What You Need to Know About Buying Contact Lenses Online
We totally get it.
They’re your eyes—and you deserve the best possible contact lenses at the best possible prices and service.
Buying contact lenses used to mean seeking out an eyecare professional, visiting the waiting room, receiving a prescription, then going to fill the prescription right then and there — accepting all costs that come with it unquestionably.
But you’re smarter than that. You know that’s not the only way anymore.
While we still need our eye care professional to check on the health of our eyes and get our initial prescriptions, living in the digital age means there are cheaper avenues to getting your contact lenses and even renewing your contact lens prescription online.
If you have ever wondered whether buying contact lenses online is safe or how you should go about it, then you’ve come to the right place.
And if you have ever feared the thought of “denying” to purchase contact lenses from your eyecare provider by daring to mention the word, “online”, then you’ve also come to the right place.
So, before you search for contact lenses online and buy from just anyone, it’s important to know a few things like:
- Why you should buy them online
- Why they’re cheaper
- Your legal rights when it comes to your prescription. (They are a medical device after all)
Why Should You Buy Contact Lenses Online?
Shouldn’t you always go to an eye doctor when you need something like contact lenses?
While there are plenty of reasons to see an eye doctor regularly (like getting the health of your eyes checked and getting lenses fitted), it doesn’t mean that you must stop by the office just to get a new supply of contact lenses.
Here are some obvious reasons to consider buying them online instead:
- Convenience. Simply put, buying contact lenses online is more convenient.
Not only can you do it from the comfort of your own home, but you’ll be able to skip all the inconveniences of doing things the conventional way.
That means you can secure the right contact lenses for yourself without feeling like you have to jump through a hundred hoops and you can avoid the dreaded disappointing talk of notifying your doctor that you will be purchasing your lenses elsewhere.
- Once you know how to do it, buying contact lenses online saves you a tremendous amount of time.
A few clicks and you’ll have contact lenses at your prescription—there’s no beating that. Even better is that shipping may take as little as 3-4 days depending on whether the retailer is reputable and has your prescribed lenses in stock.
And to save even more time there are many online retailers that automatically send you a supply of contact lenses on a schedule you set so you never have to worry about running out. (yes, even us. *shameless plug*)
- Reduced time and labor into getting your contact lenses means the savings will be passed on to you. Along with coupons that you can find online to help with savings even more.
You can even save up to 40% compared to your eye doctor by shopping for contacts online.
Put these benefits together and you have a powerful case for buying your contacts online. But that’s not everything you need to know about the process.
I’m sure you are still curious as to why they’re cheaper online and want to know whether it’s safe to buy them from someone other than your eye doctor.
Why Are Contact Lenses Cheaper Online?
It comes down to simplicity in selling and a reduced overhead.
Contact lenses bought online will be cheaper because the process is much simpler and there are less business expenses.
There’s no real estate, no staff to accommodate you, and no paying a medical professional for a considerable chunk of their valuable time.
Online contact lens retailers have the advantage of just doing one thing (selling contact lenses) compared to the level of expertise and regulation that is required from your doctor’s office, so that’s where the simplicity passes on to you with a reduced price.
Also, to reduce the time and cost it takes to travel to the doctor’s office, most online retailers offer free shipping with coupons for additional savings.
All these factors combined makes buying contact lenses online more affordable than your average doctor’s office.
But be warned, there are lesser quality lenses of the same brand/manufacturer out there which off sets the reduced price.
If you want to get the best bang for your buck, we advise looking for authorized contact lens retailers and looking at the level of customer care of the online retailer you are purchasing from.
So don’t be fooled into purchasing from a lesser priced retailer that may not serve all your needs! (like shipping times, quality of lenses, return policy)
What is the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act—and Is It Important?
There’s more to the story than just affordability. It’s important that you not only understand that buying contact lenses online comes with more than a few benefits, but that you also have certain rights as a consumer of contact lenses.
The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act was designed with people like you in mind. This act, passed well over a decade ago, is designed to give you more rights and options when it comes to selecting your contact lenses.
It prevents unlawful business practices such as monopolizing your private medical information and ensures that you’ll have everything you need to secure affordable contact lenses. Here’s what you’ll need to know:
- You have the right to a copy of your prescription. This is information about you, after all. That’s why the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act requires optometrists and licenses opticians to provide you with a copy of the contact lens prescription you receive after a fitting. This ensures that you have access to the information you need, giving you the option to then buy your contact lenses online if you so desire.
- You can use your prescription information at your leisure, as this Act also requires prescribers to provide/verify your prescription information when you need it.
- No requirements of purchase. The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act also prevents these providers from requiring that you purchase contact lenses from them.
- That means if someone is trying to sell you contact lenses simply because they prescribed them to you and hints that you’re required to buy from them, you know you’re dealing with someone who’s being deliberately misleading.
How can you protect yourself? We have a few ideas:
Watch for These Warning Signs—and Know Your Rights
Since you have rights when it comes to shopping around for contact lenses, it helps to know when those rights are under threat.
Here are some warning signs that you’re not dealing with a reputable professional:
- When they don’t provide you with your prescription information.
According to the AMA,
“Patients have an ethically and legally recognized right to prompt access to the information contained in their individual medical records.”
If someone does not provide you with that, then you know something is wrong.
- If an eye care provider were ever to have you sign something to receive your prescription, look out.
It’s actually illegal to make people sign a waiver in this case. Just as a family doctor wouldn’t require you to sign something to receive your medicine, don’t expect to sign something like that to be able to purchase contact lenses. You have the right to shop around! So don’t feel pressured when your doctor assumes you will be purchasing from them and stay strong.
- When they deny or mislead prescription authorization from online retailers. When you purchase contacts online and upload a copy of your prescription – retailers must verify your prescription with your doctor’s office before shipping them out.
The law allows for 8 business hours before they are allowed to ship them out after attempting to contact your eye doctor to verify your prescription. It’s not unheard of to hear of denials and misleading information coming from care providers in order to prevent lenses from being bought elsewhere so be weary – the delay in getting your lenses may not be solely in the hands of the retailer.
- If an eye care provider ever says that they can’t give you your prescription upon not completing the fitting process, it applies to new wearers being fitted for something new.
- But if you only need a refill, then this is not the case. By federal law, your prescription will be good for at least one year, which means you have the right to obtain this prescription from a medical provider for your own contact lens shopping needs.
The good news is that if you already see a licensed professional, you likely won’t run into these issues. But it’s always important to know your rights.
That’s All You Need to Know for Now
Buying contact lenses online is something anyone should be able to do in order to secure the best quality and lowest cost for their medical needs. By now you should have a basic understanding of your rights and how the contact lens market works online.
So, go. See your doctor, grab your prescription and shop confidently wherever you decide, whether that’s at your doctor’s office or online.
But if you’re now wondering where to buy contact lenses online – that’s coming up in our next post. We will go over what you should look for in a retailer when shopping for them online and explain why contact lenses prices can vary so much from store to store, stay tuned!