Monthly and Yearly Cost of Contact Lenses

Type of contacts and insurance affect pricing

It can be difficult to estimate the cost of contact lenses because so many variables can affect the price. Optometrists' and ophthalmologists' offices determine their own prices for contact lenses, as well as for the exams needed to prescribe them and follow-up visits.

Some eye doctors combine these fees into one price but many do not. Your vision plan and insurance coverage also will affect the cost of your contact lenses, and you'll also have to consider cleaning supplies.

Read on for general information about the types and price of contact lenses to get you started.

Contact lens case on a glass counter
Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Types of Contact Lenses

Many different types of contact lenses are available today. Your optometrist will be able to determine the type of lenses that would be most beneficial to you. Typical prices of contact lenses vary depending on the type of lens and the prescription required.

For example, if your vision requires you to wear a contact lens to correct astigmatism, your lenses will be called toric lenses. Toric contact lenses will cost more than the soft contacts used to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Many toric lenses are meant to be replaced twice monthly. However, some healthcare providers will tell you that these lenses can safely be replaced less frequently to lower the monthly cost.

Other features that may increase contact lens prices include:

  • Bifocal contact lenses, used by older people with presbyopia
  • Colored contact lenses, which cost up to 80% more
  • Special-effect lenses, which have similarly higher prices

Contact Lens Prices

To give you an idea of the price ranges, here are some average contact lens prices taken from commercial optical centers, online contact lens retailers, and private healthcare provider offices.

  • Daily disposables: $55 to $95 per box (8 boxes/annual supply)
  • Two-week disposables: $25 to $55 per box (8 boxes/annual supply)
  • Two-week toric (astigmatism) disposables: $50 to $65 per box (8 boxes/annual supply)
  • Monthly disposables: $45 to $85 per box (4 boxes/annual supply)
  • Monthly toric (astigmatism) disposables: $55 to $95 per box (4 boxes/annual supply)
  • Conventional-yearly soft lenses: $25 to $100 per lens (2 lenses/annual supply)
  • Rigid gas permeable lenses: $75 to $325 per lens (2 lenses/annual supply)
  • Hybrid RGP/soft lenses: $250 to $500 per lens (4 lenses/annual supply)

How Much Does Insurance Pay?

Keep in mind that some or all of the cost of contact lenses may be covered under your insurance plan. Your optometrist likely will itemize the cost to maintain industry standards for billing, and vision plans and insurance companies may pay for some but not all services.

Where to Buy Contact Lenses

When it comes to buying contact lenses, you're likely to find quite a few options. Keep in mind that you'll always first need a prescription for contact lenses, which will need to come from an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

These providers may be in private practice, or they may work for an optical center in your community. Also consider that a provider may offer "one-stop shopping" and sell your contact lenses themselves, or you may go buy the lenses at retail stores or order contact lenses online.

These decisions will affect the price of your contact lenses. As a rule, you can expect that:

  • The cost of contact lenses from a private-practice optometrist can be more expensive. However, you may find the streamlined process more convenient (especially for insurance purposes) and it's common for these providers to offer manufacturer rebates that online outlets do not.
  • The contact lens price is often lower when ordering your contact lenses online, but there may be shipping charges. Keep an eye out for any volume discounts, and remember that it may be more difficult to order specialty or custom-designed lenses online.
  • Retail outlets such as LensCrafters can accept your prescription or even do your exam and fitting on site. The cost of your contact lenses will be competitive, but keep in mind that Walgreens, CVS Optical, and other retailers still need to ship your contact lenses to you and rely on online ordering systems.

Do You Have to Get a Prescription for Contacts?

Federal law prohibits dispensing contact lenses without a valid prescription. Unfortunately, there are a few online contact lens retailers that sell contact lenses without a prescription. The Federal Trade Commission has recently shut down many of these illegal websites.

Cleaning and Safety

Contact lenses are a safe and convenient option to correct your vision, but they are also medical devices that must be cared for properly in order to maintain healthy vision.

You should take certain hygiene measures to avoid possible eye infections or serious eye problems. One serious health risk associated with contact lens wear is a corneal infection.

Washing your hands thoroughly with an antimicrobial soap before handling your contacts is extremely important for safe contact lens wear.

Other health and safety measures to consider include:

  • Never swap or share lenses with anyone, which can lead to infection and other serious eye problems.
  • Never wear your contact lenses for longer than recommended by your eye doctor.
  • Don't sleep in your contacts, because a contact lens impairs oxygen flow to the cornea. The cornea has no blood flow, so it relies on oxygen in the air to stay healthy.

As you add up the cost of contact lenses, don't forget the annual expense of disinfectant solutions and washes, as well as eye rinses and drops. These can add $140 to $200 per year to the total cost of using contacts.

Summary

The price of contact lenses will vary on the basis of several factors. These factors include the type and style of lens, your own prescription, the optometry fees, and how and where you buy your contact lenses.

Your vision plan and insurance coverage also will affect the cost of your contact lenses. Be sure that you understand the details of your contact lens costs and which parts you will pay for.

Once you have your contacts, be sure to wear them in a safe and healthy manner. Always practice careful hygiene when handling them, never share contacts, and only wear them as intended. If you have questions, be sure to talk to your optometrist about how to best use your contact lens.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if I'm using contact lenses safely?

    It's important to follow the use and care instructions exactly. It's quite common for people to think they're using contact lenses properly when they're really not. A survey of 299 users found 19.1% never cleaned their cases, 68.6% exposed lenses to tap water, and 26.4% failed to replace them within six months as recommended. Replacing lenses when indicated is also part of their safe use.

  • Do contact lenses cost less than eyeglasses?

    The answer will depend on how you typically use and wear your vision gear. With contact lenses, you'll be discarding them as directed, depending on the style and how long they can be worn. For many people, this makes the cost of contacts more expensive than the more durable eyeglasses. On the other hand, the style, lens prescription, or typical use of eyeglasses may make the price of contact lenses more expensive.

  • What about the plastic waste associated with contact lenses?

    Not all costs are monetary, and some people are concerned about the plastic waste associated with contact lenses. That's especially true if you throw them away after a single use. One study found that 15% to 20% of users in the United States flush their contact lenses down the toilet, adding microplastics into wastewater. You may want to consider these kinds of life cycle costs, too, when deciding on a contact lens product or whether to wear eyeglasses.

Was this page helpful?
6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kessel L, Andresen J, Tendal B, Erngaard D, Flesner P, Hjortdal J. Toric intraocular lenses in the correction of astigmatism during cataract surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysisOphthalmology. 2016;123(2):275-286. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2015.10.002

  2. Federal Trade Commission. The contact lens rule: a guide for prescribers and sellers.

  3. Wu YT, Willcox M, Zhu H, Stapleton F. Contact lens hygiene compliance and lens case contamination: A reviewCont Lens Anterior Eye. 2015;38(5):307-316. doi:10.1016/j.clae.2015.04.007

  4. Cope JR, Konne NM, Jacobs DS, et al. Corneal infections associated with sleeping in contact lenses - six cases, United States, 2016-2018MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(32):877-881. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6732a2

  5. Cardona G, Alonso S, Yela S. Compliance vs. Risk Awareness with Contact Lens Storage Case Hygiene and Replacement. Optom Vis Sci. 2022 Feb 14. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001881.

  6. Rolsky C, Kelkar VP, Halden RU. Nationwide Mass Inventory and Degradation Assessment of Plastic Contact Lenses in US Wastewater. Environ Sci Technol. 2020 Oct 6;54(19):12102-12108. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03121.

Additional Reading