Disclaimer: When I took the 1 800 Contacts Express Exam, it was offered for free. As of February 2023, the exam costs $20.
If you wear contact lenses, you know how expensive and inconvenient a yearly eye exam can be. But what if you could take it at home for only $20?
I took an online eye exam at 1 800 Contacts as well as a comprehensive eye exam at an ophthalmologist’s office to see if I would get the same results.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the process of taking a cheap eye exam online at 1 800 Contacts and tell you how it went.
What I Learned When I Took an Online Eye Exam
When I took the 1 800 Contacts Express Exam, it was offered for free. Now, the price has gone up to $20. Of course, most prescription renewal exams for contacts cost over $100, so this is still a great way to save! Plus, I ended up getting the same results as I did at the eye doctor’s office.
It took only about 15 minutes to complete the online eye exam, there was no appointment necessary, and I got my results within two hours.
However, there were a few things I wish I had known before getting started, including how to check my eligibility and what I’d need for the exam.
Who Qualifies for an Online Eye Exam?
Before you sign up for an online eye exam at 1 800 Contacts, check your eligibility. At this time, 1 800 Contacts is available only in select states and only for people of certain ages.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 55 and live in a state that’s listed as “Eligible” below, you should be able to take the 1 800 Contacts Express Exam (list current as of February 2023).
Not Eligible Eligible
What You’ll Need To Take the Online Eye Exam
Before taking the exam, there are a few things you’ll need to have nearby:
- A computer or smartphone with a camera and microphone accessibility
- A driver’s license or credit card
- A measuring tape
- At least 10 feet of space
The 1 800 Contacts Express Exam will take pictures of your eyes and record your verbal responses for the vision test. In order to check the size of your screen, you’ll be asked to hold a standard-size driver’s license or credit card up to your computer or smartphone. For the vision test itself, you’ll need to stand 10 feet away from your device.
Taking an Online Eye Exam at 1 800 Contacts
Once I’d checked my eligibility and gathered everything I needed for the online eye exam, I was ready to begin.
Below, you’ll find the steps I followed to get my contacts prescription renewed online at home using the 1 800 Contacts Express Exam on my laptop. Now, you also have the option to take the express exam on your smartphone. Either way, simply follow the on-screen prompts to complete the process.
1. Get Started
To get started, visit this link and select “Let’s do this.”
2. Verify Eligibility
Enter your age, the state you live in and whether or not you’ve been fitted for contact lenses before. You’ll also have to check a box indicating that you understand the Express Exam isn’t a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam.
3. Log In or Create an Account
Next, you’ll enter some basic information about yourself including your name and email address. You can either log in to an existing account or create a new one for free to continue with the exam. Once you’ve entered all of your information, you’ll see whether or not you qualify for the exam.
4. Take Pictures of Your Eyes
The website will remind you that you’ll need to be wearing your contacts, be in a well-lit, quiet area and have 10 feet of space for the Express Exam. You’ll also need to use a device with a camera and microphone for this process.
The exam will start by taking pictures of your eyes so that the doctor can check for redness, irritation or other visible issues. Make sure that you have the volume turned on so that you can follow the audio instructions.
Once the pictures are taken, you can confirm that they look right or take them again if you don’t think they do.
5. Adjust Your Screen Size
Next, you’ll have to adjust the size of your screen to match the visual prompt, using a credit card or driver’s license. I held the card up to my computer screen and adjusted the size of the image with the zoom tool.
6. Stand 10 Feet Away
Once the size of the image matches your card, you’ll need to stand 10 feet away from your computer. I used a measuring tape to mark where my computer should be and where I should stand.
7. Read The On-Screen Letters
The exam will require access to both your camera and microphone. You’ll have 15 seconds to return to your marked spot. Make sure your volume is still turned on so that you can hear the audio instructions.
You’ll see letters on the screen and will be prompted to cover one eye at a time and read the letters loudly and clearly.
Once the exam is complete, you’ll need to provide a little more information about your eye health, including the date of your last exam and whether you’ve had any major complications since then.
8. Choose Your Contacts Brand
After that, you’ll enter the brand of contacts you currently wear.
Once you select your contacts brand, you’ll need to enter your latest prescription. I easily found all of the required information on the last printout from my optometrist.
9. Wait for Your Results
From there, you’ll have to wait for a doctor to review your results. I received my results within two hours of completing the exam, but the site notes that it could take up to 48 hours. The results I got from the online eye exam were the same as they were from the eye doctor.
Once I received my prescription, I was able to order new contacts right away. Thankfully, I waited.
Four days after completing my online eye exam, I received an email from 1 800 Contacts asking me to take a follow-up survey on the exam. Once I completed the survey, I received a $5 credit in my 1 800 Contacts account to go toward my order!
How Does an Online Eye Exam Compare to a Traditional Eye Exam?
An online eye exam is not the same as a traditional visit to an eye doctor. Instead of a comprehensive examination, you’ll receive a brief vision test that checks the accuracy of your current prescription.
When I visited my local optometrist, he said that online screenings work best for people who have a simple prescription.
“I think that online screen exams are not a bad thing, but you cannot make treatment decisions based on them. You have to see what’s going on with the patient,” said Dr. David Blandford of the Kentucky Eye Institute.
That means a regular visit to your optometrist is still very necessary for your eye health.
After having an in-person eye exam and taking the online eye exam at 1 800 Contacts, I noticed these major differences:
1. Price and Convenience
The online eye exam is only $20, which is a lot less than I paid the optometrist. It was also very convenient to be able to take an eye exam at home. I didn’t have to schedule anything ahead of time and it only took about 15 minutes, compared to the hours I was waiting at the doctor’s office.
My in-person eye exam was much more comprehensive than the cheap online eye exam. The doctor was able to check my overall eye health and assess my prescription using medical instruments and experience.
As with any online experience, communication was very limited during my online eye exam. I was able to ask or answer questions with the company’s live chat feature or by calling customer service. But neither of those methods put me in contact with an eye doctor.
Taking an in-person eye exam guarantees at least some time with an optometrist to ask questions and provide more relevant information.
Overall, the cheap online eye exam was much more convenient (and affordable!) compared to a traditional eye doctor visit. But I felt a great deal more confident about my prescription and eye health after my in-person exam.
Like the disclaimer says at the beginning of the 1 800 Contacts Express Exam, getting your eyes checked online is not a replacement for a comprehensive in-person visit.
If your annual eye exam is coming up and you need new contacts now, this free test is a great way to renew your prescription. Still, it’s important to visit an eye doctor regularly to keep tabs on your ocular health.