|With Insurance: Copays of $25-$120+ a year ||Non-Disposables, Without Insurance: $150-$375 a year ||Disposables, Without Insurance: $170-$400 a year|
A welcome alternative to eyeglasses for many people with vision problems, contact lenses are a corrective lens placed directly on the cornea of the eye to enhance vision. Talk to an eye doctor before making a purchase, because some vision problems cannot be corrected with contact lenses.
What should be included:
- Prices for contact lenses vary tremendously depending upon the type of lens. Disposable lenses, which are worn once and then thrown away, cost between $70 and $100 for a 90-day supply. For example, 1-Day Acuvue lenses cost $89 for a 90-day supply via an online retailer.
- Extended-wear contact lenses are also disposable, but can be worn for up to three months before needing to be replaced. For a year's supply of lenses, the cost can range from $170 to more than $300. For example, Acuvue Advance lenses need to be replaced every two weeks and cost about $200 annually, while Preference Toric lenses are replaced quarterly and cost about $300 a year.
- Some contact lenses can be worn for up to one year, ranging in price from about $150 to $375. More expensive lenses, such as Optima Toric Contact Lenses by Bausch and Lomb, are designed to treat specialized eye conditions, like astigmatism.
- Most vision insurance plans cover buying contact lenses. Copays and coinsurance rates vary by plan and can range from $25 per year to $10 per box of lenses.
- Experts recommend that patients always have a contact lens fitting at a reputable clinic. Cost for these fittings, which are often not covered by insurance, can range from $25 to more than $210. See How Much Do Contact Lens Fittings Cost.
- Contact lens purchases include the lenses and packaging material for the lenses. In some cases, this packaging material will be a vial with saline solution or another preservative. For disposable lenses, the lenses are typically packaged separately in plastic. In addition, most manufacturers include information about the lenses.
- At some eye care clinics, an eye exam will be included if the customer purchases lenses through the clinic.
- Patients must have an annual eye exam and a valid prescription to purchase contact lenses through a U.S. retailer. Most experts recommend that patients purchase lenses through a U.S. retailer because overseas merchants are not bound by Food and Drug Administration regulations. Prescriptions for contact lenses are valid for 12 months. The average national cost for an eye exam is $114, but the cost will vary depending upon the retailer. Many insurance companies completely cover the cost of an annual eye exam. In some cases a $10 to $30 copay may apply. See How Much Does An Eye Exam Cost
- If a patient has problems with the contact lenses, another visit to an eye care professional may be necessary. The average clinic charges about $40 for follow-up visits. For example, Lakewood Family Eye Care charges $45 for a follow-up contact lens visit. However, some clinics, such as Cheyenne Eye Clinic in Wyoming, include three months worth of follow-up visits in the sitting fee.
Shopping for contacts:
- Discounted and free eye exams are available through a variety of programs and foundations. The National Eye Institute maintains a list of many of these programs.
- Patients with a personal or family history of eye conditions should consider seeing an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist for their eye exam. Find a list of ophthalmologists through theAmerican Academy of Ophthalmology or search for an optometrist through the Optometrist Network.
- Become familiar with the various types of contact lenses available. All About Vision.com offers a primer on contact lens basics.
- Those who have insurance should check their coverage options. Some companies only cover contact lenses provided through an eye clinic, such as an ophthalmologist's office or a specialty provider like LensCrafters.
- For face-to-face interaction and an establishment to visit if there are questions, an eye care clinic or boutique might be best. Discount retailers, like LensCrafters and Pearle Vision , offer consumers face-to-face interaction and specialized care, and can be cheaper than a doctor's office. These merchants may not, however, be able to handle more serious medical needs.
- Buying online can be cheapest, but patients should investigate the company first. Check if the company only markets FDA-approved lenses and is able to process most major insurance carriers. AllAboutVision.com recommends that patients check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau .
| Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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