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Hubble Contact Lenses – 4 Things To Consider

hubble contact lenses

You know the old saying if it’s too good to be true then it probably is? The same might be said about Hubble contact lenses.

Forbes Magazine recently ran a feature on the founders of Hubble contact lenses and their goal of disrupting the contact lens industry.

According to the founders, contacts are “expensive because they can be. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars. They don’t realize they have choices.”

Is this really true?

So far in 2017, 84% of the patients in my practice wear daily contact lenses. Cost has not been a hindrance because there is a daily lens available at various price points. Truth is, the economic laws of supply and demand apply in the contact lens industry as well.

As the population’s demand for daily wear contact lenses has increased, new and more brands of daily lenses have been developed, and prices have decreased. In fact, some dailies are now less expensive than monthly lenses.

The average reputable daily lens cost can range from $40-$90 a box.

So what makes contact lens pricing vary?
hubble contact lenses

1. Quality of Materials

The difference in the cost of a box of single use contact lenses is most dependent on the materials involved in production. I typically explain this to my patients as 3 categories: low, middle, and high. The cheapest lenses are in the lowest category. I rarely prescribe these due to lack of breathability and dryness. A majority of patients will need at least a “mid range” quality lens, and many likely need a lens in the “higher” category of contact lenses in order to wear their lenses all day without experiencing symptoms of dryness or discomfort.

Silicone hydrogel lenses like Acuvue Oasys 1 Day and Dailies Total One are premium quality contact lenses. These lenses are superior in both the amount of oxygen they allow to your eyes, and long lasting moisture they provide throughout a day’s wear.

The prices on these quality lenses are a reflection of the premium nature of the lens.

Read more about some of our favorite contact lenses.

So what material are Hubble contact lenses made out of?

In contrast, Hubble contact lenses are made of methafilicon A. Several older monthly contacts were made out of methafilicon A including Frequency 55 and Vertex lenses. Both of these lenses have since been discontinued by CooperVision. Most importantly, Contact Lens Spectrum lists the dk of methafilicon A as 18.

The significance of this very low dk means that much less oxygen is getting to the cornea than with other commonly prescribed daily wear contact lenses. As we know, the dk of a contact lens is extremely important when prescribing a lens to patients in order to mitigate risk of corneal neovascularization, corneal ulcers, corneal edema, and other contact lens related complications.

For Comparison:

  • Dailies Total One  dk =140
  • Acuvue Oasys Daily dk =103
  • Acuvue TrueEye dk =100
  • Clariti One Day dk =60
  • Biotrue One Day =42
  • Hubble dk = 18

All information obtained from ODSpecs.com

2. Research and Development

Like any product, no matter the industry, a significant hidden aspect of cost is research and development.

Whether contact lenses, lenses for our glasses or our iPhones, we pay for product evolution. When you are using an old contact lens material like Hubble contact lenses do, there is not an associated R&D cost. They are using someone else’s used goods. In the US, we are driven by technology and innovation. We run out to buy the latest and newest. We fork over our money to have the newest device and gizmo.

Contact lenses are no different.

In order for us to be able to wear more comfortable lenses each year, we must be willing to invest in the technology. We need lenses that we are able to wear after 10-12 hours of digital device use without drying out.  We must have lenses that are more resistant to corneal infections or inflammation. It’s imperative that companies continue to design lenses that provide us with superior vision and unparalleled optics.

Could research and development efforts lead to contacts to enhance the vision of patients with macular degeneration or deliver medications for those with glaucoma? Could R&D lead to improved materials to reduce halo effect and make us more comfortable with night-time driving? Are contact lenses that protect us from the effects of blue light from digital devices in our future? 

3. Production and FDA Involvement

According to their website, Hubble contact lenses are produced by St. Shine in Taiwan.

In a 2013 letter to St. Shire from the FDA, the FDA cited several violations by the company during an investigation. As of a June 2017, the FDA cites the issues have been resolved for the time being, but emphasizes, “This letter does not relieve you or your firm from the responsibility of taking all necessary steps to assure sustained compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its implementing regulations or with other relevant legal authority. The Agency expects you and your firm to maintain compliance and will continue to monitor your state of compliance.”

4. Low Cost?

Hubble’s biggest driving force has been their price. They offer the subscriber 30 pairs of lenses for $30 dollars, which brings the cost to $1.00  a day/.50 cents per lens.

Is this really a bargain?

When you look at lenses of equal quality, you will see that it is not. It’s a low price for an older material lens, and similar in price (or more expensive) than older lenses listed below. They also include a $3.00 shipping charge per order.

  • Focus Dailies dk =26 ; Avg Price $26.00/90 lenses (.29 cents per lens)
  • Softlens 1 Day dk =22; Avg price $26.00/90 lens (.29 cents per lens)
  • ClearSight 1 Day dk =14; Avg price $50.00/ 90 lenses (.55 cents per lens)
  • 1-Day Acuvue dk =21; Avg price $30.00/30 lenses (.50 cents per lens)

All info obtained from ODSpecs.com

Would I prescribe Hubble contact lenses for my patients, friends or family?

No, the technology in contact lenses today is far superior than the days of methafilicon A. Hubble is doing contact lens wearers a disservice by offering them old materials in contact lenses for a perceived lower price.

Not to mention, in a December 2017 Quartz article, author Alison Griswold claimed that “Contact lens startup Hubble sold lenses with a fake prescription from a made-up doctor.”

The reality is, you can obtain lenses of superior quality and proven track record of safety and success for comparable costs. In a world driven by innovation and technology, our eyes deserve better.

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About Courtney Dryer

Courtney Dryer
Courtney Dryer is a 2011 graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. In addition to consulting with new graduate optometrists on start-up practices, she contributes regularly to New Grad Optometry and has guest blogged for Invision Magazine. The unique design of her boutique practice was featured in Women in Optometry. In 2015, Vision Monday named her a Rising Star, and one of the most influential women in optical.

5 comments

  1. Jesse Kahnk

    Great article. I recently had a discussion with a patient about Hubbel. I reviewed all of those points you discussed and his response was “Yeah I get all that, but really I like the convenience of having a new box of lenses at my front door every month and not having to deal with all those lenses at once.” Wonder if that was unique to just this one patient or if they are also capturing some of the momentum of the online subscription model.

    • Courtney Dryer

      Hi Jesse, I haven’t had that point raised by my patients yet, but my response would be is it worth $3.00 to ship every month? If its about the cheap cost of the lens..thats an extra $36.00 you could spend on a good lens. I think you are correct about the online model…its a phase…whether ingredients for dinner, clothing or contacts.

  2. Joseph Neron

    I think this article is misleading. You compare Hubble’s DK to the DK of a premium daily contact lenses but you don’t compare it to Ciba dailies or Acuvue 1-day moist. However, you compare Hubble’s pricing to Acuvue 1-day moist and Ciba dailies which is more appropriate.

    I have been sitting Hubble contact lenses and I found them to be no better and no worse in performance than see the dailies and Acuvue one day moist.

    If your concern is about the company that makes these contact lenses then I would ask you to research what things major contact lens companies have done in this country that do not support Optometry.

    I can say anecdotally that the quality of Hubble contacts are good but not great. I would say the same for Acuvue 1-day moist and Ciba dailies. Yes none of these are very breathable as compared to Acuvue Oasys 1-day, however, there is a place in the market for Hubble.

    • Courtney Dryer

      Dk of an Acuvue Moist= 21
      Dk of a Ciba Daily= 26
      Both of these are higher then Hubble.

      My question is…why are you fitting low Dk lenses? Also, would you yourself be comfortable wearing a moist or ciba daily all day long? I only fit premium lenses that I would wear myself. For a majority of patients, the difference in comfort is worth the price.

      While you may have a fitting set to view Hubble lenses on the eye, most ODs do not. It’s a disservice to patients to have a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to prescribing. Doctors are receiving faxes in the middle of the night for orders, and they haven’t viewed the lens on the patient’s eye. If the lens causes issues on the eye, who is going to be held responsible…Hubble or our license?

  3. Joe CHeng

    Great article!

    FYI the California Optometric Association has contacted the State Board of Optometry to investigate that Hubble may be operating illegally here in the States. Stay tuned…

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