In the vast majority of countries in the developed world opticians are legally obligated to hand over a contact lens prescription to their patients even if they decide not to buy the lenses from them. This means that once you've got your eyes examined and contacts prescribed you can in fact choose to purchase cheaper lenses online. However, before you do it is important to weigh in the pros and cons of buying a cheap lens online.
Benefit of purchasing from your optician
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of purchasing lenses from your optician is that you'll be entitled to free aftercare which is part of the package. But if you turn around and buy your lenses online you'll have to pay for aftercare. So, the savings need to be make sense. Usually aftercare checkups cost between $20 and $50 depending on where you live. Once you factor in this cost of aftercare and you still see that the lenses being offered are cheaper (in most cases they are) then opt to purchase online.
If you're buying lenses online you need to get them from a legitimate online seller. Usually, you have the right to return the lenses within seven working days which starts from the day they arrive. You are entitled to do this even if there is nothing wrong with the lens. But they are exceptions to this rule especially if the lenses have been personalized to your specific issue which happens to be rare.
A lens that is tailored to a general set of prescriptions can be returned. But only if the seller is reputed and is willing to refund you. If they reside in another country litigating against them can be near impossible.
Buying from sellers located overseas
A number of sellers will operate from a cheaper location in order to be able to offer a much cheaper deal. However, even though the contact lenses you get are in fact much cheaper than any other online seller based locally you will be sacrificing a few things in exchange which include:
- You will need to pay extra import duty and delivery normally takes over a week.
- The lens you receive may not necessarily be reliable, durable or what you expect.
- You will actively forfeit your rights as a consumer in your country. Which means no refunds even if the lenses are damaged.
Which sellers to trust?
According to the law in most countries only optical professionals can be a part of the selling process. So, before you do business with an online store selling lenses make sure to ask for details regarding their registered optician. Then check his or her name against the local medical association's database. Many reputed sellers will have a link to the database on their website as well as details about the opticians working for them. You'll also be able to contact these professionals and speak to them over the phone. If you're not able to do all this then you're better off paying a little extra to buy from your local optician.