Budgeting

How much do contacts cost?


Contact lenses are a popular alternative to glasses, but how much do contacts cost?

Because there are a variety of contacts available to treat a wide range of problems, some types of contacts can cost twice as much as other types.

When figuring out how much you’ll have to pay, you should consider the type of prescription you have as well as the style you want to wear.

In addition to the cost of the contact lenses, the cost of an exam and potential insurance coverage also can influence your total out-of-pocket expense.


Contact types

Contacts are priced differently because they are designed to treat a variety of vision problems.

If you are nearsighted or farsighted and want to buy a basic box of spherical soft contact lenses, you can expect to pay $22 to $26 per box, with each box holding six lenses.

However, if you have additional vision problems or you want specialized lenses, that cost can rise. The following scenarios all boost the cost of your contact lenses.

Astigmatism

Soft contact lenses (called toric lenses) for astigmatism can cost $50 to $70 per box. This higher price is because that toric lenses are specially designed with different powers in different meridians of the lenses, and they have a feature that allows them to rotate into position on the cornea.

Colored contacts

Some people like to choose colored contacts, which can enhance or change your eye color. While this is a fun way to personalize your look, you’ll have to pay for it. These contact lenses can cost 50 percent to 80 percent more than the standard non-tinted variety.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the condition that causes many people to need bifocals, and it most commonly affects people over age 40. If you need bifocal lenses to correct this problem, you can expect them to cost between $50 and $70 per box.

Disposable lenses

While other types of soft contact lenses are worn for several weeks and then thrown away, disposable contacts are worn only once before you send them to the trash. These lenses can cost between $70 and $100 for a 90-day supply.

Extended wear silicone hydrogel contacts

These specialty contacts are popular because they allow more oxygen to pass through the lens than alternative types of contacts. If you purchase these, expect the cost to be from $50 to $70 per box.

Rigid gas permeable lenses

While many people prefer the soft contact lenses, some people prefer the rigid gas permeables (RGPs) because they are less likely to cause infection, are easily cleaned and are long lasting.

If you opt for this type of contacts, you can expect to wear the same pair for the whole year, paying $75 to $325 per lens.


Eye exam

To receive your contacts, you must have an annual eye exam and a contact lens prescription. Cost for this exam varies among provider, but you can expect to pay the national average of $114 for a visit to the eye doctor.

This amount changes if you have insurance. Most insurance companies cover the entire cost of an annual exam, while others require you to provide a copay. If you have vision insurance, your policy documents can give you a good idea of what costs to expect.


Upkeep

When you wear contacts, you’ll also need to purchase a contact case as well as a contact lens solution to disinfect and clean your lenses after you take them out in the evening.

If you wear contacts daily, you can expect this additional cost to be $150 to $200.


Insurance

Vision insurance also influences how much you might pay for contact lenses. For example, some providers will cover a set amount of contacts within a given year, as long as they are purchased through an in-network doctor. Coverage options vary from plan to plan.


Conclusion

The price of contacts can vary widely across companies, so it is important to shop around before buying and to check on cost.

Your eye doctor may be able to order for you at wholesale prices, or you might find the lowest cost at an online provider. Just be sure to take shipping and handling into consideration.

If you need a box of lenses quickly, a purchase in store might be the way to go. Just make sure that any provider you use (especially online) is legitimate and carries only FDA-approved contact lenses.

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