How cheap is too cheap for contact lenses?
November 16, 2018 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Looking at the various online contact lens shops, prices vary widely. I, of course, would like to pay less. If I'm buying my prescribed brand of corrective lenses, and not some halloween cat eye thing, how worried should I be about counterfeit or other dangerous/unapproved products? Can I order from the cheapest place, and if not, how do I determine which vendors are selling legit lenses?
posted by OrangeVelour to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's definitely possible... but I don't think prescription lenses will be counterfeit if you are using a doctors prescription (always do this!), and you go to a reputable online store. Your eyedoctor will be prescribing you a specific brand and strength. You could talk to them about cheaper options. Every time I've changed lenses, they have ordered me free samples to wear for a week.

From my experience as a lifelong contact wearer, I have had my contacts vary wildly in price among websites for the exact same product. I think now it's like $5/contact. It's illegal to sell contacts without a prescription in the US so make sure they require you to put that in. Any place that doesn't isn't on the level.

https://www.allure.com/story/counterfeit-contact-lenses

I guess I'm curious how cheap we're talking here!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:45 AM on November 16, 2018


To clarify, and I promise not to threadsit: there are vendors I've never heard of, (re: "reputable", who knows) that are selling my prescribed brand for 40% less than sellers I've heard of, like 1800-Contacts, etc.
posted by OrangeVelour at 10:55 AM on November 16, 2018


I have gone with the astonishingly cheap option and then found out they make it back with $30-40 shipping fees. It was still slightly cheaper for me than other vendors, though! And they're the same lenses as always, as far as I can tell. I agree that you should probably at least limit yourself to places that require a prescription.
posted by adiabat at 11:20 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


FWIW the one time I ordered contacts online, they sent me packages with Japanese writing on them that routinely tore after just a few days of wear. While in my eyes, ow. These were two-week disposables.

My optometrist said they were probably the wrong basal curve. I wouldn’t buy online again.
posted by Andrhia at 11:22 AM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've been buying from 1-800-contacts for many years now, since their service is great and they always price match. Based on 1-800-contacts' price match policy, those cheap places nearly always (1) tack on, at the end, ridiculously high "handling" charges (as adiabat says), which bring the effective price up significantly, and/or (2) are actually shipping from outside the US, like Canada. 1-800-contacts will price match the former, but only including the handling charge, and won't price match the latter, because apparently those places don't need to comply with the same rules as US sellers do. (In my experience, though, 100% of the time there's a cheaper legit seller, and you get the price match + 2%.)
posted by odin53 at 11:46 AM on November 16, 2018


I've bought big brand contacts without a prescription in plenty of countries outside the US where contacts are sold over the counter (Taiwan, Serbia, Georgia, Morocco) and never had any problems or noticed anything "off." Plus I paid much less than I would at a US brick and motar opthamologist. There is a big US retail markup you should be able to get around somewhat. I would read website or vendor reviews to see if other consumers had any issues, then pick the cheapest vendor that doesn't have any red-flag ratings
posted by horizons at 11:53 AM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


i wouldn't worry about straight up fake or counterfeit lenses as much as i would worry about expired or otherwise mishandled lenses.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2018


I've bought big brand contacts without a prescription in plenty of countries outside the US where contacts are sold over the counter (Taiwan, Serbia, Georgia, Morocco) and never had any problems or noticed anything "off." Plus I paid much less than I would at a US brick and motar opthamologist.

Same.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:58 PM on November 16, 2018


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