Tag Archives: contact lenses

Order Contacts Without a Prescription

The Problem

Have you ever tried to order contacts without a prescription?  If you have, you already share my frustration.  If you haven’t, try it sometime.  You’ll run into a brick wall at every website or retail store you try to order from.  Most contact lens prescriptions expire after 1 year, and if you’re a day over that expiration, no one will sell to you.

contacts angry

This is by design, of course.  A huge portion of the population needs corrective vision care.  Vision care is one of those para-medical industries that is prone to monopoly and extortive business practices.  I’m not saying that every optometrist or ophthalmologist is a crook.  However, the system is set up so that the industry has all the power, and it’s at the expense of consumer choice.  Towing the party line, 1-800-CONACTS sums it up nicely in this FAQ answer.

Why would you want to order contacts without a prescription?  I can think of many reasons but I’ll tell you about my own situation.  A week before my trip to Europe in 2014, I realized I was on my last pair of disposable contacts.  I knew I was due for an eye exam, but it was a busy week and I didn’t have the time to see the eye doctor.  I don’t like starting a vacation with no back-ups, so I tried to order one box from Walmart to hold me over until I could make an appointment when I got back.

It turns out my prescription had expired a week before.  No dice at Walmart.  I called my optometrist and he refused to send over a prescription without seeing me first.  Let me guess . . . insurance won’t let him?  VERY FRUSTRATING!  But there’s hope.  Read on . . .

The Solution

Do you know what contacts work for you?  Is your current prescription still working great?  Do you want to buy those contacts without a prescription?  Do you want to float right over the top of the vision-industrial complex with their illogical rules and their profiteering?  Here’s how you can do it:

When I was first stonewalled, I searched the internet far and wide for an online retailer that would sell me contacts without a prescription.  Many stores didn’t mention the prescription requirement until I tried to check out.  Some even employed deceptive marketing (a shock, right?) to give the impression you didn’t need a prescription.  All my efforts ended in a brick wall, except one.
VisionDirect.co.uk is a British company that sells glasses and contact lenses online.  They ship to the U.S. and when you’re ordering there is an option to “verify” your prescription.  This allows you to write in your current prescription without showing proof that it’s up to date.  Orders to the U.S. will be processed through their sister company in the Netherlands, and shipped from the U.K.  (Here is their FAQ page explaining their policy on prescriptions)

My orders usually arrive in about a week, which is impressive from the U.K.

Contacts without a prescription

The order was fast, accurate, and even came with a bonus pack of candy!

Use code 3731198M to get a 10% discount when you place your first order!
(Full disclosure: I get a £5 credit when you use this code)

The cost is usually a little more than buying from a U.S. based online retailer, but in some cases it’s actually cheaper.  Keep in mind the prices are listed in GBP (British pounds).  Your credit card company will use something close to the spot exchange rate, found here.  Some credit cards charge fees around 3% for changing the currency.  If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on ValueTactics, you know there are many cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that do not charge this foreign transaction fee.

The Value

I find it deeply satisfying to circumvent systems that stifle consumer choice.  For me, this is all the value I need to order through VisionDirect.co.uk.  But there is monetary value as well.  You avoid the cost of the eye exam, the costs to get to the office, and the time off work to get the appointment.

In my case, my co-pay at the optometrist and the fuel cost to get there are much higher than the little bit extra I pay for my contacts when I buy them through VisionDirect.co.uk.

Obviously if you are having vision problems or other issues with your eyes, you should go see your eye doctor before ordering new contacts.  But if you are simply past your prescription expiration and want to order more of the same contacts, this is the tactic for you!

Use code 3731198M to get a 10% discount when you place your first order!
(Full disclosure: I get a £5 credit when you use this code)