Where can I buy contacts without a prescription?
To purchase contact lenses in the UK you will need a recent contact lens prescription and specification from an optician, which will need to be verified by the seller. Some international online sites may allow you to self-certify that you have a valid prescription and you may not need to upload your prescription before ordering.
We advise visiting an optician at least every year to ensure your eyes are healthy, and that your contact lens prescription provides the necessary correction to get the best contact lenses for you. You will also need your prescription to ensure you get the right contact lenses if you're buying from a different supplier.
NEED AN EYE TEST? Find an optician near you and schedule an appointment.
It's against the law to sell contact lenses in beauty salons, convenience stores, pharmacies or other non-optical outlets. Why? You may be getting unregulated lenses from producers that can cause harm to your eyes.
You are entitled to your contact lens prescription
The law in the UK gives you the right to request and receive a copy of your contact lens specification from your optician once they are satisfied the contact lens fit has been completed so you can shop around when buying contacts to get the best deal, based on price, convenience and other factors.
All the same rules and laws apply to so-called "non-prescription" contact lenses — lenses made for Halloween and other colour contact lenses or special-effect contact lenses with no corrective power — as well as standard contact lenses.
Rules for contact lens prescribers
The law says that eye care professionals who are permitted to fit and issue prescriptions for contact lenses must:
Give a copy of the contact lens prescription to the patient at the end of the contact lens fitting — even if the patient doesn't ask for it.
Provide or verify the contact lens prescription to anyone who is designated to act on behalf of the patient, including contact lens sellers.
Correct any inaccuracy in the prescription being verified and inform the seller if the prescription has expired or is otherwise invalid.
Rules for contact lens sellers
The law requires contact lens sellers to:
Provide contact lenses only in accordance with a valid specification that is directly presented to the seller or has been verified by the contact lens prescriber.
If verification is required, sellers must contact the prescribing optician to verify the accuracy of the prescription before filling the order.
Note that when buying contact lenses from international retailers and shipping to the UK, presenting a prescription and verification of your prescription may not be required.
How and where you buy your contact lenses is up to you. Remember, it’s all about finding the contact lenses that best suit you and your lifestyle.
Page published on Monday, 27 July, 2020
Page updated on Thursday, 17 February, 2022