Best Places to Buy Contact Lenses in 2018

Anna Burleson ·
Entertainment Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent eight hours evaluating websites where you can order contact lenses. This meant looking thoroughly at all the available brands and extras listed on each site. All 10 of the websites we looked at offer the common types of contacts, including toric, colored, bifocal and multifocal as well as several disposable kinds. To compare the sites, we focused on the variety of available brands along with other items like solution, eye drops and even glasses. In our analysis, AC Lens is the best overall for its price matching, affordable lenses and wide range of brands.     

Best Overall
AC Lens
AC Lens has a ton of brands and types of contacts along with several kinds of glasses, contact solution, eye drops and a primo price matching program.
View on AC Lens
Best Value
Coastal
Coastal is our best value pick because it has a wide selection of glasses, free shipping on all orders and a price match program.
View on Coastal
Best Selection
Discount Contact Lenses
Discount Contact Lenses has affordable prices for most contacts and one of the best price matching programs of any website we evaluated.
View on Discount Contact Lenses
Product
Price
Overall Rating
Price
Selection
Customer Service
Accessories
Price Comparison
Price Match Guarantee
Free Shipping Minimum
Number of Brands
RGP (Hard) Lenses
Halloween Lenses
Standard Shipping Time (Business Days)
Return Policy
Glasses/Readers
Solution
Drops
Check Price
9.1 10 10 6.3 10
A+
Match + 5%
$99
44
5 to 7
1 Year
Check Price
8.8 9.3 10 6.3 10
A-
Match + 5%
$99
44
5 to 7
1 Year
Check Price
6.2 7.3 3 6.3 10
B-
Match
$0
26
-
-
5 to 7
1 Year
Check Price
5.8 6 7 5 4.3
C-
Match
$0
33
-
5 to 7
30 Days
-
-
Check Price
5.8 3.5 8 7.5 2.8
F
Match + 2% off
$75
40
-
5 to 7
Unlimited
-
-
Check Price
5.7 3.3 2.5 10 10
D-
-
$0
21
-
-
1 to 3
Unlimited
Check Price
4.9 5.3 3.8 7.3 2.8
C+
Match
$49
18
-
Up to 5
1 Year
-
-
Check Price
4.7 4 2.8 6.3 7.3
B+
-
N/A
24
-
-
3 to 6
30 Days
-
Check Price
3.6 4 2.8 6.3 0
D+
-
$0
24
-
-
5 to 7
1 Year
-
Best Overall
This website has a large selection of contacts, so whether you need a very specific type of lens or want something in a bright color just for fun, odds are you’ll find it.
You can pick from 44 different brands of contact lenses, including less common ones like RGP or even Halloween-themed lenses. Whether it's ProClear, FreshLook or a less common Fluoroperm RGP lens, this website should have what you need. AC Lens also had the most affordable contacts in our price comparison, earning an A+. For example, one box of Dailies we looked at across all websites cost an average of $27 on other websites while AC Lens sold it for $18.99. Like the other websites we looked at, though, AC Lens offers a discount on most purchases if you sign up for an automatic refill subscription or purchase more than one box at a time. It also offers price matching if you find your contacts available elsewhere for less; it will even take an extra 5 percent off, which is something only offered by one other company we evaluated. The downside to this site is the required $99 spending minimum to get free standard shipping. It then takes roughly 5 to 7 days to get your contacts depending on how quickly your prescription can be verified. This is a comparable shipping speed across the board at contact lens ordering websites. You then have a whole year to return any unopened or damaged contacts, which is much better than some websites which only give you 30 days. AC Lens’s low-cost contacts, price match program and wide range of contact brands and types are what make it our overall best pick.
Pros
  • This website earned an A+ in our price comparison
  • Forty-four different brands of contacts are available
  • You can buy eyeglasses, sunglasses and various strengths of reading glasses
Cons
  • It can take about a week to get your order
  • You must spend at least $99 to get free shipping
  • Some eye accessories like sunglasses and swimming goggles are expensive
GOAC Lens
Read the full review
Best Value
This website makes it feel like you’re shopping for contacts at an upscale boutique without the inflated prices.
Not only do you have 33 contact lens brands to pick from – the third most of any site we evaluated – but you have your pick of stylish eyeglasses and reading glasses. It even carries RGP contact lenses, which are harder to find online in general. This site has all the common lens types such as colored contacts, several kinds of disposables, lenses for people with astigmatism, multifocal and bifocal contacts. Coastal got a C- in our price comparison, but its large selection and easy-to-use website make it our best value selection. With Coastal, you get free shipping on every order. This can save you around $10 every time you order. It will take roughly a week to get regular, non-custom orders, though you can buy several boxes at a time depending on the lens. Buying in bulk means you’ll get even more of a discount. Coastal also price matches competitors if you find your order for less money elsewhere. Keep in mind, this service doesn’t offer eye drops or contact solution, so you’ll need to buy that elsewhere. The website is well-designed and even has a live chat option in case you need help while you shop. There are articles about contact lens misconceptions and FAQs if you’re new to optical care. One of the links even explains how to read your own prescription, which we know can be a little confusing. These little helping hands paired with the selection and affordability make Coastal the best value pick for online contact lens shopping.
Pros
  • All orders ship for free within the United States
  • It will match any other website’s price
  • There are 33 brands of contacts to pick from
Cons
  • In our price comparison Coastal got a C-
  • You can’t buy solution or eye drops
  • It can take a week to get your order in the mail
GOCoastal
Read the full review
Best Selection
This website is the most expansive one-stop-shop for contacts and other eye care products and accessories.
You have 44 brands of contacts to pick from along with numerous styles of lens: disposables, toric, multifocals and even vial and RGP lenses. There are big name brands like Acuvue and Air Optix alongside some lesser known names like SGP and O-Perm. No matter how unique your vision needs are, Discount Contact Lenses most likely has what you need. You can buy decorative colored lenses or even some that give you cat eyes or lightning on your iris, but those lenses take 7-10 days to ship while most regular soft lenses only take 5-7 days. If you find your contacts cheaper elsewhere online, Discount will match that price with an additional 5 percent off. This is one of the best matching programs of the websites we evaluated. To test prices, we compared the cost of three different boxes of contacts across all the websites we rated. AC Lens earned an A+ while Discount Contact Lenses was the runner-up with a grade of A-. You should note that standard shipping isn’t free unless you spend $99. If you happen to get lenses that don’t work, you have 365 days to return them. That’s a very generous return policy. There are plenty of other eye accessories available on Discount Contact Lenses, including solution, eye drops, frames, reading glasses and even sunglasses. This website’s live try-on feature is very accurate and frankly a lot of fun to play with. Using your computer’s webcam, you take a series of photos turning your head from side to side and within moments you can see what any set of frames looks like on your face from several angles. You never have to worry about not liking your glasses again.
Pros
  • It has a very competitive price match program
  • There are 44 brands of contacts to pick from
  • You can purchase different kinds of glasses, cosmetics, solution and eye drops
Cons
  • You have to spend $99 to get free standard shipping
  • Some Halloween lenses take longer to ship
  • It can take about a week to get your lenses
GODiscount Contact Lenses
Read the full review
Best One Stop Shop
Walmart has a lot to offer besides just contacts.
It’s the best place to get everything you need from eye drops and solution to eyeglasses in every style imaginable. If you want contact lens cases that are functional as well as stylish, there are a multitude of colors and styles to pick from. There are also a ton of drops available if you have specific needs like dryness, allergies or eye redness. If you visit one of the Vision Centers in-store for an exam you can even pick up your household necessities like groceries, clothing, toys and even automotive care products.
Pros
  • Free shipping within the U.S.
  • 26 brands available
  • You can buy glasses and other optical necessities
Cons
  • The price match program doesn't include an additional discount
  • No costume lenses
  • No RGP lenses
GOWalmart
Read the full review
Best Return Policy
Even though 1-800-Contacts didn’t fare well in our overall cost evaluation they have 40 different brands to choose from, the second-most the websites we looked at.
You can also return your unopened or damaged lenses any time and considering some websites limit that to one month or one year, we think it’s a pretty great deal. That way if you go without your contacts for a while and then decide to start wearing them again only to find they’re damaged, you aren’t going to lose any money. The website says if you are dissatisfied for any reason they will make it right.
Pros
  • 10 percent off for students
  • You can return unopened or damaged lenses any time
  • RGP lenses available
Cons
  • $75 minimum purchase to get free shipping
  • Got an F in our price comparison
  • Lacks glasses and eye drops
GO1-800-Contacts
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

Our experts have been reviewing contact lens websites since 2010, when ordering contacts online really became commonplace.

AC Lens Marketing Director Robert Drumm said shoppers are limited to what their doctor prescribes them, so AC Lens focuses on simplifying the process for customers. For example, many contact lens websites have a live chat feature that offers immediate customer service.

“I think it streamlines the entire optical process for the customer and allows them to just forget about it,” Drumm said. “You don’t have to worry about your eyes. We just tell you when it’s time to take care of it.”

Drumm also warned of sketchy websites that aren’t legitimate. He said most of the time it’s pretty apparent when a website isn’t an authorized retailer.

While you can get your contacts from your doctor, online shopping does have its perks.

Laura Schmidt of 1-800-Contacts said in an email that its online shoppers get the same lenses they would receive directly from an eye doctor paired with money-saving opportunities like rebates and promotions.

"With over 15 million contact lenses in stock, 1-800 Contacts is more likely to have a contact lens wearer’s prescription than anyone else," she said.

How We Tested

In testing, we noted all the different types and brands of contact lenses each website sells. Because all the websites we reviewed offer common types of contacts such as disposables, lenses for people with astigmatism, multifocal contacts and even colored lenses, we put a lot of weight on how many brands each website has to offer. This meant we went through and tallied up how many brands were listed on each website. In this process we counted brands that offer several lines of contacts only once. For instance, even though Acuvue has lines named Oaysis, Vita, Define and Moist – among others – we only counted Acuvue once.

We also looked at every website’s price matching guarantee, shipping rates and general ordering information to make sure all prices were accurate upfront. In doing so, we found all the sites offer discounts if you sign up to have your prescription automatically refilled or simply purchase in bulk. We also discovered not all sites sell glasses, solution and drops, but since those are a pretty standard need for people who wear contacts, we favored websites that did.

How Much Do Contacts Cost?

How much you pay for contacts online is going to vary depending on your prescription. Customized RGP lenses, for instance, can cost upwards of $40 per lens while a 30-pack more commonly prescribed lenses are about $1 per lens. What you pay out of pocket depends on your eye insurance plan as well, so you’ll need to have that information handy when placing your first order. Many websites will also note whether you can use an HSA or FSA account to buy certain contacts.

What Key Features Should I Look for When Selecting an Online Contact Store?

Be Prepared
You can shop around at contact lens websites all you want, but to place an order you’ll need a prescription from your eye doctor. Most websites offer several ways to verify your prescription, including uploading an image of the prescription or even getting in touch with your optometrist’s office. This even applies to zanier colored contacts or ones with a Halloween theme to really put your zombie or monster costume over the top. According to 1-800-Contacts, contacts can’t legally be sold without a prescription because the Food and Drug Administration categorizes them as a medical device. If you don’t need vision correction but want to have some fun with your eye color, Walmart Contacts recommends talking to your eye doctor about getting a prescription for 0.00 or plano contacts.

So Many Options
The type of contacts you need depends on your prescription. All of the websites we reviewed had colored contacts, toric contacts, multifocal contacts and disposable lenses for daily, weekly or monthly use. Only some of the sites we looked at had RGP custom contacts. Rigid gas permeable lenses are made of a firm plastic that lets oxygen pass through. According to the Contact Lens Spectrum, only 9 percent of all new contact lens fits and refits in the United States were RGPs in 2012. Ultimately, it's up to your eye doctor to decide what kind of contact you'll benefit from the most. Be sure to find the store that sells your brand for the best price.


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