My experience reflects one snapshot of the level of price transparency within the contacts lens market. The intent of this post is not to argue for either more or less amount of price transparency in healthcare.
I ordered my contacts all by myself last week. By that I mean I went on www.walgreens.com, put in my contact's specs from my doctor's prescription slip, and paid for it --- all in one process.
I'm not an educated contacts consumer, but a typical one. I've been wearing contacts for the last 7 years and last week, I ordered and paid for my contacts by myself for the first time. Here's what I've done before that: I call my ophthalmologist and ask him order it for me, pick up from his office and pay him. The average price was $50 per box (6 lenses) per eye, or about $100 for both eyes.
My ophthalmologist controlled the supplier and the price, so I was a powerless consumer who accepted whatever price he selected for me. However, I didn't know how much prices varied and hence I did not care.