a solution to avoid eye infections. This can cost you about $5 to $20 per bottle, depending on the brand you choose. 

Does Insurance Cover Contact Lenses?

Most vision insurance will cover contact lenses. You may have to pay a small copay for the exam, but many plans do contribute to or cover the cost of the lenses themselves.

Are Contact Lenses Cheaper Than Glasses? 

Contact lenses are not necessarily cheaper than glasses. In fact, daily contact lenses may even end up costing more than glasses in the long run.

Contacts vs. LASIK: Which One is For You?

Like contacts, LASIK laser surgery is an option to correct your vision. Unlike contacts, LASIK is a permanent solution. Both contacts and LASIK are considered safe options, but which one is right for you depends on your vision, budget, and lifestyle.

Talk to your eye doctor to learn more about LASIK and discuss whether contacts, LASIK, or another solution is right for you.

Vision Center Recommends 1800Contacts

1800Contacts has a huge selection of contact lenses and award-winning 24/7 customer service.

Resources
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“$89 Contact Lens Exam.” America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, www.americasbest.com/save-money/contact-lens-exam

“Casey Eye Institute.” OHSU, www.ohsu.edu/casey-eye-institute/lasik-vs-contact-lenses

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween and More.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/contact-lenses/decorative-contact-lenses-halloween-and-more

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Types of Contact Lenses.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/contact-lenses/types-contact-lenses

“Find a Store.” LensCrafters, www.lenscrafters.com/lc-us/eye-exam

“How Much Do Contacts Cost.” ACUVUE® Contact Lenses, www.acuvue.com/why-contact-lenses/cost-of-contact-lenses

“Types of Contact Lenses.” AOA.org, www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/vision-and-vision-correction/types-of-contact-lenses?sso=y.

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