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Which Pharmacies Sell Prescription Contact Lenses?

two cartoon eyes holding contact lens

Like people who wear eyeglasses have a glasses prescription, contact lens wearers can get prescription lenses for vision correction. Contact lenses can correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hypermetropia), astigmatism, and presbyopia (age-related inability to focus on near objects). 

If you wear contact lenses and need a prescription or new contact lenses, here are some pharmacies and online stores that sell prescription contact lenses. 

Is a contact lens prescription the same as an eyeglass prescription?

A contact lens prescription is not the same as your glasses prescription. Contact lenses sit directly over the eyes, while eyeglasses sit approximately 1 cm away. The tests and measurements required for a contact lens prescription are, therefore, different. Even if you wear glasses and have a valid prescription, you will need a new prescription if you decide to wear contact lenses for vision correction.

Can I walk into a store and buy contact lenses?

You can walk into a store and buy contact lenses if you have a current prescription for contact lenses. However, if you don’t have a contact lens prescription or have an expired prescription, you will not be able to buy prescription contacts online or in store until you get a valid prescription. This is true even if you need the same contacts. 

You can, however, buy non-prescription contact lenses over the counter. These include colored contact lenses (to change eye color) and other non-prescription lenses worn for cosmetic purposes.

Can you get prescription contacts over the counter?

Prescription contacts are considered medical devices and must be doctor prescribed in the US by law. If you wear prescription contacts, you will need a valid prescription to buy contacts online or in-store. 

Generally speaking, contact lens prescriptions have an expiration date of 1-2 years. If your prescription is older than this, you will need to visit an eye doctor and have an eye exam to get a new prescription. State laws determine how long a contact lens prescription is valid.

Some websites, especially those based overseas, offer low-cost prescription contact lenses without a valid prescription. However, buying contacts from these websites is not recommended. You may not get the correct prescription or fit, putting yourself at risk of eye damage. Also, it is illegal, and the Federal Trade Commission regularly tracks down and prosecutes such overseas retailers. Always buy your contacts from a legitimate retailer located in the US.

Can you get prescription contacts in one day?

Contact lens manufacturers have many products readily available. You may be able to get your prescription contact lenses immediately as long as they are in stock and you have a valid prescription. 

Buying contacts online usually takes a little longer than buying them at a pharmacy. Many online retailers offer free shipping, but most take at least 5-7 business days to ship the contacts to you after they have verified your prescription. 

If you are buying contact lenses that are non-prescription, such as colored contacts for cosmetic use, you may be able to get same-day shipping. Express shipping is sometimes available for an extra charge. The customer service team can typically tell you about the usual shipping times. 

Does CVS sell contact lenses in-store?

CVS and other major pharmacy chains sell contact lenses in-store. You can also buy contacts online, often with free shipping and free return shipping as well. You can evaluate which website or pharmacy works best for you, but here are some of the best contact lenses retailers:

Target Optical

This is a large retailer that offers single and multi-vision contacts, including daily disposables, weeklies, and monthlies from top brands like Acuvue, Air Optix, and Biofinity. They also offer an appointment with an eye doctor if you need a prescription and can help choose the best contact lenses for your needs.

Walmart Contacts

Walmart offers free shipping on all contact lens orders. They carry every top brand, including Acuvue, Biofinity, Dailies, Bausch & Lomb, and others. Walmart can contact your eye care provider to verify your prescription. You can also fax or email a copy of your prescription to them. However, customers are advised to provide a physical copy of their contact lenses prescription to speed up processing.


This website offers many conveniences for customers, such as next-day delivery, flexible returns, and automated shipments on schedule. They accept in-network insurance and have options for FSA/HSA spending. In addition, 1-800-Contacts offers an Express Exam for $20, which allows you to skip a visit to the eye doctor if you have an expired prescription. The express eye exam takes 10 minutes and can be done from your home. All you need is a computer or smartphone and 10 feet of space. You will get a current prescription issued by an eye doctor licensed in your state and can then purchase your prescription contact lenses immediately.

Discount Contact Lenses

This online contact lens retailer has a wide selection of lenses and offers 20% off to all customers on their first order. You can expect to pay some of the lowest prices for your contacts on this website. They have helpful prescription upload tools and flexible subscription options, so they are a great choice for people wearing contacts on a regular basis. 

AC Lens

With over four dozen brands, competitive pricing, and flexible returns, this retailer is a good choice if you want to replace your stock of contact lenses. You can get 20% off future orders with a contact lens subscription. Delivery is in 5-7 business days, subject to prescription verification. Free shipping is available on orders over $99. They are an out-of-network provider for insurance reimbursement, however.


  1. https://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/faq/cls-vs-glasses-rx.htm
  2. https://www.targetoptical.com/to-us/contact-lenses
  3. https://www.walmartcontacts.com/
  4. https://www.1800contacts.com/exam
  5. https://www.discountcontactlenses.com/
  6. https://www.aclens.com/