Saving Money on Contact Lenses and Glasses

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I'm almost half blind, so I have to wear glasses and contact lenses constantly. I wear my contacts for at least 12 hours a day (eek my optometrist doesn't like to hear that, of course) and so I go through them pretty quick.

Unless you have extended health (thanks! Extended Health!) the price of glasses can be pretty darn steep. The pair that I got a few years ago would have cost me around $500 had it not been for the extended health benefits, knocking it down a few hundred dollars.

The secret (well, not such a big secret, really) is to buy your glasses and contacts online. Because there is no middle man (no high traffic- rent to pay, and no wages to pay salespeople) glasses and contact lenses bought online a much cheaper than if you buy them in person- sometimes even FREE.

Clearly Contacts (which claims to be Canada's largest optical store) had a giveaway one year in Vancouver (they alternate this big event in different parts of the country) where they were giving out FREE glasses if you ordered them online. I think I just had to pay shipping, which was under $10. I got a nice pair of white Gucci glasses (yes, it's real!) for $10. Now I take this pair traveling with me because I don't have to worry about sitting on it, scratching it up, or losing it.

Other times when Clearly Contact's glasses AREN'T free, they're $38. At that price, you can get a different pair for different moods that you're in.

There are lots of other online retailers that are reliable and cheap:

  • Coastal Contacts– The American sibling of Clearly Contacts
  • Zenni Optical– Complete eye glasses starting at $8 (that is cheaper than a meal, seriously!)- no frills, they make their own glasses, so you won't find your Gucci glasses here though)
  • 39 Dollar Glasses– Yup, $39 for a pair of glasses
  • Goggles 4 U – Another cheap retailer

I personally have used Clearly Contacts and really like them.  I buy my contact lenses from them now and I save about 30% from my regular Optical's price.  Sometimes there are promo codes that you can use too (like the Entertainment Book promo code for an additional 15% off).  Also they have free shipping if you buy over a certain amount.

All you need to know is your prescription.  What I did was I bought from my regular walk-in optical store(a smaller amount) and then used the box numbers to order my next prescription online.

For glasses, you would  need to have a ruler to measure the distance between your pupils (this is kind of hard to do buy yourself, I find).

The downside is that there isn't a real person to help you fit your glasses on (they usually have these cool handy dandy pliers that they use to tweak the nose piece).  But I guess you get what you pay for, right?

I don't see a downside with buying contact lenses online, really.  Except that you really need to know the measurements on the box.

Have you tried buying your glasses and contact lenses online?  What do you think of it? Did you find you saved some money?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.


  1. Jenn @ Paying Myself on May 3, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I have bought glasses twice from Googles 4 U. The first time they were perfect, the second time they required a minor tweak to fit properly, which I was able to do myself. I got my optometrist to measure my PD (pupillary distance) to make sure it was right. My prescription is around -5.00 in both eyes and I am able to go with the middle of the road thickness of lenses on Googles 4 U with no problems. Both pairs cost me less than $50 a piece. Shipping isn’t always the fastest, but who can complain when the glasses are that cheap?

    For contacts I order from Clearly Contacts as well and haven’t had any problems except with Fed Ex (which is unrelated to Clearly Contacts).
    .-= Jenn @ Paying Myself

  2. Cheapskate Sandy on May 3, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Thank you!!!! I could use a new pair and was about to spend $100. You are saving me some serious $$.
    .-= Cheapskate Sandy

  3. young on May 3, 2010 at 9:24 am

    @jenn thanks for sharing! Yeah I think iys best to Jane the pupillary diameter properly measured or else you might get wonky feeling glasses. Yhe ones I got from clearly contacts are great, buy the diameter is probably a bit off.

    @sandy thanks! Glad to know were all saving some cashola!

  4. eemusings on May 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Score! I might have to do a post on equivalent local sites. Totally agree with buying online. I was lucky in that I found a great pair of frames in a store, that another store (online only) sold. No second guessing or anything; I tried them on several times first. Bonus: I discovered a scheme at work that helps pay for your specs!

    I haven’t worn contacts in forever – started drying my eyes out. But I used to wear them constantly, and buying them online literally halved the cost. I’m actually due for an eye test and hope to go back to contacts soon.

  5. Simple in France on May 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I wonder if this is possible in France. . .my fickin contacts cost me 27 euros a month! Um. . .I’m really cheap/forgetful/unhealthy(?) and I usually use a month’s worth for much longer, but still!

    At this rate, I’m honestly thinking of having my eyes lazered! sigh.

  6. Investing Newbie on May 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Hmm, I guess I need to see if they have anything comparable in the States. Last year, I spent $100 for glasses (that was after my Vision Insurance kicked in.) I think I’ll still hold on to my Vision Insurance though because they cover $100 of Contact Lenses costs. Because both of my eyes are the same perscription, my yearly contact costs are about $90.
    .-= Investing Newbie

  7. Robert on August 20, 2010 at 7:27 am

    I shopped around a bit too online before I purchased. I decided on and my lenses arrived by fedex to my office and saved a bunch. Just thought I would pass this info on. And I used the new customer welcome coupon they have WBNEW and got free shipping and another $10 off, lol. So pretty happy, can you tell? haha

  8. William Cunningham on November 3, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your article; but would also like to share a link of similar website for prescription eyeglasses with easy to navigate and user friendly GUI, for more information follow link:…eyeglasses

  9. Marilyn on February 13, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I have been ordering my contacts from Clearly Contacts for the last few years. I am 100% satisfied with them.

  10. Angela Chu on November 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I ordered eyeglasses from ClearlyContacts, i don’t think their price is beatable. However, i ordered contact lens from, a bit better price and more colour contacts selection. Just my 2 cents

  11. young on November 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    @Angela Chu- Cool, thanks for the tip!

  12. Joy on September 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Sorry if this is a little random but would anyone know where i could buy online heart shaped specs, like the pair the model is wearing? Have been dying to get a pair 🙂

  13. Gul on November 27, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Clearly looks like a good deal at first. I have had problems with lens quality. The coatings wore out. An optometrist confirmed this for me. So for disposable glasses Clearly is fine. Not if you want to wear them for a few years.

  14. Stephanie on July 8, 2017 at 1:53 am

    seniors can save good money by buying glasses online
    Buying from online eyewear stores like, where you can get glasses from 12$ only.

    Yes saving saving

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