Yes, in the UK you need a prescription to purchase contact lenses. After you’ve had a contact lens fitting with your optician, you are legally entitled to a copy of your contact lens prescription.
Everyone’s eyes are different, therefore it is important to buy contact lenses as per your prescription to ensure the lenses will fit properly and won’t harm the health of your eyes.
We don’t ask for a copy of your contact lens prescription upon ordering, but we hold the right to ask for a copy of this at any point.
Why is a contact lens prescription different from a glasses prescription?
Glasses and contact lens prescriptions differ because glasses sit a few millimetres in front of your eyes, resting on the bridge of your nose, whereas contact lenses sit directly on the front surface of your eyes. This difference can affect the power for each prescription.
Your contact lens prescription includes specific measurements to ensure that the lenses are fitted properly and sit comfortably on your eyes while providing sharp and clear vision.
The contact lens prescription includes information about the following:
Lens name - The name of the lens type your optician has fitted you for, e.g.: Acuvue Oasys 1 Day for Astigmatism.
Base curve - A number between 8.5 and 9.0 that refers to the curvature of the lens.
Diameter - The length of the lens across the sphere, referring to the size of the lens.
Power/Sphere - The value used to correct your short or long-sightedness. A minus (-) indicates short-sightedness and a plus (+) indicates long-sightedness
If you have astigmatism, you can find measurements for the cylinder and axis on your toric contact lens prescription. If you are presbyopic, you can find an additional power and occasionally an eye dominance (depending on your lens type), on your multifocal contact lens prescription.
Ordering from a different country
Lenstore is based in the UK, but we deliver contact lenses to over 30 countries worldwide including the USA. Your prescription will still include the key information which would be included on one issued in the UK, so you can order your contacts online.
You don’t need to provide us with your contact lens prescription upon ordering, but we may ask to see a copy of this at any point, we will accept a valid contact lens prescription from every country.
How do I buy prescription contact lenses online if I don’t have my prescription?
If you’ve had a contact lens fitting appointment but don’t have your prescription, you can contact your optician and ask them to provide you with a copy, they may send you this via email or post.
Unable to find your contacts online?
Most high-street opticians sell the same contact lens brands that are available online – but under a different name. We have a list of opticians' own brand equivalents here.
If you can’t enter your prescription details on our website, please feel free to send a copy of your contact lens prescriptions to our clinical team, they will be able to help you find the right lens type.
Obtaining a Contact Lens Prescription
In order to obtain a contact lens prescription, you need to schedule a contact lens fitting appointment with your optician. After completing the fitting and trialling the recommended contact lenses, you will obtain a contact lens prescription.
What happens during a contact lens fitting appointment?
During your first contact lens fitting appointment, your optician will ask you about your lifestyle and how often you plan to wear lenses, as well as discuss the history of your eye health to understand potential risks. Your optician will inspect your eye and take keratometry readings, to confirm the base curve and diameter of the lens needed to correct your vision.
The optician will assess your tear film and check if your eyes produce enough moisture for you to wear contact lenses safely. They will provide you with trial lenses, teach you how to insert and remove these safely, and check the movement and position of the lenses on your eyes, as well as your vision while you're wearing the lenses. After this, you will be sent home with a pair of trial lenses to wear for a few days before you attend the follow-up appointment, where the optician checks your eye health and may make some adjustments before providing you with your contact lens prescription.
How expensive is a contact lens prescription?
In the UK, a contact lens prescription is provided for free, after the follow-up appointment to the contact lens fitting, or the contact lens aftercare, which occur annually or every two years. The prices for these appointments vary between opticians.
Yes, your contact lens prescription will state the date of examination and how long the prescription is valid for. Most contact lens prescriptions are valid for 12 - 24 months, but this can vary depending on your eye health.
How do I find my contact lens prescription?
You can find the details of the contact lenses you should wear on your contact lens prescription, a piece of paper provided by your optician. You may also find the details of your prescription on the side of the box of your contact lenses or on the foil of the blister packs.
If you are unable to locate either of these, you will be able to contact your optician to confirm these details.
Ordering a different lens type
Every prescription is lens type specific. Every lens type has unique measurements and is manufactured with different materials and technologies. Therefore, it is important to always confirm with your optician before trying a new lens type.
It is not recommended to buy a brand of contact lenses that you have not been prescribed for.
Why are some contact lenses different from others
Every contact lens type has its own set base curve and diameter measurements to ensure that lenses sit properly on your eyes and don’t move around. These measurements help to prevent irritation or discomfort while providing the best vision correction.
Additionally, contact lenses are made from various materials, such as hydrogel or silicone hydrogel, that affect oxygen permeability and technologies that keep your eyes moisturised. Because everyone’s eye health is different, these factors play an important role in keeping your eyes comfortable and healthy.
Switching between modalities
Even if the brand of contact lenses is the same, for example Acuvue Oasys (two-weekly lenses) and Acuvue Oasys 1 Day (daily lenses), you will need to attend a new fitting appointment before switching between modalities. Because the daily contact lenses are made so they can be worn once before being disposed of, and monthly contact lenses can be worn for up to 30 days, with them being removed, cleaned, and stored properly every night, the material used in the manufacturing process differ significantly.
If you’ve previously worn dailies and wish to switch to two-weeklies or monthlies, your optician will also teach you how to properly look after your reusable lenses to prevent any irritation or infection.
Can I order trial lenses online?
Lenstore does not sell trial lenses as we are not able to check the health of your eyes to ensure the lenses are suitable for you or provide you with the necessary aftercare. Your optician will be able to provide you with free trial lenses after a contact lens fitting appointment.
Do I need a prescription for coloured contact lenses?
Yes, even if you are buying coloured contact lenses for aesthetic purposes without correcting your vision, you will still need to be fitted for these. As everyone’s eyes are unique, you need to ensure that the lenses fit properly and don’t affect the health of your eyes. You can also use the fitting appointment to try different colours and find one that suits you best.
BC stands for the base curve; this number defines how curved the contact lenses need to be to fit your eyes.
DIA stands for diameter and the number shows how long the distance between the edges of your contact lenses is.
Everyone’s eyes are shaped uniquely, which is why there are many different lenses on the market that all have different base curve and diameter measurements. Always make sure to check the base curve and diameter of your contact lens prescription before ordering your lenses online.
If you wear lenses with the wrong base curve or diameter, the lenses may move around excessively, sit too tightly on the eye or fall out during wear.
Roshni Patel BSc (Hons) MCOptom qualified as an Optometrist in 2004. She is a member of the Association of Optometrists and is the Professional Services Manager at Lenstore where she is responsible for supporting and guiding all departments from a clinical standpoint.