The Ultimate guide to cheap contacts and Glasses.

February 17, 2012

I am as blind as a bat without my glasses and normally have at least a spare pair in my purse along with contacts. Because I wear my contacts anywhere between 14-18hours a day, sometimes my eyes reject them and decide to turn puffy and red. I like to call those days glasses days or saturdays. People may buy glasses and contacts for health benefits or for fashion, I wear my mine to function. At one point I own about 7 pairs of glasses. They slowly disappeared when I started wearing contacts, but I still buy a one of 2 pairs of cheap glasses to keep around the house, in the car, or at work.

You may recall when I got caught in a Groupon Nightmare because of my glasses a few weeks ago. That was my attempt at buying at an actual store, mostly I like to shop online for things now. It may be a side affect of blogging ALL THE TIME.

You many have noticed a lot of online stores popping in social networking sites. They even guarantee a cheaper price compared with an offline store.  Although buying online is risky especially  if the site is rather new, but as long as the interface is user friendly, I usually give the site the opportunity. Anyway, before buying online it is still a really good idea to have a prescription from an eye care practitioner and have checked it regularly.

  1. Check your Insurance

My health care plan covers eye exams every 2 years. It differs with different providers. In Ontario children under 18 are covered for 1 exam per year. Its free so get your eyes checked, people. (Can you tell I was pre-optometry undergrad?)If you have a health insurance, check it first if vision coverage is included and look for the benefits for contact lenses.  Why? Take advantage of the percentage discount for every purchase or get an annual allowance for the cost of your contacts and the exam for contact lenses. For example, I can spend up to $200 every 2 years on glasses. These can include contacts, prescription glasses or prescription sunglasses.


  1. Evaluate your buying sources

You can buy your lenses from an optical store, mass merchants, internet sites or online stores and from your eye doctor.  Again, it is still imperative to have a prescription from a doctor.  Although there are times you may find that buying online would be cheaper from your eye doctor or from an optical store.  If you have an optical store near you, you can buy it there since an optician who is on-premises provides eye exams and contact lens fittings. Tip: Also get your contacts fitted the first time. Some brands don’t work well as others.


Check these online retailers for cheap and reliable glasses and contacts:

  • Clearly Contacts  My go to source for contacts. Keep an eye out for bulk discounts and coupon codes
  • Coastal Contacts Same as above but for Americans.
  • Zenni Optical       The best place for Glasses for under $7. The quality is pretty decent, too.
  • 39 Dollar Glasses  Pretty self explanatory.

Other online retailers that I found:


Most sites are very user friendly and allow you to download a little rule to take measurements. You also need your original prescription handy.

  1. Comparing Prices

Before you go shopping for lenses, make sure to  compare prices from an optical store, mass merchants, internet sites or online stores and from an independent eye care practitioner.  Not just for the price lenses but also with the shipping costs and handling rates because charges may vary.  Prices may change often and sometimes there will be no charge at all.

When you visit your eye doctor for an examination or for a follow-up for your lens prescription, it is best to ask the prices of your replacement lens.  You can call or visit any optical stores for the price quotes.  You can also check prices on the internet.  Also its a good idea to ask for any available rebates.

  •  Avoid shipping costs

You can avoid costs of shipping by ordering in large quantities. It’s really better to buy in bulk. I normally ask my siblings or friends if they need contacts or glasses and put through bulk orders. This way I am covered for contacts for the entire year.


Whether you are buying from online or in the actual store, don’t shop impulsively and always have a budget. It is really easy to get carried away when you see glasses for $6.95.  For online, may be the rates is cheap but delivery charge will cost you more.  For offline, it is better to ask the representative of the optical store if you can get any discounts or any bundled products and services. I like to barter with my optician, especially if I have to pay money out of my pocket.

  •  Always do your research

Before buying something, I always check to see where I am going to get the most bang for my buck.  I  do my own estimations of the cost like shipping (for online purchases), fare or gasoline (if I need a trip for a certain store to shop) and time value if it is all worth it.

  • Never assume anything

May be you will find this seller who has lesser expensive for specific lenses but it doesn’t mean that other lenses he has are also less expensive.  Keep in mind that we still have to do our research and compare prices to any optical store, mass merchants, internet sites or online stores and from your eye doctor.


I have not found an optician who can match the prices that I find online and thats why  I tend to buy my contacts and glasses online every other year. The year that I have to submit my receipt to get reimbursed I go to my optician as my health care provider is picky about where I can buy my glasses from.  The point is that if you are paying out of pocket, especially for contacts, do your research and buy online. The only drawback would be for glasses because it rather hard to try them on.


You Might Also Like

  • Jana @ Daily Money Shot February 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t wear glasses or contacts but my husband does. Like you, he is blind without them. For years, we didn’t have vision insurance so we would factor the cost of contacts and the eye exam into our Health Savings Account. This way, we were paying the money pre-tax and we didn’t have to come up with $600 out of pocket at the end of the year.

    Online definitely has its benefits but if that’s something that makes you nervous, there are ways to do it, economically, in person.

  • Kari February 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I use to have perfect vision (that was before I was permanently glued to a computer screen). I’ve bought glasses a couple of times brick and mortar and man were they expensive. I’ve since started buying from Coastal Contacts. I got my first pair for free (just had to pay shipping and for the special no-glare coatings). I was really pleased with how they fit and liked that I could upload a photo of myself to “try them on” before I bought them. Like you said, glasses can be really expensive, so I always try to do my due diligence before making a purchase.

    • Marissa February 19, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      As we should. I always get a bit annoyed when I see the mark-up at some retail stores.

  • Nion February 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I can personally recommend, they were fast, well priced and the service was excellent! My prescription was perfect too. When I had questions it was always promptly answered – the are based in London, UK. I’m in Vancouver, Canada. The entire order only took 3 weeks, and that’s because Vancouver customs kept it for 10days :<

  • Elizabeth February 21, 2012 at 1:07 am

    You are right that not all contacts fit the same – I learned this the hard way, and found myself out several hundred bucks a few years back!

  • Claudia Davis February 21, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Just another online contact store to recommend as I have been using them for over 15 years…..visiondirect. They price match and you can go through ebates to get a % off. They also always seem to have a coupon floating around from anywhere to 12 to 20% off. About 2 years ago, I ordered about 2 years worth of contacts because ebates had a double % off for visiondirect and I had a 25% of coupon for visiondirect. I just am about out of contacts now and just reordered using a 20% coupon. Retailmenot usually lists the best coupons. Visiondirect also price matches plus 5% (or last I checked).

    • Marissa February 21, 2012 at 4:26 am

      Ive never even heard of them. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Amanda L Grossman February 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm


    I have used Zenni Optical in the past with great results. For about $17 I got a pair of prescription sunglasses (purchase tinting). And that was shipped! Three years later I still have them.

    • Marissa February 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Isn’t it amazing!

      I m quite fond of them!

  • Jen @ Master the Art of Saving February 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    I’ve had the same pair of glasses for YEARS. It’s amazing how long they last when you never wear them. 🙂 I’m so bad, they’re really cute but I never seem to wear them. Great tips to save on glasses and contacts, if I ever need to replace my glasses, they’ll come in handy. 🙂

    • Marissa February 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      That is true. I wear contacts so my glasses for just for home.

  • nz contact lens April 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    You do have to be careful about buying contacts online, but it is significantly cheaper. Even ordering from New Zealand (I like their prices and more especially their return/exchange policy). I buy mine from EzyVision. If you were to buy from them and find that the contacts you bought actually DON’T fit well, they’ll let you exchange them, just like your optometrist, and no shipping costs on the return or exchange. They’re great! Sometimes they have deals. And with those deals, even though there’s about a $10 shipping fee it will come out cheaper than a lot of other places. Anyways, just another place you can check out!