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The 8 Best Online Contacts Of 2022 + Why Eye Health Matters

The 8 Best Online Contacts Of 2022 + Why Eye Health Matters
Image by mbg creative
October 15, 2022
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Although our eyes are one of the most critical organs for longevity, they're often not getting the TLC they deserve. About 41 million people wear contact lenses1 in the U.S., and a majority of users fail to properly clean their lenses and replace them. One of the biggest mishaps many users make is failing to replace their lenses in a regular cadence—but it's something the best online contact retailers can help with.

While consulting a physician is always best, the ability to shop contacts online is a convenient (and sometimes more affordable) option to build your stash of contact lenses. It's true that vision changes are to be expected as you age, but finding the right prescription can reduce eye strain, help you see more clearly, and affect your brain health, too.

Keep reading to learn why eye health is so important and to find our picks for the best online contacts.

Quick List:

Best for same day delivery
1-800 ContactsGo to review
Best for using insurance
Contacts DirectGo to review
Best for daily use
LensCraftersGo to review
Best for color contacts
WebEyeCareGo to review
Best for subscriptions
Walmart ContactsGo to review

Why is eye health important?

We can all agree that clearer vision is important for quality of life, but did you know that your eyesight also affects the way you think? According to board-certified naturopathic doctor Erica Steele, who specializes in naturopathic and holistic medicine, "80 to 85% of our perception, cognition, learning, and activities are related to our eyesight." So, taking control of your eye health could benefit a whole lot more than just your vision.

"Having the right contacts allows for your eyesight, perception, and your brain to function in a healthy manner," Steele explains. "Straining and improper contact lens wearing can impact your eye health." Whether you see an optometrist in real life or you opt for one of these online contacts providers, it's imperative that you receive a proper prescription.

Who should wear contact lenses?

If you struggle with your vision, you may be a good candidate for contact lenses. The right contacts can help combat common vision problems, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, and uneven focus (also called astigmatism).

Again, just be sure to talk to your doctor before you start shopping for contacts online. While most reputable brands require a prescription and eye analysis, wearing the wrong contacts can result in more than just awful vision.

"The person could risk damage to their eye, infections, loss of eyesight, chemical reactions, and even blindness," explains Steele. "Technically, even costume or fashion contacts are said to require a prescription to ensure safe manufacturing practices. That way, if there is a recall or an issue with a particular contact lens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can quickly track down the manufacturer to ensure that people are not injured."

Another important thing to remember is that if this is your first time with contact lenses, online ordering is not a safe or practical route to go. You'll need to have a full eye exam, and your doctor will need to train you on how to insert and remove your contacts safely.

How we picked:

Cost

You shouldn't have to break the bank to get quality contacts. We selected affordable options without sacrificing quality or comfort.

Variety

Everyone's vision needs are different. That's why we looked for online contact companies that offer a variety of lenses to fit different eye health concerns.

Convenience

We know you're busy, and the last thing you want to do is waste time dealing with a complicated ordering process or slow shipping. We included companies that make ordering and receiving your contacts as easy as possible.

Safety

Your eyesight is precious, so we want to make sure you're taking care of it. We prioritized companies that use the highest quality materials and adhere to strict safety standards.

Our picks for the best online contacts of 2022:

Best for same-day delivery: 1-800 Contacts

Pros:

  • Free returns and exchanges
  • App-based eye test
  • Decent selection of brands

Cons:

  • Could improve customer service
  • Online vision exam isn't available in every state
Insurance accepted: Yes
Return policy: Free returns on unopened contacts
Subscription available: Yes
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: Yes

Ease is the name of the game when it comes to these contacts. The site offers a huge selection of brands, so (no matter what you're struggling with) you're sure to find the perfect lenses for your eyes. To start, simply download the corresponding app, and you'll be prompted to take an online eye test. This process makes it easy to get a prescription without leaving your house—and if you're not satisfied with your purchase, you can take advantage of their free returns and exchanges policy.

This site accepts insurance and is pretty much always having a sale (you can often get 20% off your first purchase). Once you've entered your prescription or taken the eye test, just pick out your contacts and place your order. Need a refill of an existing prescription? There's even an option to text in your order, and it will be shipped out that night.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Air Optix, Dailies, Biofinity, and more.

Best budget: Discount Contacts

Pros:

  • Low prices
  • Tons of brands
  • Free returns for a year

Cons:

  • Doesn't accept insurance
Insurance accepted: No
Return policy: Free for up to a year
Subscription available: Yes
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: Yes, in certain states

Contact lenses can add up, so it's important to find a company that offers low prices without skimping on quality. While this site doesn't offer insurance either, it does offer low prices on high-quality contacts. There's an impressive selection of over 30 brands, and you get free shipping for all orders over $99. Plus, (per its name) the site often has discounts, including a deal for first-time shoppers.

Another major bonus is that the online eye exam is free. The vision test takes about 15 minutes and an additional 24 hours for your prescription to come through via email. You'll need a computer and a smartphone to take the test. Just note, the vision test is not available for patients under 18 years old or over 55 years old. If you (or the person you're ordering for) fall into this category, you'll need to see a doctor and either go the old-fashioned route or enter your prescription online.

The process for refills is extremely easy, too, and you can also sign up for a subscription to receive your lenses automatically on an interval that works for you, with an additional discount.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Air Optix, Bausch + Lomb, Precision1, Biofinity, and more.

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Best for using insurance: Contacts Direct

Pros:

  • Tons of variety
  • User-friendly website
  • Insurance accepted

Cons:

  • Customer pays return postage
Insurance accepted: Yes
Return policy: 6 months, customer must pay postage
Subscription available: No
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: Yes

If you want a simple, no-fuss place to take care of your eye health, Contacts Direct is it. The site accepts most major insurance providers and has a robust inventory of well-known brands. The user-friendly website makes ordering your supply a breeze, and you can typically count on a discount. Just be aware that if you need to return anything, you'll have to foot the bill for shipping.

To start your order, you'll need to create an account. From there, either enter your prescription or take the site's online vision exam. First, it will ask you to fill out a few brief questions to determine if you are eligible for an online prescription (i.e., when your last eye exam was, what type of eyewear you typically use, and your current prescription). You'll also need to take a picture of your eyes (which you can do right from your computer or phone) so the doctors can check for redness or irritation. The whole process, including the eye exam itself, will take about 10 minutes, and you'll receive your prescription within the next two days.

All that's left to do is order those lenses and they'll be at your door in just a few days. Standard 7- to 10-day shipping is free, or you can pay to expedite.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Air Optix, Biotrue, Precision1, Dailies, and more.

Best for daily use: LensCrafters

Pros:

  • Free shipping
  • Large brand selection

Cons:

  • Not the best customer service
Insurance accepted: Yes
Return policy: Free for up to 30 days
Subscription available: No
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: Yes

LensCrafters offers an impressive variety of brands and free shipping. You can get major discounts when you purchase an annual supply, and the website makes it easy to find the perfect lenses for your eyes. Plus, the site accepts insurance.

For a vision exam, you'll need to head to one of the company's brick-and-mortar locations, so this is only a good option if you have an existing prescription you need to refill—in which case, ordering could not be easier. Simply choose your lenses, enter your prescription and insurance information, and add them to your cart. Once you've made an account, reordering only takes a few minutes, or you can save by ordering an annual supply.

Brands available include: Air Optix, Dailies, Clariti, FreshLook, and more.

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Best for color contacts: WebEyeCare

Pros:

  • Colored contact options
  • Online vision test

Cons:

  • No free returns
  • Doesn't accept insurance
Insurance accepted: No
Return policy: 60 days, customer pays return postage and restocking fee
Subscription available: No
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: No

With a ton of reputable brands to choose from and color contact options, this site is a quick and easy way to order contacts (or glasses) online. Unfortunately, insurance is not accepted. But if you don't mind paying out of pocket, the selection and ease of order could be worth it here.

Another bonus is that you can complete the site's vision test to update your prescription. Just note, (as is typically the case) the vision test is not for people who have never worn contacts before. If you've had a previous prescription and are looking to refresh it, you'll just need to answer a few questions to check eligibility first. Once you complete the test, a licensed prescription provider will send your prescription within the next two days.

On the downside, this is definitely one of the more expensive online vision tests ($35)—and it's important to note that an online vision test is not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam, which will check your eye health, too.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Dailies, Biofinity, Clariti, and more.

Best for astigmatism: ContactLensKing

Pros:

  • Worldwide shipping
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Shipping isn't free
  • Shipping times are vague
Insurance accepted: No
Return policy: Free for up to 30 days
Subscription available: No
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: No

This site offers quality contacts and even better customer service. There's pretty much always a sale running on the site, and the company offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee—so if you're not happy with your purchase, you can send your lenses back with no questions asked. There are a ton of brands to choose from, and you can search by brand, manufacturer, or type of contacts (including colored contacts, daily disposables, and astigmatism / toric lenses).

Once you've picked out your contact lenses, you'll just need to enter your prescription and add them to your cart to order. On the downside, there is no online vision test, and insurance is not accepted. If you're looking for a site that's easy to use, you have an existing prescription, and you don't mind paying out of pocket, this could be a good place to start.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Airoptics, Purevision, Proclear, and more.

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Best overall: Lens.com

Pros:

  • Huge selection of brands
  • Discounts for bulk purchases

Cons:

  • No free shipping
  • Insurance not accepted
Insurance accepted: No
Return policy: 30 days
Subscription available: No
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: Yes

With 28 different brands to choose from, Lens.com is one of the best online contact companies for those who like to have options. Unfortunately, insurance is not accepted, but the site offers discounts for bulk purchases—so the more you buy, the cheaper it gets.

To order, you can share a copy of your prescription or take advantage of the site's vision test to renew your prescription from home. The vision test takes less than five minutes and will add an additional $10 to your purchase. After you complete the exam, a doctor will take up to 24 hours to review your results, and you'll get a copy of your prescription. From there, simply pick out your contacts and add them to your cart to order.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Air Optix, Ultra, Optima, Biofinity, and more.

Best for subscriptions: Walmart Contacts

Pros:

  • Large brand selection
  • Free shipping
  • Low pricing

Cons:

  • Doesn't accept insurance
Insurance accepted: No
Return policy: Free
Subscription available: Yes
Prescription needed: Yes
Eye exam offered: No

If you have an existing prescription and are looking for a quick and easy option with a massive selection of brands, Walmart Contacts is a solid choice. The online contacts platform offers free shipping and subscription options, so you never have to worry about running out. Just be aware that the site doesn't accept insurance, so you'll have to pay out of pocket.

To order, you can either have the company contact your eye doctor to verify your prescription or you can email or fax a copy. The site does mention that having the physical copy to fax or email speeds up the process significantly. That said, there is no online eye exam, so if you need to update your prescription, this is probably not the best option. You can go into one of Walmart's vision centers if you'd like, but it might defeat the purpose of ordering contacts online.

Brands available include: Acuvue, Air Optix, Bausch + Lomb, Eureka!, Biofinity, and more.

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What to consider when buying contacts online.

Safety is the No. 1 factor when buying contacts online, and it's important to only buy from companies that require a prescription. Steel emphasizes this, explaining, "Companies that sell contacts without prescriptions, from an unlicensed vendor have potential risks such as fraud or counterfeit contact lenses that may contain chemical solutions that could damage, irritate, or infect the eye."

If you're still unsure where to look, Steele says a good rule of thumb is to go with a brand your [optometrist or] ophthalmologist recommends. "Many times, the ophthalmologist [doctor] will make a recommendation of an online retailer that they have worked with often," she elaborates. "Look up the specific brand of contact your ophthalmologist [doctor] recommended, type, and always use your prescription. I tend to recommend places where you can upload your prescription rather than write it in just to ensure there is no confusion."

Another huge consideration is that, while ordering contacts online is a helpful way to save time and money, this convenient hack does not replace your need to see a doctor for your regular eye exams. Even if the company you order from offers online vision tests, these tests will only be checking your prescription, not your eye health—which, as we've mentioned, is incredibly important for your overall well-being.

FAQ

Is it safe to buy contacts online?

Yes, just make sure the company you're buying from requires a prescription, your prescription is up to date, and that you’re still keeping up with your regular eye exams.

What is the best quality of contact lenses?

It depends on your specific eye needs, but hydrogel lenses are typically the most popular.

How often should you replace your contact lenses?

It depends on the type of lens. Some last a day, while others can last up to a month. Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations and talk to your doctor if you're still unsure.

Do you need a prescription to order contacts online?

Yes, you need a valid prescription to order contacts online from any reputable company.

The takeaway.

There are a lot of companies selling online contacts, and the sites we included on this list are the best options to consider. As always, consult with your physician before making a decision that will affect your health—as eye care is vital for our overall health and longevity! For more eye care needs, learn about how to pick out eyeglasses that are so good, you'll forget you're wearing them.

Meet The Experts

Shannon Ullman is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Healthline, Medical News Today, Insider, and more.
Jeffrey R. Anshel, O.D. is an optometrist and published author who takes a holistic and nutritional approach to eye health.