Patient Education

Buying Contact Lenses

Consumers are always looking for good deals. There is no difference when it comes to a supply of contact lenses, no matter if they are daily disposables, 2 weeks, monthly, or non-disposable ones. There are plenty of places to buy contact lenses, including major retail stores like Wal-mart, eye wear franchises like LensCrafters, small retailers like optometrist offices, and the numerous online outlets. The choice comes down to the consumer and their preferences like convenience, cheaper prices, helping support local retailers, and other factors. This section goes through the most frequent methods for purchasing contact lenses and compares some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Small Contact Lens Retailers

Small retail businesses include eye wear stores that maybe owned and operated by optometrists, ophthalmologists, or opticians. Many optometrists and ophthalmologists have private practices that offer both eye exams and eye wear as well. Some opticians also go with this business model. These contact lens retailers mainly depend on their current customer base from exams or location near exam facilities.

Advantages: Personal experience with qualified workers to help; check and sometimes change prescriptions without troublesome phone support; support local opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Disadvantages: Often times a little bit more expensive; lack of stock; not as broad of a selection; may be busy due to lack of employees compared to bigger retailers.

Eye Wear Retail Chains

Eye wear retail chains include LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, EyeMasters, and others which are generally bigger than smaller retailers. These contact lens stores have their advertising done by the franchise, and usually have qualified personnel to help consumers in the selection and fitting of contact lenses. Bigger outlets have an optometrist nearby who offers eye exams to consumers, and who can come by because of the proximity.

Advantages: Personal experience with qualified workers to help; support local business; generally wide selection; good deals can be found.

Disadvantages: No immediate access to an eye doctor; prices may be more expensive due to franchise fees and trademarked eye wear; contact lenses may not be in stock.

Major Retail Stores

Some major retail stores have an eye center that offers eye wear and an eye doctor’s office in close proximity. This model is similar to retail chains, but instead the eye center is usually a part of the retail store. Some examples include Wal-Mart’s eye center and Sears’ Optical Center. These retailers often have deals with more suppliers, which in turn lowers the cost of certain contact lenses.

Advantages: Personal experience with qualified workers to help; supports local businesses; generally wide selection; good deals can be found; convenient locations.

Disadvantages: No immediate access to an eye doctor; uncommon contact lens prescriptions may not be in stock.

Online Contact Lenses Retailers

The online contact lens business has boomed recently, and there are a multitude of suppliers since 1-800-contacts made their big splash. Buying contact lenses online can be convenient, but can also be a major hassle because consumers are not face to face with a customer support representative, left to deal with all issues over the phone. This includes wrong orders, changes in prescriptions, and other issues that can arise. Contact lenses are often cheaper than local retailers even with shipping charges included, and these outlets have a vast selection available right away. For consumers looking for bulk buys of contact lenses and have experience in contact lens wear, online retailers can be a perfect fit. Consumers who are new to contact lenses, or are going through changes, may want to stay with a local retailer

Advantages: Wide selection of contact lenses with many brands, prescriptions, and types; cheaper per box and in bulk; easy to order at home.

Disadvantages: No immediate access to an eye doctor; hard to change prescriptions; errors that do occur makes correction a hassle; consumers need to double check contacts to prescriptions; wait for shipping; dealing with customer support over the phone.


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