Unlike reading glasses, contact lenses are medical devices that require you to follow an established process to purchase them and often require a prescription to use them.
You can’t just decide on a pair you saw with a friend and order for one.
But are they difficult to order online?
No. But you have to pay attention to a few guidelines especially when ordering online.
Before seeing your eye doctor, here are some basics you need to be familiar with:
Contact Lens Material
When buying contact lenses online, the first thing you want to consider is the main material in the contact lens.
Each has their strengths and your lifestyle and eye structure may have an influence on what you can use. Contact lenses com in different types based on the material make-up:
- Soft lenses
- Silicone hydrogel lenses
- Gas permeable lenses
- Hybrid contact lenses
These are the thinnest of this class. They contain a gel-like substance called hydrogels and conforms to the front surface of the eye.
They are immediately comfortable upon insertion and are the most prescribed type of lens – after silicone hydrogel lenses – in the US in 2017.
Silicone hydrogel lenses
They are more permeable than soft lenses and typically have higher oxygen transmissibility.
While they are newer than hydrogel lenses, they have ranked as the most prescribed lens type in the United States, thanks to their superior comfort features.
Gas permeable lenses
They might take longer for your eyes to adjust to them. However, they do provide sharper vision than soft and silicone hydrogel lenses.
While they are harder, they allow oxygen transmission to the eyes and fit closer to the eyes.
Hybrid contact lenses
These lens offer the comfort features of the soft and silicone hydrogel lenses combined with the sharper vision that gas permeable lenses offer.
Even with these features, they are still not as popular or widely used as the others because of the difficulties of fitting them to the eye and high cost of replacing them.
So, which one should you go for? While it’s easy to instantly choose one based on your own nuances, you may get a better answer from your eye doctor.
Is it Safe to Buy Contact Lenses Online?
Online contact lens purchases have expanded in the last few years and the growth seems to continue on an upward trend.
More and more people are buying online because of the ease and convenience of shopping online. However, you can’t just jump in without question.
Before you choose to buy online, you may have to consider the risks involved and whether it’s good for you too. Since you are buying something that goes into your eyes, you need to pay more attention.
First, contact lenses are a medical device and then come with different options.
Wearing the wrong one in your eyes may cause permanent damage to your eye. And buying online may even be riskier since you won’t (usually) have the guidance of your ophthalmologist.
Possible Risks of Wearing Contact Lenses
Whether you are buying corrective contact lenses or decorative lenses, there are few risks you should pay attention to:
- If you are buying your contacts from a foreign country, you may be buying a compromised lens. This may be due to lack of regulatory body monitoring the production of lenses in such country. For this reason, it is wise to buy lenses from countries like Canada or USA, where there is a strong presence of a regulatory body.
- Even if you have an up-to-date prescription, you may end up ordering contacts that don’t fit your eye properly. This is the advantage of ordering offline – you are able to test every pair before handing out your money. Some contact lens sellers do offer to send you the pairs to test. You only pay if the lenses meet your needs but these are far in between.
- Some retailers claim you can get contact lenses without prescriptions or offer some “one-size-fits-all” lenses that you can buy cheap. If you come across any of this, it should be a red flag because you can get the correct lens size and fit without your prescription. Reputable retailers won’t sell contacts unless you provide an up-to-date prescription from your eye doctor.
- Chances of buying incorrect contact lenses are quite high if you are buying online. Sometimes, you may order for a particular lens made of certain material and then receive an entirely different one, which will be mostly unusable.
The biggest takeaway is that most purchases online is unregulated and there is a good chance you may not get what you ordered unless you are using one of the reputable brands like Coastal, the leading retailer of eyewear.
Important Things to Consider When Buying Contact Lenses Online
If you are going to buy online, consider these two important points:
Get Your Eye Doctor Involved
Since your eyes are not replaceable, you can’t afford to make mistakes that might cost you your vision.
This is why it’s important to only trust an eye professional when you are dealing with eye-related products like contacts.
This means you should get a recommendation from your doctor about what’s the best fit for your eyes.
And because lenses differ in material, fit, curvature, oxygen permeability, only your eye doctor can recommend the proper lens for you.
Although your lifestyle also matters when choosing contact lenses, your doctor is in the best position to educate you on how to insert, remove, and properly take care of your lenses.
Do Your Eye Exam
An eye exam offers the opportunity to have your eyes properly checked and your doctor can provide a proper diagnosis for any problem.
This will also allow your eye doctor to provide an accurate prescription for the corrective lens that will suit your eye at any point in time.
You shouldn’t skimp on this (especially routine eye exam) because your eyes change as you age and contact lens brand that may suit you today may be totally unsuitable in the future.
And if you don’t pass through a recent or updated eye examination prior to purchasing a new lens, you may end up purchasing the wrong one which might open the door to more problems.
Have an Updated Contact Lens Prescription
In many countries, you are required to update your contact lens prescription every one or two years.
While you may feel your eyes are healthy and you have the perfect vision, it’s important to see your eye doctor examine your eye’s health.
This is because our eyes constantly undergo changes and within and significant changes may have occurred in the space of a year.
The physical features of your eyes may have changed and the moisture content may have increased or decreased such that a new lens material is needed.
Ignoring this may translate into the wrong usage of prescription contact or corrective lenses which might further degrade the quality of your vision.
Compare Costs and Online Retailers Before Purchasing
Among the perks of ordering your lenses online is the ability to compare brands and pricing in a short period of time and without leaving the comfort of your home. And this can save you a great deal when done properly.
Usually, bigger and popular online retailers will offer you more value for your more.
Compared to the smaller online retailers, they may likely have faster processing time and shipping, promo codes on qualifying order, and a significant discount on large orders.
And the inventory is also large as to cater for the occasional rare prescription. However, this doesn’t mean you should totally ignore the small players.
What you want to do is compare them on the basis of the quality of their services and not solely on price.
So, if you find a smaller brand offering satisfactory service and a great price, you should go with them unless you have a suspicion.
If you are looking to save, you can also buy in bulk, usually a year’s worth of lens provision. This will help you save regardless of where you are buying from.
Note: make sure you don’t stock beyond the expiry date of your prescription.
Before Making Your Order
Before ordering contact lenses from any company, you should ensure the following are in place so as to safeguard your hard-earned money:
- Telephone order: You want to ensure that the company you are buying from is actually legitimate and not just a website. A true mail order company should have a line you can contact them with when the online portal is not accessible.
- How soon will your contact get to you? A good business will tell you if what you order is in stock and the date it will get to you. If you are dealing with a smaller company, the inventory may be small and your order may not arrive online. Typically, bigger and well-known retailers are able to accommodate rare prescriptions and have the structure in place to process your order faster.
- Only deal with companies you can trust with your credit card information: While this is obvious, it’s worth mentioning. There is always some risks attached to buying things online and even more risk when you are dealing with a company you know nothing about. This is why we always recommend buying from reputable companies like Coastal.com. Typically, any online eyewear brand will be listed on the Beter Business Bureau (https://www.bbb.org/) and you can see the general level of satisfaction and how much complaint has been put up against the company.
- How’s the customer service? Sometimes, you may have problems with the contact lens you buy or get incorrect lenses. And other times, you may need immediate reply to your inquiries so knowing that you will get a faster response is great.
Where to Buy Contact Lenses Online
After completing your eye exam and updating your contact lens prescription, you are now ready to purchase your contact lenses.
But where do you buy it? It’s up to you to buy from your doctor’s office or online.
If you decide to buy online, there are many established retailers that offer contact lenses.
One thing you’ll come across often is price differentials, which can be a good thing if you are on a budget since you’ll look through many and see which one offers the best deal.
To save yourself the stress of going through several listings, we recommend you shop from Coastal as it’s an established source.
Here, you will find some of the best prices for any contact lenses and if you come across a cheaper price elsewhere, they will match it for you.
There are other sources but don’t fall for the promise of cheap contact lenses especially if the brand is not well known.
A Little Bit About Us…
Eyewear Avenue is dedicated to providing the best advice and expertise on optical items.
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Always consult your eye care professional for personalized optical advice. It’s important to have your eyes examined regularly and seek the advice of a specialist in this area before commencing a new treatment.
What works for others may not be suitable for you, so do your due diligence before making any changes to your eye care routine.
This information is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. All rights reserved.