The Bottom Line
In the United States, the bottom line is you need a prescription to order colored contacts from an online merchant or retail store.
By law, color contacts are considered medical devices and must be prescribed by an eye care professional. That means an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Even if you have perfect vision and don’t wear or need contacts or glasses, you must get an eye exam and be fitted properly for contact lenses.
However, the law also states that your eye doctor has to provide you with a copy of your prescription, which leaves you free to shop around. When purchasing contacts, the merchant must validate your prescription before delivering them to you.
Wearing Colors if You Also Wear Clear Contacts
If you wear clear contact lenses, there’s a good change your eye doctor can recommend color contact brands that are best suited to the shape of your eyes and your prescription.
However, if you have a strong prescription or astigmatism, you may have a more difficult time finding colored lenses that work for you. Powers for most two-week disposable brands are between -9.00 and +6.00.
For people with astigmatism, Freshlook Colorblends Toric are currently the only disposable colored contacts brand available.
Wearing Colors When You Don’t NEED Contacts or Glasses
If you want to change your eye color just for the fun of it and you don’t wear contacts or glasses, you still need a prescription. Contacts without vision correction are called Plano. A prescription for Plano lenses is written as 0.00 power.
All color contact brands offer Plano lenses, and some brands only come in 0.00 power. The good news is there is a wide range of brands and colors if you don’t need vision correction.
Getting a Prescription for Color Contacts
To get a prescription for color contacts, you must see an eye care professional such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist. You will receive an eye exam and contact lens fitting, and be provided with a written prescription for lenses.
Like other contacts, colored contact lenses are made from different materials and have different diameters and base curves. For example, if you are fitted for a lens with a base curve of 8.6, you shouldn’t purchase or wear contacts with a base curve of 8.3.
Improperly fitted contacts lead to discomfort and potentially other serious medical conditions.
Eye exams are often covered by insurance. Typical exams cost around $50 but contact lens fitting may be an additional cost.
One final note. You can’t use your eye glasses prescription to order contact lenses. Eye glass prescriptions are completely different from contact lens prescriptions and require different eye measurements.
U.S. Federal Law regarding contact lenses