Are Color Contacts More Expensive?
Yes, contact lenses that enhance or change your eye color cost more than regular contacts.
The cost of colored contact lenses varies considerably, but generally, you can expect most disposable color contacts to cost at least 50 percent more than comparable non-tinted disposable contact lenses.
Data gathered by AllAboutVision.com in January 2014 reveal that if you choose to buy contact lenses online, popular disposable color contacts that correct myopia cost approximately $45 to $50 for a box of six lenses. Color lenses that also correct astigmatism cost significantly more ($80 to $85 for a box of six).
Why Are Colored Contacts More Expensive?
Color contacts are more expensive than regular contact lenses for several reasons. First, there are additional research and development costs involved in producing colored lenses. Lens manufacturers have to determine the most popular colors and then develop methods to apply tints to the lenses so they look natural on the eye.
Although color contact lenses cost more than comparable non-tinted contacts, the beautiful eye color change can be worth it. Left: Acuvue 2 Colours in sapphire blue. Right: FreshLook VibrantViews in gemstone green.
The tinting process also increases manufacturing costs. And since far fewer colored lenses are produced and sold compared with untinted lenses, manufacturers don't enjoy the same economies of scale in the production process for colored contact lenses.
A number of other factors can increase the cost of colored contact lenses, including:
Astigmatism. Color contact lenses that correct astigmatism require a more sophisticated lens design to align astigmatic correction properly and keep the lens from rotating on the eye.
It's not unusual for color contacts that correct astigmatism to cost nearly twice as much as color lenses that correct only nearsightedness (or color lenses that have no corrective power and are designed for people with good eyesight who wear color contacts only to change or enhance the color of their eyes).
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Special-effect contact lenses. Also called theatrical contact lenses, costume contacts and gothic contact lenses, these are popular for Halloween and costume parties. These lenses typically are sold separately in individual glass vials and can range in price from $50 to more than $200 per lens.
Custom color contacts. These are hand-painted and individually produced. An example of custom color contacts are prosthetic contact lenses that are designed to mask a scarred or otherwise deformed eye. Custom color contacts frequently cost several hundred dollars per lens.
Remember, color contact lenses even if they have no corrective power and are being purchased solely to change your eye color are medical devices and cannot be purchased legally in the United States without a valid prescription written by a licensed eye doctor.
Prior to being issued a contact lens prescription, you must undergo a contact lens fitting so your eye care professional can make sure the lenses fit you properly and that your eyes can safely tolerate contact lens wear.
About the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 25 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include contact lenses, nutrition and preventive vision care. Connect with Dr. Heiting via Google+.
[Page updated May 4, 2015]