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Why Are My Contact Lenses So Expensive?

Great question!
We looked into it and realized that the big four manufacturers control the market place by controlling the 'Minimum Sales Price' (MSP) and the distribution networks. They decide who can sell their lenses, and at what price. The upshot is, the industry is dominated by large pharmaceutical companies who are looking to protect their bottom line. 

The result is that the consumer is left paying far more for their contact lenses than they should. That means consumers may be tempted to cut corners to save money - make lenses last longer than they should or wear monthly lenses instead of daily lenses, which have been shown to be better for your eyes.

Private Label (Own Brand) contact lenses like Crystal break this monopoly by buying contact lenses directly from high quality factories in the Far East and pass these savings directly onto you, often saving the consumer  up to 80% of the price that you would pay for Branded Contact Lenses.

What Are Branded contact lenses?

Contact lenses that you would buy from your Optometrist in the UK and Europe are manufactured by only four main manufacturers. You may have already heard of them - Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb, Coopervision and Alcon. They are responsible for such well-known brands as AcuvueFocus, Biofinity, Freshlook and many others. Typically they are manufactured in the West, but some manufacturers now outsource to the Far East.

What are 'Own Brand' contact lenses?

Major Optical groups in the the UK (like Specsavers) often take Branded Contact Lenses from the manufacturers and repackage them with their own brand name and new packaging, often known as Private Label. The reason they do this is to create a branded product that is linked to their company. This tactic makes it more difficult for the consumer to 'shop around' on the internet for lower prices because it is only that retail group that sells that brand.

Another type of 'Own Brand' or Private label has been created by Online Contact Lens companies. They have gone to the Far East and sourced contact lenses from reputable companies in Taiwan or China, and created their own private label. A good example of this is our own Crystal brand or the well-known Hubble Contacts. Often these lenses are much cheaper than the established Brand Lenses - but of equally good or superior quality.

But - How can I swap from a carefully fitted brand from my Optometrist onto a cheaper Private label brand?

This is the thing that Optometrist won't tell you - their little secret.

Almost all contact lenses are the same fitting!

You can check this out for yourself online in 2 minutes. Go to a page like this from Alcon and check out the key fitting numbers for various contact lenses - the Radius and Diameter. These are the 'crucial' fitting numbers that your Optometrist 'carefully' calculates. If you look at them you will see that they are all in this range

  • 8.60/13.80
  • 8.70/14.00
  • 8.50/14.10
  • 8.60/14.50
  • 8.80/14.40
  • etc

Can you see the pattern here? The radius for 99% of soft contact lenses lie in the region of 8.50 - 8.80mm and the diameters lie in the range 13.80 - 14.40mm.

There is a good reason for this. The cornea of the human eye does not vary much in size at all, and these fittings are shown to be suitable for 99% of eyes.

More importantly - the differences between these numbers, although they look as if it is crucial that you should have say an 8.60/13.90 instead of say a 8.70/14.00 they are not very important. Most people can swap comfortably between one set of numbers and another, without any problems whatsoever.

So - How does the Optometrist choose which of the brands to give to me and why?

I have been an Optometrist for 30 years and I can tell you exactly how.

We take careful measurements of the eye and then turn to the Branded Lenses supply that we have in stock (usually one we can make a high margin out of, or is just our 'favorite') and prescribe it to you. 

Then we see you again in a week or two, and 'voila', you are generally happy with the contact lenses that we gave you. We could have given you pretty much any other brand, or indeed our own Private Label, and the result would be the same in 99% of customers.

The 'branded lenses stock' is also interesting - these are supplied free by the main contact lens manufacturers to encourage us to use them first. Maybe we have a stock of Johnson & Johnson lenses, in which case you will get a Johnson & Johnson lens to try, maybe an Alcon stock, in which case you will get that. You can often see the stock of lenses in the Optometrists, just there, in a lovely branded case on the side. You will likely get one of those to try. So much for free choice.

There must be more to my contact lens Prescription than that!

There is. There are three other crucial things. The power and the material and to check if you are suitable for contact lenses.

Suitability for Contact Lenses

As part of the fitting process, the Optometrist will work out if you are suitable for contact lenses. not everyone is - you may have dry eyes, or unusually sensitive eyes or may not be able to handle them or have specific allergies that might cause a problem. Always have a first contact lens fitting to make sure you are suitable.

The Power

It is important the Optometrist calculates the correct power of you contact lens so you can see properly. This is why it is important to have a first fitting and regular aftercare checkups every two years or so. The power of the contact lens may NOT be the same power as your glasses.

The Material of the Contact Lens

This is a key issue. Contact lens materials have advanced massively over the last 10 years. Generally, Optometrists prescribe newer generation materials that let a lot of air to your eyes, so that they stay healthy. 

OK - I thought I understood, and now I am confused again. Can I actually safely swap from expensive Branded Contact Lenses to Private Label?

Yes you can and we have made it easy for you. Simply use our 'Switch & Save' Tool. Enter your existing brand of lenses, and we will tell you which Crystal Brand you can Switch to, and how much you can save each year.

We have carefully selected Crystal Contact Lenses to be:

  • an average diameter and radius (as you now know this is not so crucial)
  • a highly advanced material that lets as much air to your eyes as the best known 'Branded' lenses
  • the power you can get from your existing box of lenses. It is right there on the side!

So you can substitute your branded contact lenses with confidence.

For Daily lenses try our Crystal Aqua Daily for only £7.49 for 30 lenses. Compared that to say 1 Day Acuvue Moist which runs at about £18.00 a box!

For Monthly lenses try Crystal Comfort for only £8 for 3 lenses. You can get a whole year's supply for only £64! Compare that to the price of your current monthly lens!

How about if I swap to your Crystal lenses and don't get on with them?

Here is the best part. We have sold literally 100's of thousands of Crystal Lenses to customers that have swapped. Look at the customer reviews here. You are in good company. 

Thousands of customers have swapped from their expensive Branded contact lenses to Crystal contact lenses and are very glad they did so. They each save hundreds of pounds a year.

But, we go further. We Guarantee our lenses. 

If you can't get on with Crystal Contact lenses, for whatever reason, we will credit your account with the cost of the lenses, which you can use against your regular brand. We sell those as well AND at great prices.