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How long do contact lens prescriptions last?

Eye Health

structure image How long do contact lens prescriptions last?


If you’re already someone who wears contact lenses, you know that to be able to order contact lenses online, you need to present a valid contact lens prescription, since you can’t order contact lenses with expired prescriptions. You’ll also have noticed that when you go to get your eyes checked by your OD, they always give you a copy of your contact lens prescription when the exam is finished, even if you haven’t specifically asked for it. You’ve also probably noticed that your contact lens prescription is always only good for the same amount of time. While you may not have ever noticed, now you may be asking yourself, why is that?

Why do you need a prescription?

It may seem obvious, but you need a prescription because in order to make contact lenses that fit and function, contact lens manufacturers require specific details regarding the shape of your eye and the type and degree of refractive errors of your eyes.

Contact lenses are classified as medical devices by the FDA, and as such you need a specific prescription from your eye care specialist in order to purchase them. In order to make sure you can choose where to buy contacts, your OD is required to give you the prescription at no extra cost.

In fact, in the US, the federal government passed a law called The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, which establishes the requirements that your eye doctor and contact lens retailer of choice must abide by when prescribing and selling contact lenses. The law regulates the minimum validity of the prescription, one year since the last eye exam and fitting, and specifies the details that must be included within the prescription:

  • patient’s name
  • eye examination date
  • the date the patient receives the prescription
  • the lens fitting date
  • the date the prescription is no longer valid

How long does a contact lens prescription last?

Contact lens prescriptions are only valid for a set period of time. The standard minimum and maximum amount of time a prescription lasts may vary from state to state. Generally, contact lens prescriptions are valid from 1 to 2 years following the date of your last eye exam and contact lens fitting. Once your prescription expires, it’s time for your contacts prescription renewal. You will have to schedule another exam with your eye doctor to make sure that your prescription hasn’t changed or that your eyes have adjusted well to the specific lenses you have been prescribed.