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If you’re one of the 61% of the population who wears contacts or glasses, then you know how pricey they can be.
And Lord help you if you have more than one family member that needs eyewear, because then you’re looking at spending potentially hundreds of dollars every year on new glasses, contact lenses, or both.
We’ve got the scoop on how to save money on the cost of glasses and contact lenses — so you can keep those hundreds right in your pocket while still finding quality eyewear at a reasonable price.
1. Get eye exams at America’s Best for 18.17 per person.
Regular eye exams at a local optometrist can average between $50-$150 depending on where you live.
At America’s Best, an eye exam for contacts is $99 which might seem a little high at first. But if you opt in to their Eye Care Club for $109, you can get eye exams for free for three years.
That $109 entitles you to two eye exams a year for three years, which is perfect if you have multiple family members who need glasses or contacts. This brings the cost of each eye exam down to $18.17 each over the course of the three years. To sweeten the deal, America’s Best also offers discounts on glasses for their Eye Care Club members, such as free shipping when you buy four boxes.
2. Buy glasses and contacts online to save up to 70%.
There are some super great websites that sell glasses for less than your eye doctor might charge. You can score great deals on contacts too, especially if you buy in bulk. Here are a few of the top contenders for shopping online along with some of the incentives they offer to save you money on glasses and contacts:
- 1800contacts: Sign up for their email list and get a coupon for 10% off your first order, and refer friends to get $10 each time a friend orders through them as well.
- Zenni Optical: Buy glasses for as low as $7. Yes, $7. And you can upload a picture of yourself to virtually “try on” frames.
- GlassesUSA: Save up to 70% on retail prices and get a coupon code for 65% off your first set of frames.
- 39dollarglasses: Choose from a huge selection of glasses for only $39.
3. Skip the expensive add-ons like progressive lenses and blue-light coating.
Depending on your prescription and your lifestyle, you may want to get certain add-ons like anti-reflective coating to reduce glare or light-adjusting lenses for when you move from indoors to out. But you really don’t need these features unless you have a high prescription (above +/- 3.00).
Plus, if you’re using a flexible spending account to pay for glasses, some add-ons might not be covered. So be sure to do your research on which extras you might really need and which you can skip.
For example: Last time I went to get new glasses I ordered a pair with progressive, non-glare coated changeable tint lenses. The total cost? Over $750. Yikes!
We broke down the approximate costs for some common add-ons when ordering glasses:
- Single vision lenses: As low as $8. These are basic lenses — all you’ll need if you’re only near-sighted or only far-sighted.
- Bifocals (lined): $109. If you need glasses to see near and far, you’ll need these.
- Progressive lenses: $260. Bifocals that don’t have an obvious line and make it easier for your eyes to transition.
- High-index progressive lenses: $350. Reduces weight and thickness of the lens.
- Anti-scratch coating: Generally free.
- Anti-reflective coating: $50-$100. This coating makes your glasses anti-smudge and now comes with anti-fog coating.
- Ultraviolet coating: $20-$100. Most lenses come with this coating, but double-check to be sure.
- Photochromic coating: $50-$100. Also known as “transition lenses,” these are the ones that turn into sunglasses automatically in bright light.
- Blue light blocking coating: $30-$180. This reduces eye strain by blocking some of the LED light that comes from a computer screen. Research on the benefits of this coating is still inconclusive.
You can see how choosing multiple add-ons can quickly add up to a pair of glasses that costs over $700. So be picky and only choose what you actually need and you could potentially save hundreds on your eyewear!
4. Buy from GlassesUSA because you don’t need an updated prescription.
Let me tell you a little story: I bought glasses online at GlassesUSA last year. I went online last week to look into buying prescription sunglasses. I found some I loved, so I went to check out and noticed I had a “saved” prescription, so I selected it and applied it to my order. And then I bought my sunglasses. My prescription is expired, but Glasses USA didn’t care. Mic drop.
5. Try on Warby Parker glasses at home for free, but buy similar ones at Glasses USA instead.
I’ve been doing this for a long time. Warby Parker has a fantastic selection of glasses and the styles are A+. The prices — not so much, IMO.
Warby Parker offers free in-home try on, and you can order up to five frames to try on at home with no obligation for five days. I choose frames I like, try them on at home, and then send them back using WP’s prepaid return label. Next I jump on Glasses USA online and find the closest match for the Warby Parkers I liked. They’re at least half the price, sometimes more than that at Glasses USA.
6. Reuse your still-good eyeglass lenses in a new frame.
Is your prescription the same as last time you visited the eye doctor? If your frames break but the lenses are still good, you could save money by skipping brand new lenses and just springing for new frames.
Choose a new frame that’s shaped like your last pair or maybe a little smaller, and ask your optometrist to put your old lenses in. Just remember that you can’t choose frames with larger lenses than the ones you already have.
Note: It’s more challenging to reuse progressive or multifocal lenses in new frames because the placement of your corrective lens depends on the shape of the frame.
7. Or keep your old frames and have new lenses put in them.
If your lenses are scratched but your frames are still good (or you’re in love with them), you can take your frames into an eyeglass store and have just the lenses replaced. Now, they’ll try and talk you out of doing this, because the average markup on eyeglass frames is around 250%. Brick and mortar eyeglass stores make a lot of their profit this way!
You can use this same trick if you find a perfect pair of designer frames or sunglasses at a discount store such as TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. Take them into your eye doctor to have prescription lenses put into them.
8. Shop for glasses at big-box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco to save an average of 33% (or more).
If you’re in an area that lays claim to a Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s and you need glasses, you’re in luck. These retailers offer prescription glasses for much lower than your traditional eyeglasses center, up to 33% less.
For example: Right now Sam’s Club is running their famous promotion for $40 off each additional set of glasses when you purchase one regularly priced pair, or $50 off one regularly priced pair of glasses with the purchase of a year’s supply of contact lenses. They also have great deals on eye exams, with a Sam’s Club basic contact eye exam running you just $50.
Stack a deal like that on top of an already 33% savings, and you’re looking at great prices for your eyewear. Plus you can pick up bulk goldfish crackers in the same trip!
9. Use code SAVE25 to get 25% off your contacts purchase at Walgreens.
Using this coupon code, you can save on every single box of contacts you buy through Walgreens. Here’s the kind of savings you can expect:
- Air Optix Aqua: Originally $49.99 a box, $34.49 after discount.
- Air Optix Night & Day: Originally $67.99 a box, $50.99 after discount.
- 1-day Acuvue Moist: Originally $66 for a box of 90, $49.50 after discount.
You can’t use your Balance Rewards to pay for your contacts, sadly. What Walgreens does offer that’s awesome? Free standard shipping on all contact lens orders, and they have a super-simple-to-navigate contact lens rebate center so you can check which brands are offering current rebates for saving you even more money. Stack rebates with their coupon code for some serious savings.
10. Use a flexible spending account to pay for your vision costs if you can.
If your employer offers a flexible spending account, or FSA, you have the option of depositing money into the account pre-tax to pay for medical expenses such as eye exams, prescription glasses or sunglasses, contacts, and contact lens solution.