Is It Cheaper to Buy Contact Lenses Online or From the Eye Doctor?

is it cheaper to buy contacts online

Contact lenses are a necessary expense for millions of people across the globe. Of course, you want to make sure that you are getting the best deal. The question is, is it cheaper to buy contacts online or from your local eye doctor?

I’m Dr. Brad Boyle, eye doctor in Waterloo & Independence, Iowa. I’ll weigh in on factors to consider and break down the typical pricing differences between ordering online and from your local optometrist. The answer may surprise you.

Average Contact Lens Pricing

A 1 year supply of contact lenses can range from $200 – $1,000, depending on the type of vision they are correcting, brand, lifespan per pair, and seller.

In general,

  • A 1 year supply of standard soft contact lenses will range from $200 to $800. 2-week lenses will run in the lower end of this range, and 1-day lenses will be on the higher end.
  • A 1 year supply of multifocal or astigmatism contact lenses will range from $400 to $1,000/year.

Additional pricing factors:

  • Insurance coverage
  • Shipping
  • Rebates

All 3 will weigh in on the sticker price, so be sure to look into each of these to calculate your final rate.

So Which is Cheaper – Ordering Online or From the Eye Doctor?

In a world dominated by massive online retailers the likes of Amazon, it is only natural to assume that ordering contacts online is cheaper. Less overhead from running a brick and mortar business = cheaper prices right? Wrong.

The reality is that not only is ordering contacts from your local eye doctor usually cheaper than ordering online, there are a number of additional price benefits to ordering local – including higher rebates, better shipping, and better insurance coverage.

How can this be possible? While online contact lens retailers cut costs by operating remotely, they have considerable marketing budgets to fund. In addition, optometrists are able to receive very competitive wholesale pricing on contact lenses, allowing them to resell them at great rates.

Did you know that you can get the benefits of online ordering and eye doctor pricing?

Our online ordering portal lets anyone order contact lenses online with the best price + fast & convenient shipping.

You don’t need to be a patient of ours, you just need a valid prescription.

Side-By-Side Contact Lens Price Comparison

are contacts cheaper online or from the optometrist

The notion that ordering contact lenses online is no cheaper than ordering from your brick and mortar eye care care facility may be hard to digest. I get it. When my clients compare the pricing of us vs. online, they are generally surprised.

Here is Advanced Family Eye Care’s (AFEC’s) Waterloo, IA contact lens pricing vs. 2 of the largest online contact lens providers:

Acuvue Oasys (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

Acuvue Moist (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

Acuvue Oasys 1-Day (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

Acuvue Moist for Astigmatism (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

Acuvue Moist Multifocal (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism 1-Day (1 Year Supply)

AFEC1-800 ContactsWalmart

*All illustrated pricing as of 10/12/2020 and is subject to change

As you can see, our local eye care facility pricing beats two of the largest online contact lens retailers every time. Odds are, your local eye clinic will offer rates in the same range. So the next time you go to order, make sure to get pricing from your eye clinic – you could save hundreds.

5 Myths of Ordering Contacts Online

Myth #1: Ordering contact lenses online is cheaper

Fact: Ordering contacts through your eye doctor is actually cheaper in many cases.

As mentioned, your local eye doctor will actually tend to offer better rates than online providers. In addition, the higher rebates account for even better deals.

Myth #2: Ordering contact lenses online saves time

Fact: Ordering contact lenses through your eye doctor is just as speedy and pain-free as ordering online.

Contrary to some belief, you do not have to visit the office in person to reorder, as long as your prescription is still valid. Just give your eye care provider a call and they will place your order and they will deliver your contacts right to your door.

Myth #3: Online contact lens retailers have better shipping

Fact: Odds are, your local eye clinic has just as good of shipping options or better.

Advanced Family Eye Care offers free 2-day shipping, and so do many other local eye clinics.

Myth #4: Online contact lens retailers have better customer service

Fact: Most eye clinics offer comparable customer service.

When asking my clients why they order online, a major factor is the level of customer service they receive.

True – many online contact lens retailers have incredible customer service. But what if I told you that most eye care facilities offer the same level of customer service with a more personalized touch? Plus, you receive customer service from trained professionals in the eye care field, even direct doctor advice – not a call center.

Myth #5: Online contact lens retailers have a better selection

Fact: Your local eye doctor will offer the same options of customized lenses and brands as any retailer. Plus, they have licensed professionals to help you choose the right product.

Additional Benefits of Ordering Contacts From the Optometrist

person ordering contact lenses from the eye doctor


The role of your eye clinic is not only to get you top brand contacts at leading rates, but to ensure your overall eye health. They will make sure you are getting the right pair and your eyes’ wellbeing.

Personal Touch

Order your contact lenses from the same friendly face that prescribed you.

Support Local Business

Pat yourself on the back knowing that you are not only getting the best rate with all of the convenience of ordering online, but you are also supporting a local business.


A marketplace led by online transactions and large marketing budgets has fueled the notion that ordering contact lenses online is cheaper. As I have explained, that is simply not the case.

I am not saying to ditch the 1-800 number and call your eye doctor today, but I am saying that the next time you go to order your contact lenses, give your eye doctor a shot – run the numbers yourself, and choose the most economical solution. You will be surprised!

Interested in learning more about contact lens pricing? Contact me!