The costs associated with contact lenses can be broken down into three main categories: consultation fees, lens costs and ongoing maintenance costs.
Consultation fees are the fees charged by eye care professionals for their services. For most contact lens wearers consultation fees are not subsidised by Medicare and the optometrist will be able to outline the costs associated with contact lens consultations in their practice.
Medicare pays benefits for consultations relating to prescribing contact lenses, however not all Australians are eligible for these benefits. In order for benefits to be paid, a patient must meet certain criteria, based on their clinical condition and the clinical need for contact lenses. These criteria are intended to ensure that Medicare will pay benefits for people who require contact lenses in order to achieve satisfactory vision, rather than for people who simply want contact lenses for sports or cosmetic reasons. They include patients with myopia or hyperopia greater than +/-5.00 dioptres, astigmatism greater than -3.00 dioptres, or a large difference in the prescription between each eye.
The cost of contact lenses can vary enormously, depending on the type of lenses and how often you intend to wear them. Other factors affecting the price of contact lenses include tinting and other options.
Although disposable lenses are less expensive than conventional lenses, they need to be replaced more often. As a result, the annual cost of wearing contact lenses can be similiar between disposable and non-disposable lenses.
Other than daily disposable contact lenses which are discarded after only one use, all lenses need to be cleaned and disinfected. There are therefore ongoing costs involved in lens wear, as cleaning and disinfection solutions and new cases will need to be purchased.