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Are Contacts Expensive? Here’s Why the Answer Is No

woman wearing glasses wondering “are contacts expensive?”

“Are contacts expensive?” That's usually the first question asked when people first think about getting a prescription for contact lenses.

Millions of people wear contact lenses, so it's safe to assume that they can't be too expensive. Otherwise, more people would stick with glasses or choose another option to correct their eyesight.

The truth is, there are many factors that go into pricing contact lenses. Read on to learn what those factors are. You’ll also find out how the cost of contacts compares to other types of vision correction.

What Affects the Cost of Contact Lenses?

coins stacked in ascending height

If you want to know how much contact lenses cost, you'll have to start with the various factors that affect pricing. These are dependent on your situation, the type of vision correction you need and your personal preferences.

Here are the main factors that will influence the cost of your contact lenses.

How Often You Replace Them

How often you replace your contacts depends on what you prefer. The most popular contacts on the market are soft disposable ones. You can replace them daily, twice a month, or monthly. Daily disposables tend to be much more popular, because their super-convenient to wear. They don't require any contact solution or regular cleaning.

If you go with daily disposable contacts, they will cost a little more than monthly disposable lenses. But the extreme convenience is worth the extra cost.

What Your Lenses Are Made From

The materials used in your contact lenses also play a role in the cost. There are a few types of hydrogel contacts with different water content. The more water in hydrogel contacts, the more oxygen can get through the lenses.

Recent developments in contact lens manufacturing have introduced more breathable contact lenses. These are made out of silicone hydrogel and they're more comfortable. However, they cost a bit more than older contact lens types.

If You Need to Correct Presbyopia

senior man wearing reading glasses holding tablet

You probably don't need to worry about presbyopia until you hit 40. Once you’ve gone past that age, you might start losing focus on nearby objects (like a restaurant menu or labels on packaging!). This means you’ll need more help with reading.

If you wear contacts and get prescribed reading glasses, you'd wind up wearing glasses over your contact lenses. Not a bad thing. But advances in technology have made it possible to wear multifocal lenses, so you don't have to choose between contacts and glasses. These lenses are more expensive than standard contact lenses.

If You Have Astigmatism

Astigmatism is an issue with your eye that affects the cornea. It changes how your eye focuses incoming light. This happens when your cornea is shaped like a football instead of a spherical ball.

It used to be that if you had astigmatism, you couldn't correct it with standard, soft contact lenses. These days, contact brands accommodate astigmatism. There are different varieties available such as disposable and colored lenses.

These contact lenses are more expensive than those that don't correct astigmatism. Again, the replacement schedule will also impact how expensive your contacts can be.

Where You’re Buying Your Contact Lenses

You have many choices of where to buy your contact lenses once you get your prescription. Where you choose to buy your contacts will impact the cost. The brand and manufacturer's rebates might be available, which reduce the cost of your contact lenses.

Plus, there's always a chance you can buy contact lenses on sale.

Are Contact Lenses Expensive?

Now that you know what goes into the price of contact lenses, let's find out if contact lenses are expensive or not. Generally speaking, they're not pricey. This is especially true when compared to other forms of vision correction.

Contacts vs. Lasik Surgery

If you get Lasik surgery, you could expect to pay about $4,200 to have the surgery done on both eyes. That's quite a bit more than a box of contact lenses.

According to Acuvue, contact lenses can cost $175 to $1400 per year, depending on the factors listed above. You could break even with Lasik surgery anywhere between 3-24 years.

Contact Lenses vs. Glasses

blonde woman deciding between contacts or glasses

The battle between glasses and contact lenses rages on.

The cost of glasses depends on several factors, too. For instance, the cost of the frame will vary, as will the lenses, depending on what needs to be corrected. Multifocal lenses will cost more than single vision ones.

Higher powered lenses will also cost more. This is especially true if you opt for high-index (ultra-thin) lenses. If your prescription is high, say -8.00, high-index lenses are pretty much necessary to avoid distortion in your vision.

You should expect to pay between $100 to $400 for the lenses, and anywhere from $50 all the way up to over $1,000 for the frame. The higher end of the spectrum is if you opt for designer frames. If you want your lenses coated, you can expect to pay about $150 more.

So, how does that compare with contact lenses? On the surface, you pay for glasses once, so it seems like you’re ahead when comparing prices. But remember: you're still going to have to get new glasses every one or two years as your prescription and eyewear fashion changes.

So really, you're spending as much on glasses as you would on contact lenses, if not more.

Advantages of Contact Lenses

brunette woman with tennis racket on court

Besides the dollars and cents of contact lenses, there are other advantages you should take into consideration, too.

One of the best things about wearing contact lenses is that they're very convenient. People of all different lifestyles can wear them, whether they sit in an office or train in the gym.

Not only that, but they don't impact your looks the way that glasses do. They look and feel natural to most people who wear them.

Contact lenses are also great to have if you're active. They stay put while you're playing sports and significantly improve your peripheral vision.

Glasses tend to fog up outdoors when it's very humid or cold. Your vision can sharply decrease in the rain as the rain falls on your lenses. You won't have those problems with contact lenses! What joy!

Contact Lenses Are Very Affordable

So are contacts expensive? Considering the points above, no, they're not.

While there are many factors that determine the cost of contact lenses, they're quite an affordable option to correct your vision. Speak to your eye care specialist today if you want a prescription for contact lenses.

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