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.
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.
When buying lenses online, it's vital to get regular aftercare, see the General Optical Council factsheet for more info. Unlike those who buy lenses from their contact lens 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".
The British Contact Lens Association website has important info on How to minimise infection risk with contact lenses. It says though contact lens-related infections of the cornea are rare, regular aftercare, good hygiene and not wearing lenses overnight are all important factors. So do read this to help ensure you're taking care of your eyes correctly.
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).
|Boots Premium Dailies||Cibavision||Focus Dailies All Day Comfort|
|Boots Premium Monthly||Cibavision||Air Optix|
|Boots Near & Far||Cibavision||Focus Progressives|
|Boots Night & Day||Cibavision||Air Optix Night & Day|
|Conlons Mirage Monthly Disposables||Coopervision||Biomedics 55 Evolution|
|Conlons Mirage Dailies||Cibavision||Focus Dailies|
Dolland & Aitchison
|D&A One Day Contact Lenses||Bausch & Lomb||Soflens Daily Disposable|
|D&A Mid Water 55 Contact Lenses||Coopervision||Biomedics 55 Evolution|
|D&A Freshview 58 UV||Coopervision||Frequency 55|
|D&A Freshview 73 UV||Coopervision||ActiFresh 400|
|Eye Clinic Daily Vision||Cibavision||Focus Dailies|
|Eye Clinic CIEL XII UV||Coopervision||Biomedics 55 Evolution|
|Eye Clinic CIEL XII UV Toric||Coopervision||Biomedics Toric|
|easyvision Daily Terial (Diameter 13.8)||Ciba Vision||Focus Dailies Basic|
|easyvision Daily Opsys (Diameter 13.8)||Ciba Vision||Focus Dailies All Day Comfort|
|easyvision Daily Vitrea||Ciba Vision||Focus Dailies Aquacomfort Plus|
|easyvision Daily Vusion One Day||Coopervision||Proclear One Day|
|easyvision Daily Clearus (Diameter 14.2)||Bausch & Lomb||Soflens Daily Disposable|
|easyvision Monthly Classic||Coopervision||Frequency 55|
|easyvision Monthly Vusion||Coopervision||Proclear Compatibles|
|easyvision Monthly Classic Aspheric||Coopervision||Frequency 55 Aspheric|
|easyvision Monthly Irisian||Ciba Vision||Air Optix Aqua|
|easyvision Monthly Opteyes||Coopervision||Biofinity|
|easyvision Daily Clarison Toric||Coopervision||Biomedics 1 Day Toric|
|easyvision Monthly Irisian Toric||Ciba Vision||Air Optix for Astigmatism|
|easyvision Standard Monthly Toric||Coopervision||Frequency Xcel Toric|
|easyvision Standard Monthly Toric XR||Coopervision||Frequency Xcel Toric XR|
|easyvision Monthly Opteyes Toric||Coopervision||Biofinity Toric|
|easyvision Monthly Aquaeyes||Ciba Vision||Air Optix Night and Day|
|easyvision Multifocal Vusion Multifocal||Coopervision||Proclear Multifocal|
|easyvision Monthly Irisian Multifocal||Coopervision||Air Optix Aqua Multifocal|
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.
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.
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, 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. We've also included whether each retailer is registered with the General Optical Council, to help you decide.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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