Like Cheap Contact Lenses? Then You Won’t Like This

Major contact lens manufacturers are setting price minimums for some of their products, which critics say will eliminate consumers' ability to find discounted lenses.

Like Cheap Contact Lenses? Then You Won’t Like This Photo (cc) by meddygarnet

Shopping around to find a good deal on contact lenses is a thing of the past, for some lenses anyway.

Three of the top four contact manufacturers have set price minimums for some of their lenses, a controversial move that prevents discounts for consumers.

According to Consumer Reports:

We’ve noticed that three of the top four companies — Alcon (aka CIBA), Bausch & Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson — have already adopted resale-price maintenance policies for some of their products. And the fourth, CooperVision, might not be far behind. The four account for 97 percent of all contact lenses sold in the United States.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel recently met to discuss whether the contact manufacturers’ new pricing methods amount to anti-competitive behavior.

“The only winners with this pricing strategy are manufacturers, high-priced retailers, and doctors, who would no longer have to compete with discounters,” CR said.

Contact lens makers said instituting uniform prices may actually result in some cheaper lenses. One company said it’s combating “showrooming,” where people find out about lenses from their eye doctor but then buy them from online discounters, according to Reuters. It’s estimated that 10 percent of contacts are sold online.

My contacts are manufactured by Alcon, one of the proponents of price floors. I typically buy my contacts once a year through 1-800 CONTACTS. After shopping around for the best price, I found that 1-800 CONTACTS offered the cheapest lenses. Now I have to wonder: Will that still be true in the future?

What do you think of contact lens manufacturers’ price-floor plan? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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