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5 Ways to Save on the Cost of Buying Contact Lenses and Glasses

By Chris Bibey

eye doctor glassesIf you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, consider yourself lucky. I have worn both for more than 15 years, and it is not fun – nor cheap. That being said, advancements in the industry have made it easier than ever to get what I need in order to see clearly and comfortably. And since I have been buying glasses and contacts for so long, I have learned a thing or two along the way about saving money.

If you need corrective lenses (and would rather not get into LASIK eye surgery cost and risks), shelling out is unavoidable. But here are 5 ways to help soften the financial blow the next time you have to buy glasses or contacts:

1. Ask your doctor for advice
For many years, I would go to my eye doctor, get my prescription for contacts and glasses, and then hunt around for a “deal.” While there is nothing wrong with this system, and I still do this from time to time, you should also use your doctor’s expertise and “connections” to your advantage. Ask your doctor if he or she can order glasses or contacts for you, perhaps at a significant discount. If not, your optometrist should at least be able to give you advice on where to get quality products at an affordable price.

2. Use the Internet
Buying contact lenses online is usually the way to get the best price. Websites such as 1800Contacts.com, Lens.com, VisionDirect.com, and Zenni Optical offer competitive pricing, a large selection, and top notch customer service. On top of everything, you never have to make an appointment or leave home. Note that some optometrists offer “price matching” in order to compete with these sites; it’s worth asking about, particularly if you have to pick your glasses up anyway.

3. Resist the temptation to buy new frames
While you may need new lenses if your prescription has changed, the same cannot be said for the frames. I recently needed new glasses, and was given a quote of approximately $250 for the lenses and $115 for the frames I was interested in. My old frames are still in perfectly good shape, so I decided to just have new lenses put in them and save $115. Keep this in mind, too, when shopping for new frames, and stick with elegant, classic styles, rather than the latest trend.

4. Look for deals
Some people think that paying for glasses and contacts is the same as paying for a doctor visit. You get a bill and pay what is due. Fortunately, this is not the case. You can save significant amounts of money if you shop online, take advantage of bulk-order discounts and coupons, and keep an eye out for promotional and seasonal sales at glasses stores and optometrist offices.

5. Shop around
Many don’t take the time to shop for the best deal on glasses and contact lenses. I used to be guilty of this myself. Rather than visit three or more local shops or websites, I would find the first one and place an order. Little did I know how much I was overpaying, time and time again. If you want designer frames, you can find them on eBay and at flea markets for a fraction of their retail price. When it comes to glasses and contacts, a small investment of time can save you hundreds of dollars.

Final Word

If you wear glasses and/or contact lenses, you have probably spent some time – as I have – stressing out over how much it can cost to have better eyesight. But rather than dwell on the expense and continue to pay more than you have to, use the tips above and save.

Do you have any tips or strategies for saving on eye exams, glasses or contacts? Share them here!

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey is a freelance writer who over the years has honed his personal finance experience by writing more than 100 feature articles on the subject. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports - West Virginia football in particular!

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  • http://www.squirrelers.com Squirrelers

    This is actually a pretty good topic. I suspect many people go with what their optometrist says, and just order contacts/glasses right there. There might be a habit/trust factor involved, and I can attest to that because this is how I have operated.

    That said, clearly there are savings opportunities by shopping for such items, and it’s smart to look around. Just be sure that you check for insurance reimbursement.

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