Can I Buy Contact Lenses Without a Prescription?


You know those crazy zany contacts that are all the rage around Halloween? These nonprescription contacts come in in a wide variety of colors and intriguing effects including cats, vampires, witches, zombies, and spider webs, to name just a few. You may have spotted them at your neighborhood convenience store or beauty salon. Well, guess what? Brick and mortar and online stores that sell these wild and colorful contacts without a prescription are breaking the law.

All Contacts are Medical Devices

Whether decorative or vision-correcting, contacts are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That means you need a valid prescription from a licensed eye care practitioner to buy them. Wearing decorative or vision-correcting contacts without a prescription can damage your site and even cause blindness.

Federal Rules Governing Contact Lenses

In 2004, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines known as the Contact Lens Rule. These guidelines spell out and enforce provisions of the 2003 Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act.

Eye care professionals need to abide by the following guidelines:

  • Provide patients with their prescription at the end of the contact lens fitting — even if they don’t ask for it.
  • Provide or verify the contact lens prescription to any person acting on behalf of the patient, such as contact lens sellers.
  • Correct any inaccuracy in the prescription being verified by the seller and inform the seller if it’s expired or otherwise invalid.

Contact lens sellers need to follow these rules:

  • Only provide contact lenses in accordance with a valid prescription directly presented to them or verified by the contact lens prescriber.
  • Properly verify the order by contacting the prescribing doctor. For example, if a consumer orders contacts online, the seller needs to verify the accuracy of the prescription before filling it.

Order Contacts Online Without Prescription!

Although you need a prescription to legally buy contact lenses, LensDirect makes it easy for you to order. For the fastest service, we recommend uploading your prescription online. You can also email your prescription, fax it to us, or simply provide the name and phone number of your eye doctor and we’ll contact them to fill your prescription. LensDirect also offers a cool new perk — an online vision test you can take from the comfort of your home! Our doctors will review the results and issue a valid contact lens prescription. Of course, you need to keep in mind an online vision test does not replace a comprehensive in-person eye exam.

If you’ve never worn contact lenses and are thinking about doing so, it’s a good idea to learn about all the different types before your eye doctor appointment. That way you can ask your doctor appropriate questions and discuss options during your visit. Then browse our vast selection and choose the best contact lenses for you!



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