Can I Get Contacts with an Expired Prescription?

Can I Get Contacts with an Expired Prescription?

Navigating the ins and outs of ordering contacts with an expired prescription can be tricky. Did you know that within the United States, you unequivocally cannot buy contact lenses without a valid, doctor-provided prescription? This legality applies to both in-store and online retailers. If you find yourself holding an expired prescription, you’ll need a fresh visit to your eye doctor for a new eye exam and an updated prescription. So let’s explore the rules and risks to make sure you can buy contact lenses that are right for you.

Why Is a Valid Prescription Necessary?

Contact lenses are medical devices so they require a valid prescription to ensure eye health and accurate vision correction. Eye doctors provide contact lens prescriptions to ensure your lenses match your requirements. Always make sure to have a valid contact lens prescription before trying to buy or reorder contacts. This necessity stems from three fundamental reasons:

Risks of Using an Expired Contact Lens Prescription

Utilizing an expired or unsuitable prescription comes with the following risks.

Inappropriate Prescription

Trying to buy or reorder contacts with an expired prescription might not only yield lenses that fail to adequately correct your vision but also overlook the innate evolution of your eyesight over time. The corrective needs of your contact lenses may shift, potentially requiring altered lens parameters. Particularly as one progresses into their 40s, 50s, and 60s, eyesight naturally adjusts. In some cases, this can result in new vision challenges or exacerbating existing ones. As a result, it’s important to remember that ongoing optical health could require prescription updates to maintain optimal vision and comfort.

Eye Troubles

Eye Troubles

Inaccurate or outdated contact lens prescriptions can exacerbate or cause eye problems like infections or discomfort. If you use lenses that aren’t right for your eyes, it can result in:

Moreover, your eye doctor does more than just provide vision measurements in a prescription; they also specify a lens type and brand. This assurance is crucial to ensure that the material and fit of the contact lens are ideal for your eye health needs. The chosen lens type and brand will stem from the contact lens fitting conducted during your eye check. Measurements are taken to determine which brand aligns with your eye’s shape and size. Typically, after wearing a trial lens for a few weeks, you’ll revisit the doctor for final prescription approval.

A Look at Laws Surrounding Lenses

Under the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA), legislated on February 4, 2004, and amended in 2020, sellers are obligated to verify prescriptions with the prescribing eye doctor before selling contact lenses, making unauthorized purchasing of contact lenses legally intricate. This federal law necessitates that eye doctors, encompassing optometrists and ophthalmologists, bestow patients with prescriptions, which should contain comprehensive details including:

The Act empowers consumers to compare contact lens sellers and prohibits eye doctors from mandating lens purchases from them or imposing extra fees.

Can Eyeglass Prescriptions Double Up for Contacts?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Contact lens and glasses prescriptions are distinctly different. Contact lens fitting involves specific measurements that aren’t discernible or translatable from a glasses prescription. Aspects like the base curve and diameter, about your eye’s size and shape, are important for contact lenses since they’re designed to sit directly on your eye, unlike glasses which are positioned away from your eyeballs. Precise parameters and brand specifics are vital in a contact lens prescription to uphold both comfort and accurate vision correction.

Can Eyeglass Prescriptions Double Up for Contacts?

Do I Need a Prescription for Securing Colored Contact Lenses?

Yes, even colored contact lenses require a prescription since they’re also classified as medical devices.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s Contact Lens Rule, established in July 2004, requires prescriptions for all contacts, including those without corrective power like “non-prescription” or cosmetic contact lenses. It’s pivotal to avoid purchasing lenses from sellers offering them without a prescription, as this breaches legal standards and potentially compromises safety. These contacts may not adhere to the stringent safety benchmarks upheld by legitimate, doctor-prescribed contact lenses.

The same is true for costume contact lenses, often worn with a Halloween costume or as a unique accessory such as cat eyes. Again, it is important to ensure that the contact lens fits the eye properly, even if it is only worn for one night. Wearing contact lenses that have not been prescribed and do not fit properly to your eyes can cause infection and other problems.

How Long Is a Contact Lens Prescription Valid?

Typically, contact lens prescriptions are valid for one year from the date of the eye exam, although some states permit extended validity periods. For instance, Missouri imposes a stringent 1-year renewal requisite to uphold prescription legitimacy. Make sure that you always look at the expiration date before you purchase contact lenses.

Note that in certain medical scenarios, contact lens prescriptions expire in less than a year. You’ll want to securely store your prescription since it’s indispensable for purchasing contact lenses, and remember, your doctor is obliged to provide it post-exam.


Navigating through the lens of legality and safety, one might ask, “Where can I buy contacts with an expired prescription?” The resounding advice from eye care professionals is to secure an up-to-date, valid prescription to protect your eye health and adhere to legal requirements.

At Discover Vision, serving the Kansas City, MO, Kansas City, KS and surrounding areas, we prioritize your ocular wellness and guide you through the process with expertise. Ensure your eyes are in optimal health with a timely eye exam and accurate contact lens fitting. Embark on a journey toward impeccable vision with us — schedule your appointment today in order to buy contact lenses with confidence and precision.

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