(Money Noob is a series of posts targeted at those of you who recently graduated from college and have little to no clue how to properly take care of your money. Yes, I’m looking at you. Don’t be shy)
If you have perfect 20/20 vision, stop reading now. If you had to squint to read that sentence, welcome to the club. In this post I will tell you how to save the maximum amount of money when buying contacts and glasses, laws be damned.
Step 1. Eye Exam – Note that most doctors charge you one fee for glasses but additional fees for contact lens exam. Traditionally, you can’t really save much money here besides shopping around, but there’s a startup that allows you to take an eye exam at home using your computer and your phone. It’s called Opternative and it’s $40 for either glasses or contacts exam, and $60 for both. At the end of the process the doctor writes you a legit prescription. I’ve never used it so I don’t know how well it works, but if you try it let me know.
Step 2. Glasses – The cheapest place to buy glasses is from dirt cheap websites based in China such as ZenniOptical. Frames cost from $6.95 and up (you read that right) and standard lenses are free, but if you are close to being Legally Blind like yours truly, you can shell out $35 for the 1.67 index lens. Sounds too good to be true? Well there’s one catch, which is the shipping time as it could take a month for your glasses to get here. One important thing to note is that you must get the Pupillary Distance from the eye doctor when you do your exam, so that when you order glasses from Zenni, they can put the center of the lenses where your epupils are supposed to be. If you screw that up, prepare to look cross-eyed.
Step 3. Contact Lenses – If you are like me, you probably wear Acuvue. For those of you not in the loop, Acuvue started price fixing in the Summer of 2014. Since then, every single retailer, online or off, must adhere to the Minimum prices set by Acuvue, so no more sales on their contact lenses, “to ensure a better relationship between the patient and their optometrist”. While it’s great for their business, it’s terrible for bargain huntas like us. So right now, a 24 lens box of Acuvue Oasys Bi-Weekly lens costs $114.50 per box at lens.com and visiondirect.com, and potentially much more at your local optometrist. Since you require 24 lenses per eye per year, an annual supply will cost you $229.
In comparison, if you jump the border and buy it from a Canadian website, you are looking at $19.30 for a box of 6, so an annual supply of 48 lenses is 8 boxes, which costs a cool $154.40. If you use the coupon code BLUE, you can further drop the price down down to $138.95:
Congrats, you just saved at least $90 on your annual supply of contact lenses. #blindgainhunta