Contact Lens Cost Cutting


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Jan 28, 2007
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Contact Lens Cost Cutting

Cheap Contact Lens Finder: Compare prices from 10 suppliers & get cheap contact lens discount codes too

See sense and HALVE the annual cost of your contact lenses. Specialist UK contact lens websites let you slash annual costs by £100s and chop a third off laser eye-surgery costs.

This is all about getting exactly the same lenses, made by the same company, with the same prescription, for less. Even opticians' own brands are usually simply identical lenses with different packaging.
1. You've a legal right to your prescription

Legally, opticians must hand over your prescription once you've been fitted with lenses. You can then take it to a specialist discounter.

Any reputable online retailer won't dispense contact lenses without verifying your prescription first or seeing the original prescription. Usually they will only prescribe what you've been fitted for (unless they're disguised own brand lenses, see point 3 for details). Your prescription will need to be from within the last year.

Some dodge these UK regulations by shipping your lenses from overseas. But if you buy from overseas, you lose all your UK consumer rights and are far less protected if something goes wrong.
2. Don't skip aftercare

When buying lenses online, it's still vital to get regular aftercare. Unlike those who buy lenses from their opticians, you'll have to pay for it, but the saving from the lenses should outweigh this.

Aftercare appointments cost between £15 and £30. The College of Optometrists says the number of check-ups you need depends on your circumstances. "Your optometrist will advise you on the best contact lenses for you and the appropriate care regime. Wearers are advised to go for regular check-ups. However, if you notice changes to your vision, the way your eyes feel or the way your eyes look, you are advised to stop using your lenses immediately and make an appointment with your optometrist".
3. Same lenses, different name?

Some own brand lenses, eg, Boots, are simply made by one of the big manufacturers and re-packaged. But you can still save big bucks on them. Pick your own-brand lenses in the tool above and it will show you the manufacturer's lenses.

Online retailers are allowed to dispense the manufacturer's alternative, even if you've not officially been fitted with these.

Or see a full list of own brand lenses and who manufactures them (sourced from Lenstore).
4. Direct debit schemes can be competitive

Many opt for monthly direct debit schemes from high street opticians which include lenses, solution and aftercare appointments for one fixed fee. Quite often these can be beaten by buying lenses and solutions online for less and paying for aftercare separately. Eg, Tesco offers contact lens aftercare for £15.

They can be competitive, but buying online usually wins, so do check. For example, 1-Day Acuvue toric lenses cost £40/month on Specsavers' monthly scheme, or £43 on Boots' scheme. Yet you can get them online for around £425 for a year's supply. So factor in the aftercare and you can still save £20-£50.
5. Reclaim the costs

There's a further way to cut lens costs. Healthcare Cashplans allow you to reclaim the cost of dental, optical and other forms of healthcare, whether it's via the NHS or not.

Technically, they're insurance policies which pay out when you incur healthcare costs. You pay a monthly payment (called a premium) and then when you lay out your own cash for a treatment, reclaim a percentage of the costs back, up to a pre-determined maximum. Full details in the full Healthcare Cashplans article.
6. Are all online sellers legit?

The General Optical Council says UK regulations mean online contact lens sellers must have optical professionals involved in the selling of lenses. Ask the seller who its registered optician is, and then check the name against the General Optical Council's register. If it's an overseas seller, eg, Jersey or Guernsey, it doesn't legally have to comply.
7.Your consumer rights

The Distance Selling Regulations mean buy something online and you have a legal right to return the item within seven days for a full refund, even if there's no fault.

The only exception to this is if you've ordered personalised goods that have been made to your specification. The jury's out as to whether contact lenses count as personalised goods, but Trading Standards says: "as they are not specifically made to the customer's specification if the ones ordered are one of a number of set prescriptions and are not personalised they should come under these regulations".

It's worth noting these are UK regulations, so buy abroad and this won't apply, though Jersey has similar regulations under the Distance Selling (Jersey) Law.
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8. Extra buying protection

There's very little protection if a company goes bust and these are small companies that need low funds to get going. Usually a law called section 75 means pay for goods with a credit card and should anything go wrong the credit card company is jointly liable. This only works when the item costs over £100 though, and as individual contact lenses are less than this, it's unlikely to work (though possibly worth a try).

An alternative is Visa/Mastercard chargeback. Pay on one of these cards and if something goes wrong you may be able get your money back from your card provider, though this isn't a legal obligation as with Section 75. Either way, it's worth paying this way for purchases, but beware - the protection isn't foolproof. See the Chargeback guide for full info.
9. Beware buying overseas

A number of online lens retailers operate from overseas, for example the Channel Isles or the US. While they can be cheaper, beware of extra charges and diminshed consumer rights.

Import duty. You may need to pay import duty on top of postage and packing costs. Delivery can take time and add to your costs.

Reliability and consumer rights. They're outside the UK's regulatory framework, and you've less comeback if things go wrong. While there's nothing innately less reliable about companies based in other countries, you have less consumer rights and a more distant relationship with them. So if things go wrong it's much more difficult to enforce your rights.

Exchange rates. If buying from the Channel Isles the price of lenses will be in pounds but the price of the lenses from the US will be in dollars, and therefore the amount you pay depends on the exchange rate.

This can have a massive impact on whether it's competitive to buy from overseas or not. If you've any worries about this, you're still getting a great price from going to the discounters, so stick with those. If not, treble-check you get the right prescription and aftercare.

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10.Laser eye surgery for less

It's a big decision to fix your sight permanently, but big savings are possible. Ensure you do your medical research and consider all options.

It's possible to pay for some or all of your Optimax surgery with Tesco points. Better still, as Optimax is part of Tesco's Clubcard Deals scheme, you get it for a third of the price. In other words, a £5 in-store voucher is worth £15 of laser eye surgery.

So you could have a £900 treatment with £300 worth of vouchers. Or if you don't have enough to cover it all, use them to part pay.
11.Bulk buy to save

It's worth remembering that you'll usually get a bigger discount the more lenses you buy. So a 12 month supply will be cheaper than a six month supply. The tool above will show you whether this is the case for your particular lenses.
12. Monthlies are usually cheaper

Monthly lenses are usually cheaper than dailies. However, you can't simply order the monthly version of the lenses with your existing prescription - you'll have to get fitted for the monthly version before you can buy.
13. Boost gains with cashback

It's often possible to grab extra cashback on top. To get it, you need to sign up via specialist cashback websites. These use affiliate links to generate revenue. If they get paid when you sign up, they'll give some or all of it to you.

Always check first that it's an identical product, clear any cookies if you've already clicked through, and remember as the cashback isn't coming from the product provider, it's never 100% guaranteed. If you're new to cashback sites and how they work, read the Cashback Sites guide in full first.
14. Cheaper generic lenses

Lesser known manufacturer, DaySoft, sells daily lenses for around £12 for 30 days compared to other big brands which charge around £30 for the same.

You can't get fitted for or trial these lenses at high street opticians - only independent UK opticians - but it does offer a brand match service. You enter your lenses and it will tell you if it makes a suitable equivalent. It will also refund you if you don't get on with the lenses.
15. Extra discounts on top

Many retailers over discount codes on top. These aren't factored into the tool's results so check separately. You may find that using a code you can undercut the retailer listed at the top of the table. See Contact Lens Codes for a full list.
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