If your vision isn’t perfect, you probably have a love-hate relationship with contacts. Inserting lenses directly onto your eyeball every morning can be scary, uncomfortable, expensive, and just too much effort. But the benefits over glasses are clear.
For those who wear contacts everyday or are considering giving them a try, you’re in luck. New online subscription providers like Waldo, Hubble, and SightBox make it easier than ever to buy contact lenses for a reasonable price without worrying about refills. These services are definitely convenient, and can likely save you a decent chunk of change. In this article we compare them — Waldo vs. Hubble vs. Sightbox — the three leading contact lens subscription services vying to correct your vision.
How are Hubble, Waldo, & SightBox different than traditional optometrists?
Let’s quickly go over these services to see how they differ from most people’s experience buying contacts today, which looks something like this:
- Find a local optometrist to examine your eyes and recommend lenses. Pay a copay (if you have vision insurance) or 100% out of pocket (if you don’t). Regardless, it’s hard to know if you’re getting a deal and a pain hassling with insurance.
- Later on you return to the optometrist to have your contacts fitted. It’s difficult to know what brands are best, so mostly folks go with whatever the doc recommends, even if it’s more expensive. You can save by buying in bulk, but then you’re locked in.
- Once a year, patients typically visit their optometrist to have their eyes re-checked and reorder more contacts.
There’s nothing wrong with this arrangement, but firms like Waldo and Hubble clearly saw room for improvement. Here’s what it’s like to order contact lenses from either service:
- If you already know your prescription, skip ahead to step #2. Otherwise first find an optometrist to examine your eyes and prescribe contacts. Pay out of pocket or with insurance for both.
- Sign up on HiWaldo.com or Hubblecontacts.com and enter a few details. They both offer generous free trials:
- Get a month’s supply of daily contacts delivered to your door for ~$35 bucks.
- Cancel, pause, or update your subscription any time from your computer. No more expensive visits to the optometrist just to get another batch. It’s just that simple.
SightBox is a bit different, but also preying on convenience seekers. Offering a hybrid between your traditional optometrist and a newfangled subscription approach, here’s how it works:
- Sign up for an account on the SightBox website, and they pay for you to meet with a local optometrist for an eye exam and contact fitting.
- Whichever contacts your doc recommends, Sightbox will deliver them to your door for $39-$89 / month, depending on your usage frequency (dailies vs. bi-weeklies vs. monthlies).
- They work with your insurance for you and allow you to pay one flat rate every month regardless of the contact brand you choose.
So wait, why are Waldo, Hubble, & SightBox better?
If the benefits aren’t immediately clear, here’s a shortlist of reasons contact wearers value these new subscription services:
- No need to deal with insurance
- Less frequent doctor visits
- More predictable, transparent monthly payments
- Lower cost overall
- More flexibility (whether it’s changing the frequency of delivery on the fly, pausing shipments for a month, changing how you pay, etc.)
The hardest part about making the switch for most people? Apparently it’s telling their doctor. If you’re worried about it, don’t be. Online shopping has infiltrated just about every other business, so your optometrist should hardly be surprised when you let him or her know you no longer plan to buy contacts the old fashioned way. The only downside is that most optometrists don’t have any experience with Hubble or Waldo contacts yet, or at least not nearly as much as they do with brands they sell themselves, so they won’t be as helpful. Just something to consider.
Waldo vs. Hubble vs. SightBox: Which is the best?
There are a few key differences between these online providers. Use this chart to help you compare Hubble, Waldo, and SightBox head-to-head and identify potential deal breakers:
Contact Lens Subscription Comparison
|Comprehensive Eye Exam||No||No||Yes|
|Contact Lens Fitting||No||No||Yes|
|Free Trial||First 10 pairs free (just pay $2.95 for shipping)||First 15 pairs free (just pay $1 for shipping)||No free trial|
$36 per month
$36 per month
|$39 – $89 per month (including shipping)|
|Brands Offered||Waldo||Hubble||Biofinity, Acuvue, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, and most well-known contact options|
|Replacement Schedule||Daily lenses, 30 per box||Daily lenses, 30 per box||Depends on brand|
|Can pay with FSA (Flexible Spending Account)?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Offers Toric Lenses for (Astigmatism)?||Not yet||Not yet||Yes|
|Offers Multifocal/Bifocal Lenses?||Not yet||Not yet||Yes|
|Has In-House Optician||Yes||No||No|
|Website||Visit Waldo||Visit Hubble||Visit SightBox|
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Perhaps the most fundamental difference between these three? The lenses themselves. Hubble and Waldo offer their own proprietary brands, while SightBox sells lenses from all the most popular contact brands you already love-hate. Hubble and Waldo’s offerings have both met the FDA standard and are produced by reputable manufacturers in Taiwan, but obviously they haven’t been battle tested nearly as much as say, CooperVision Biofinity XR or Acuvue Oasys lenses. The question is, is the quality of Waldo and Hubble contacts good enough?
Comparing Contact Lens Quality: Hubble vs. Waldo vs. SightBox
Convenience and cost aside, here’s a chart to help you quickly compare the specs of the Hubble, Waldo, and SightBox’s lenses:
Contact Lens Quality Comparison
|UV-Protection||70% UVA and 95% UVB||80% UVA and 95% UVB||Varies by brand|
|% Water||58%||55%||Varies by brand|
|Manufactured by||Pegavision in Taiwan||Yung Sheng in Taiwan||Varies by brand|
|Lens Diameter||14.2mm||14.2mm||Varies by brand|
|Power Range||+4.00D to -12.00D||+6.00 to -12.00D||Varies by brand|
|Base curve||8.5mm||8.6mm||Varies by brand|
|Material||Etafilcon A||Methafilcon A||Varies by brand|
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What consumers say about Waldo, Hubble, and SightBox
Ultimately your eyes are sensitive and it’s not worth gambling on quality. To truly find out if contacts from Hubble and Waldo hold a candle to household brands like Acuvue and Bausch + Lomb, it’s tempting to read consumer reviews online. (Spoiler alert: it’s an unhelpful cacophony.) Skeptics of Hubble and Waldo worry about the upstart because it lacks a long track record of success. They also claim that Hubble lenses use old technology (hydrogel lenses rather than Silicone Hydrogel) that don’t allow as much oxygen to the corneas as other brands. But for every detractor, there’s just as many or more vocal champions singing the startups’ praises. Convenience, low price, and quality experience are echoed in their refrains.
Feel free to explore the rabbit hole of Hubble and Waldo customer reviews if you dare:
My personal experience with Waldo vs Hubble
Everyone’s eyes are different. Thus I’m afraid an account of my own experience testing each lens wouldn’t be particularly helpful. While I have nothing bad to report about their quality, my best recommendation is to evaluate them yourself. Sign up for a free trial of both Hubble and Waldo today. You’ll get 10-15 days of free contact lenses (25 if you sign up for both 😎), and you can cancel right away if they aren’t the right fit. Nothing to lose really, and a whole lot to gain.
If you’re curious what it’s like to get Waldo contacts in the mail and how they are packaged, you can watch my quick unboxing video:
Hubble vs Waldo vs SightBox: The Verdict
Direct-to-consumer startups Waldo, Hubble, and SightBox have raised millions of dollars of venture capital to disrupt the contact lens market. Each champions a slightly different subscription offering that promises to deliver quality contacts to your door with greater convenience, lower prices, and more flexibility than the status quo.
The quality of new contact brands such as Waldo and Hubble are unproven, but many swear by them. Waldo’s 4/5 rating across 3600 reviews on TrustPilot, for instance, is an encouraging vote of confidence.
The best solution for your eyes ultimately depends on how you wear contacts though. Important factors to consider include:
- Do you currently have a prescription for contact lenses?
- Do you have a contact lens brand that you LOVE or are you open to alternatives?
- Do you prefer to change your contacts daily, bi-weekly, or monthly?
- Do you have an astigmatism or presbyopia (i.e. need bifocal or toric lenses)?
Here are some final thoughts on who is likely to prefer Waldo vs. Hubble vs. SightBox.
Waldo is a fantastic option for anyone who loves affordable convenience and already knows their contact lens prescription. Unfortunately if you wear bifocals or need correction for an astigmatism, Waldo can’t quite help you yet, but their own brand of FDA-approved daily lenses is worth trying. Especially since you can get 10 free pairs by clicking the image below! The brand also boasts an in-house optician that can help you answer questions, although we don’t know how available or valuable their advice will be.
Strikingly similar to Waldo, Hubble is also ideal for folks who already wear contacts. If you don’t, they offer a bit more help finding a local optometrist. Overall Hubble offers a month’s supply of daily contacts for a few dollars cheaper than Waldo (although they pass on the cost of shipping, which may make them slightly more expensive depending where you live.) Their free trial is even more generous than Waldo’s (click the image below to get 15 free pairs!), their lenses’ UV protection is slightly higher, and they accommodate a slightly larger range of lens powers.
SightBox is yet another great option. At $89 per month for daily contact lenses, it’s more than double the cost of either Hubble or Waldo. But don’t forget that the price includes annual eye exams and contact lens fittings, which can be costly to pay for out of pocket. The biggest differentiator for SightBox is the flexibility to continue using the contact lens brand of your choice. To summarize, SightBox is ideal for anyone who:
- doesn’t have a prescription already
- needs vision correction for an astigmatism or needs multifocal lenses (neither Hubble nor Waldo can help you here)
- has finally found a contact lens brand they love and doesn’t want to switch
Hope that narrows the field a bit. Take advantage of these subscriptions’ free trials and let us know about your experience!