Can You Buy Contact Lenses Without A Prescription?

So what happens when one wants to purchase contact lenses, but doesn't have a prescription? Every year, thousands of people ask this question, and many are confused about whether they can or can't buy contacts online without visiting an eye doctor.

Most often, individuals who want lenses without a prescription want to avoid the costs associated with visiting an eye doctor, or they simply don't need a formal prescription since they have 20/20 vision already. While it may seem silly for someone with perfect vision to want contact lenses, it's important to remember that many people want to wear contacts for cosmetic purposes, and don't need any actual vision correction.

United States FDA Laws And Regulations Regarding Contact Lens Sales

Contact lenses are defined by the United States FDA (food and drug administration) as medical devices, and subsequently, they can not be legally purchased within the United States without a prescription written by an eye care professional. Even for contacts that do not correct or alter vision, a prescription is required from an eye doctor.

Why Does The FDA Require a Prescription For Contact Lenses?

While most people do not have problems with wearing contact lenses, not everyone is suited for wearing contacts, and some may not be able to wear specific types of lenses, so it's important to get an eye exam prior to wearing contact lenses. Wearing improper lenses can lead to a wide variety of eye problems, ranging from mild discomfort to eye infections and permanent damage. Having a prescription be a requirement prior to lens purchase ensures healthy lens wearing habits, as eye doctors not only prescribe the right lenses, but can also assist in showing the proper way to care for contacts.

How To Get a Prescription For Contact Lenses

If you're looking to purchase new contact lenses, you need to start off by setting an appointment with an eye care professional. An Opthalmologist or Optometrist will be able to provide a full service eye exam, and can fit you with the right size lens for your eyes. Eye exam costs can vary depending on where the exam is taken, and what the exam covers. Eye exams are covered under most vision insurance plans, and typically will range from $50-$100.

Eye exams rarely take a long time, and most cities have local eye doctors and optical retailers that can provide eye exams. If you're interested in scheduling an eye exam online, visit our partner America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses here to schedule a local exam with an experienced vision professional.

If you're shopping for special effects or costume contact lenses for a special occasion such as Halloween, a theatrical performance, or any other event, it may be a good idea to schedule an eye exam far in advance so that contacts can be purchased prior to said event.

For more questions and answers regarding contact lenses and eye care, visit our convenient FAQ page for answers to all the most common questions we hear on a daily basis.