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If there's one thing I can't stand, it's dry contacts. Even after I had my very own She's All That moment and theoretically leveled up from glasses, I kept returning to them because the contacts I tried were brittle and irritating. After several months of paying more than I wanted for an unsatisfying product, I threw in the towel. At least my old specs were a known quantity.
But that was several years ago, and this summer I got the itch to go frameless again. I knew there had to be a line of contacts that could deliver moisture and comfort – and keep me from awkwardly switching between glasses and sunnies all day. After talking to a fellow editor here at TQE (because where else would I go for advice?), I tried the brand she wholeheartedly recommended above all.
And that's WALDO. Armed with a bespoke subscription service that ensures its lenses are more affordable than the big brands —and chic branding that feels more akin to Warby Parker than 1-800-CONTACTS – a month's supply of WALDO contact lenses costs $19.50 per box. Less than half of what I was paying before! Even more crucially, WALDO’s brand-new product line uses vitamin-enriched saline to keep your eyes feeling extra refreshed throughout the day.
But when it comes to anything that's going directly onto my eyeballs, I need to be 100% confident in the brand. WALDO was a new name to me, so it was time to do some research.
Back to the Beginning
I was afraid that a brand I'd discovered outside of the medical system would skimp on quality eye care – but that's exactly the problem WALDO was designed to combat. The power of good vision has been a throughline in founder Ashleigh Hinde's life – not only did she win the BBC's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award when she was just 12 years old (!), she also saw her mother develop blindness in one eye due to an untreated squint. Access to vision care became a central cause of hers, especially after nearly two decades as a contact lens wearer dealing with massive markups and unreliable products.
Thus WALDO was born, launching in 2017 before growing nearly 500% into a DTC titan that's shipped over 50 million lenses to date – and is finally branching out from the UK into the American market. WALDO has also greatly expanded its reach into traditional healthcare models, with a network of 75,000 doctors that are all similarly customer-first in their approach. Real human impact remains the core of the model, as the brand partners with the international charity Sightsavers to fight avoidable blindness.
And it's not lip service – your WALDO orders are directly paid forward. For every annual contact lens subscription plan, WALDO provides a cataract surgery; for every purchase of its Hydration Drops, WALDO delivers a sight-saving trachoma treatment; and for every pair of Blue Light Glasses sold, WALDO funds the cost of a pair of prescription eyeglasses. All that from a brand that's already charging far less than its competitors? Color me impressed.
Made to Order
Still, for a contacts skeptic like me, my endorsement was always going to come down to comfort. Lenses that had me straining, itching and over the moon to finally pinch them out weren't going to cut it, no matter how philanthropic the brand. So I set my sights on WALDO's brand-new Hydra Boost Plus Daily Contact Lenses, which use a Vitamin B12 solution to reduce redness by 97%, cut down on eye strain by 40%, and offer double the amount of comfortable wear time. Exactly the assurances I needed.
The WALDO ordering system was as easy as advertised. Not only was I able to try 20 lenses before my subscription kicked in – free of charge besides a $2.95 shipping cost – after inputting my prescription I was at the checkout page in under two minutes. For those looking to customize their order, WALDO also offers one-time shipments, hydration drops, and an eyecare starter kit that also comes with a toiletry bag.
Once ordered, I barely had any time to wait around, thanks to WALDO's guaranteed delivery within 48 hours. At long last, my hiatus from contacts was about to be over.
Taking the Plunge
Unboxing WALDO, the first thing that caught my eye was the color of the liquid the contacts were sitting in. Unaware there were any options besides clear solution, imagine my surprise when I saw it was pink! That's due to the vitamins themselves – B6, B12 and E, to be exact – that were promised to keep my eyes feeling refreshed. And hey, a little pop of color never hurt anybody. I was still onboard, provided I could remember how to get lenses in in the first place.
That part couldn't have been easier. The lenses practically flew off my fingertips, with layers of moisture that instantly bonded to and refreshed my eyes, and a super fine, tapered edge that made the contacts feel like they were barely there. Pleasantly surprised with how painless it was to get them in, I went about my day, waiting for dryness to strike.
Two hours went by. Then three. Then five. At no point did WALDO's contacts become uncomfortable whatsoever. They stayed incredibly breathable, and when I demoed the Hydration Drops, the lenses never slipped around. The Hydra Boost Plus became like my second skin, and after years of daily glasses use, my old frames started living in the nightstand permanently.
Two hours went by. Then three. Then five. At no point did WALDO's contacts become uncomfortable whatsoever. They stayed incredibly breathable, and when I demoed the Hydration Drops, the lenses never slipped around.
Even better news: there was no effort needed on my part to keep the good times rolling. My next set of lenses shipped automatically, and with the 15% I saved by enrolling in WALDO’s contact lens subscription service, I wasn't complaining. I had finally overcome my skepticism and discomfort around contacts, and got to support a brand that was combating global vision loss while I was at it.
So thanks, WALDO. I can see clearly now (and yes, the rain is gone too, but chalk that up to California weather.)
Five More Reasons to Get Lensed Up With WALDO:
1. Not sold on the vitamins? WALDO also offers its regular Hydra Boost Daily Lenses, which still over 58% moisture content and offer UV protection (they block up to 83% of UVA and 97% UVB rays).
2. If you're screen-addicted (guilty as charged), WALDO’s Blue Light Glasses block 100% of blue light up to 410nm, helping you out with everything from eye strain to proper sleep rhythms.
3. If you like buying in bulk, you'll be glad to know that the Hydration Drops have a three-year shelf life – grab as many as your heart desires, and just be sure to use them within 30 days once opened.
4. WALDO takes sustainability incredibly seriously, using a pre-paid recycling program that allows you to return your used contacts and every bit of its packaging.
5. These high-quality lenses are also 100% cruelty-free, using only naturally active ingredients that aren't chemically harsh, and never testing on animals.