Contacts or glasses?

I went and got my eyes checked yesterday, with the intent of getting new glasses or considering contacts. I have had my glasses for 6 years now and the lenses are pretty scratched up. And I would like to update, or to not wear glasses at all. I have a pair of smart looking glasses picked out, but I also talked to the optometrist about getting contacts for the first time. I have a stigmatism in one eye, so this is apparently a little tricky but possible.

But of course it is going to come down to cost. Doesn't it always? $300 is reimbursable from insurance, and the breakdown is as follows:

  • Glasses will cost about $550. This includes transition lenses, which I am keen on since I haven't had sunglasses for 6 years.
  • Contacts, according to Iris, will cost $440 A YEAR because they suggest I use disposable lenses.

Hands down glasses wins in the cost department, especially if I have them another 5-6 years. But I would like the freedom of contacts.

After talking to my mom though I am wondering about the cost quoted for contacts. She has permanent contacts, not disposable, and these cost her $85, and last for years. The optometrist brushed off non-disposable lenses as being too much trouble because you have to clean them well. Mom said this is true it can be more work, but she doesn't find it excessively problematic and her contacts don't bother her.

Now I am wondering if really it is a bit of a scam in the optometry world (I am rather cynical I know). Disposable lenses bring in so much more money than non-disposable, why wouldn't they push these?

I am still undecided, I think I may go price contacts at Costco and see what they say.


  1. FourPillars said...
    I would go with the disposable contacts. I used to wear the long life contacts "for years" but one time I got an eye infection and my eye doc said that you aren't supposed to wear the long life contacts for more than a year.

    Esme said...
    I use disposables as well and like them a lot better.

    Sometimes to I wonder about the motivation behind my optometrist's recommendations. Especially since she recently started charging just for contact recommendations. Anyway, try for good prices on contacts. I always order enough so I get free shipping as well.
    LAVA said...
    Try an online store for the glasses. I used optics4less and got my glasses for $75 when they would have cost me $400 from the doctor's office.

    You have to get your prescription and email it to them...and wait about three weeks to get the glasses but mine have been great. I saved money and they are just as good as what I would have gotten from the eye doctor.
    Wooly Woman said...
    I am definitely going to try some of these online sites, thanks for the ideas!
    nancy (aka money coach) said...
    i use a mix of glasses and disposable contacts - have done, for almost 30 years now! And the disposables - I always have worn them wwaaayyy longer than the time allotted, with no problems, ever. I'm not convinced there's even much, if any, difference between them.

    Have you thought at all (I am) about laser surgery? A big one-time expenses, but then, it's done?
    Fecundity said...
    I wear my glasses most of the time, but I also occasionally wear disposible contacts. You can buy them by the box, and only use them when you want rather than all the time if you have a set of glasses too. They tend to have about two years before they expire, so when you wear them is up to you.

    I had long-term contacts for a long time, but after a very unpleasant eye infection that damaged my cornea and made me unable to wear contacts for two years, I'm sticking with the disposibles. Your mom really should change hers more often. And don't forget to add the cost of the cleansing agents to the price of them if you do choose to go that way. That adds up too, especially if you do it properly, as you'll certainly want to.

    Best of luck, whatever you decide.
    M3 said...
    We've used contacts for years and all the posters who advised that you get more than the two-weeks out of your disposables are correct. You'll find that some pairs seem to last forever and some barely last the two weeks, but it all depends on how they feel in your eyes. Net-net, though, you'll definitely use far fewer than the optometrist estimate.
    Annie said...
    The key issue here is the astigmatism. I have it in both years, and have experience of permanent lenses, disposable lenses and glasses.

    You *absolutely* have to have a good pair of glasses to swap out of occasionally, when your eyes feel tired.

    The thing with astigmatism is that it makes your eye an uneven shape and the contact can't move around as it normally would. This lack of movement leads to a certain amount of oxygen deprivation to the surface of your eye, the longer you wear them, the worse the deprivation. It is made a little better by disposable or "soft" contacts, but will still happen. When your lenses feel "gritty" or your eyes feel like you've have a visit from the sandman, you are doing a tiny amount of damage. Over the course of years, this can lead to the blood vessels in your eyes growing into your iris, restricting it's ability to dilate and damaging your ability to both cope with differing light levels and focus quickly.

    This has happened to both of my childrens' Godparents (unrelated), and worried them a LOT.

    If you really do want the freedom of contacts, wear them occasionally, and swap with good glasses!
    Annie said...
    Err... That would be "both eyes" - it's 7.45am here and I'm not very with it yet... Apologies for bad typing and hope you can get some sense out of it!

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