How much do colored contacts cost?
As you might expect, colored contact lenses that enhance or change your eye color cost more than standard soft contact lenses that are clear or have a light blue handling tint.
The cost of colored contact lenses can vary considerably, but a good rule of thumb is to expect to pay roughly twice as much for these lenses than a non-tinted lens.
If you choose to buy contact lenses online, data gathered from a leading online contact lens retailer by AllAboutVision.com in October 2018 revealed a 6-pack of popular colored contacts cost $88.00, while a 6-pack of comparable clear lenses from the same manufacturer cost $42.00 (prices exclude rebates, special promotions and volume discounts).
Why do colored contact lenses cost more?
Colored 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.
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).
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, colored 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.
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Notes and References
Pricing data for colored and clear soft contact lenses (Alcon's Air Optix Colors and Air Optix Aqua) was obtained from Coastal.com on October 17, 2018.
Page updated March 2021