An estimated 45 million Americans use contact lenses—approximately 14% of the US population.
With so many people buying contacts, the industry has boomed, and now there are over 15 different contact lens brands offering over 50 different contact lens options.
Most brands offer daily, weekly, and monthly contacts, different options for high and low-end contacts, and more choices, all of which makes assessing the best contacts based on needs and price incredibly difficult.
That said, when InsiderEnvy ran a recent contact lens survey of over 5,000 people, a majority said price was their biggest purchasing factor—more important than either quality or convenience. Luckily, you can purchase contacts for a discount here.
For those who want to understand the true cost of different contacts, this guide is for you:
In the graph below we have listed the top 50+ contact lenses on the market, annualizing the price with the assumption that people who use weekly contacts use 2 pairs a month, and people who use hard shell extended wear contacts use 1 pair a month.
In addition, we have included the cost of contact lens solution in this analysis. This chart assumes that you clean your weekly or monthly contacts every night (as you should) and uses cost based on the average annual price for a multipurpose solution. If you use a specific RGP contact solution or a hydrogen peroxide contact solution, your cost may vary.
One of the fastest growing types of contacts is daily contact lenses. Ten years ago, dailies were too expensive to be popular. Today, due to R&D and upstarts, daily contacts have become far more affordable. The chart below looks at the annual prices for different daily contact lenses:
Weekly extended wear contacts are the most commonly purchased contact type and offer the largest number of different contact options. The chart below looks at the annual price of every major weekly contact lens on the market (not including contact lens solution, which adds another ~$140 a year to your costs):
While this contact lens type has declined in popularity over the past few years, there are still a large number of options to choose from and a large number of people who prefer this type of contact:
Astigmatism is a common vision issue affecting roughly 30% of the population. Below is a look a the most popular toric contacts built to support astigmatism, ranked by annualized price:
A lot of people suffer from presbyopia, and multifocal contacts are the most popular means of addressing this vision issue. Below is a list of the most popular multifocal contacts, sorted by annual cost:
In the chart below we look at the annualized cost of the top 25 most popular contact lens solutions, broken out by multipurpose solution (most commonly preferred), hydrogen peroxide solution, or other types of solutions. The mean annual cost of contact lens solution is $140, but using the chart below you might find that you can save a lot of money depending on what contact solution brand you decide to go with.
Contact lenses are not cheap. When compared to glasses, which cost an average of $196 per pair (although can go far higher depending on style and prescription type), almost any brand of contact you buy is more expensive. That said, costs are declining, and the benefits of wearing contacts (comfort, style and more) are significant. We hope that the analysis here helps you make an informed decision on what contact lens to wear. Ultimately, contacts are a bit like finding the right shoes, everything fits slightly differently, so you need to pick a contact lens that works for you. That said, if you have an average eye, and most brands feel comfortable, it might be worth trying a less expensive contact to see if you can get the same comfort for a better price.
Lastly, if you want to see the above data in an interactive chart, you can check out our 2018 Ultimate Contact Lens Price interactive chart here.
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