Learn The Ins And Outs Of Your Most Common Eyecare Options
It’s an age-old battle: glasses vs contacts. Most opticians and optometrists are asked which are better and the answer is never the same. More often than not, the course of action is determined by personal preference or cost.
To help guide you toward the best decision for you, here’s a rundown of each option and what to expect in terms of cost and maintenance.
Eyeglasses have always come with a stigma, whether it’s being a dork, smarty pants, or shy. You name it. Thankfully, those connotations are outdated. In fact, being a nerd or intelligent is cool nowadays–no matter what that bully said. Today, purchasing a pair of glasses is considered a fashion statement. Even if a prescription isn’t needed, you’ll see both celebrities and common folk wearing plano lenses (what optical people call non-prescription lenses).
The egalitarian quality of glasses is one of its primary advantages, as anyone at any age can wear them for a variety of reasons.
Buying Process and Options
In terms of cost, there are several prime factors: lens type, frame, and special features.
Based on the strength of your vision correction, your optometrist and optician will recommend options for your needs, beginning with single vision or multifocals, the latter of which are more expensive. For materials, polycarbonate lenses–a lightweight and scratch-resistant plastic material–are a common starting point, especially for children. But there are also thinner types like Hi-Index and Trivex that are for stronger prescriptions. Next, choose from a variety of lens treatments such as non-glare, photochromic (i.e., Transitions), polarization, and more.
From here, there are frames that can range from six dollars to designer prices. Finding the right frame is the most difficult stage for most buyers. Check out this video on picking a frame based on your face shape. Oh, and there’s also some make-up tips, if you need them.
Sound like a lot? Well, if we’re honest, it can be confusing or overwhelming; that’s why a great optical team is so important to guide you through the process. But unlike contacts, they can be tailored to your lifestyle needs.
How Much Do Glasses Cost
Depending on what options you pick, you can expect to pay between $150-$800 on average. Yes, that sounds like a lot. But most wearers don’t purchase new frames every year (partly due to insurance restrictions), and unless maintenance problems arise, there is little to no cost after the initial purchase.
Disadvantages To Wearing Glasses
If you consider glasses as a medical device or accessory, wearing glasses does come with some drawbacks. For one, they can fall off, break, scratch, get lost, or any other method of destruction you can imagine (pets are a particular, not-so-cute reason). The added cost of replacing them can prove costly as well.
There are other minor annoyances, like having to switch between pairs if you wear sunglasses, lenses fogging in humid weather, or periodic repairs and adjustments, but these typically are easier to manage.
If you’re looking to make a statement, love fashion, hate the idea of having something on your eye, don’t have crazy strong prescriptions, or don’t mind having multiple pairs, then glasses might be your ticket.
Imagine seeing 20/20 as if you never had vision problems at all with no frame hindering your view or resting on your nose all day. That’s what wearing contacts is like.
Many choose contacts because they prefer not having something in front of their face or for lifestyle reasons. Those with active lifestyles or participate in sports will go this route, as it offers complete vision without the eye hardware, making it easy to fit in a helmet or hustle around the field.
One nice benefit comes in the form of sunglasses, which no longer require a prescription. Simply buy a pair, wear, and enjoy. We recommend polarized lenses for maximum sun protection and vision quality.
Buying Process and Options
Unlike glasses, contacts are purchased in bulk, usually at a 6-month or annual amount. The actual quantity depends on the type your optometrist recommends: daily, weekly, or monthly soft contacts are the most common. There are other types, such as gas permeable lenses that are more rigid, but these are far less popular.
The process begins with a lens fitting, during which the right size and contact brand are determined, as well as learning to use and care for your contacts. Keep in mind this is in addition to the regular eye exam and incurs an additional cost. Most insurances will cover this procedure with a copay. Although there are many variations, here’s what it takes to use and clean your contact lenses.
After the fitting and learning curve, most contact wearers are in the clear unless they have problems down the road.
How Much Do Contacts Cost
Upfront costs might surprise some, but on average contact users spend a “total annual cost of roughly $370 to $460 to wear contact lenses,” which includes buying cleaning solution and other supplies. Actual costs may vary depending on insurance and other special circumstances like replacing lost contacts.
If you factor in that most contact lens wearers own a backup pair of glasses (in the case of loss, eye infection, or general eye fatigue), the cost will go higher.
Disadvantages To Wearing Contacts
In general, contacts can irritate or aggravate dry eye conditions. Although rare, complications can occur when a lens become loose or get stuck in the eyelid. These mishaps can happen at random or when you fall asleep while they’re still in your eyes. In addition, allergy sufferers may have trouble during their respective allergy seasons, as contacts can trap allergens that may further irritate your eyes.
As mentioned earlier, it’s always prudent to have a backup pair of glasses in the event of medical surprises, so it’s possible you won’t entirely escape traditional eyewear.
Also, when it comes to costs, you could be spending upwards of $500 out-of-pocket each year (again, insurance coverage variables can make this number go higher or lower.) Since most glasses wearers only purchase every other year, paying for contacts will more than likely cost more over time.