ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Today, The Vision Council will release its first set of comprehensive industry estimates since last year’s inSights Research Program launch. The inaugural Market inSights 2022 Report estimates that the overall size of the U.S. optical retail industry was $76.5 billion as compared to $76.09 billion for 2021, according to an announcement from The Vision Council. Both the 2021 and 2022 figures use the new methodology associated with The Vision Council's Market inSights Report.
The new estimates vary significantly from The Vision Council's prior estimates, which were based on its now discontinued VisionWatch market research report. For example, VM reported in March 2022 that the size of the U.S. optical retail industry was $45.83 billion over the 12-month period that ended in December 2021. 

The inSights report utilizes new data sources, advanced analytics, and rigorous methodology to present a summary of the vision care industry from 2019 to 2022, as well as a forecast for 2023. Detailed demographic data is also available in a special Market inSights+ edition.

Alysse Henkel, senior director of Market Research & Analytics, told VMAIL “Market inSights 2022 reflects The Vision Council’s commitment to providing excellence to our members and the industry. With the redesign of our market research program, we modernized our technology and diversified our data sources to improve the accuracy and breadth of our reporting.

“Using actual consumer retail expenditure (card spending) and anonymized patient billing and payment transactions, as well as results from our redesigned consumer survey, we created a methodology built on a foundational list of optical retail locations. This analysis offered us new perspectives into the optical industry, which led to the substantial changes you see in Market inSights 2022 compared to the retired VisionWatch reports.

“We recognized that our estimated size of the U.S. optical market changed significantly and provide documentation in the report about the steps taken to validate them. Additionally, we applied our updated methodology not only on 2022 data, but also on data from 2019, 2020 and 2021. Included in the 2022 report as a benchmark of consistency, the multi-year analysis shows the value of our investment in data sources and research technology, which we will continue to prioritize moving forward,” Henkel said.

According to Henkel, all data estimates and analysis referenced are indications of the U.S. optical industry only. Overall market retail value in this report encompasses both independent and corporate locations. The 48,000 optical retail location list is inclusive of both independent locations that dispense eyewear and provide exams and corporate optical locations.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the Market inSights 2022 Report:

  • Overall size of the optical retail industry was $76.5 billion.

  • More than 48,000 brick-and-mortar optical retail locations in business.

  • Lenses made up nearly one-third of the market with a value of $23.6 billion.

  • 98 million frames were sold for a total value of $12 billion.

  • Between patient spending and managed vision care reimbursements, $15.27 billion was spent on eye exams.

  • Sold online and in-person, contact lenses had a total value of $17.9 billion.

  • Plano sunglasses and readers totaled $7.6 billion, led by in-person sales.
Online sales are included in the overall market estimates and details about online sales market share by product is included in the report. The methodology for online sales calculations differs from in-person sales. In the Market inSights report, the classifications of independent, corporate, and online are mutually exclusive for frames, lenses, and contact lens product categories: independent and corporate shares represent all in-person transactions, and the online share represents all online transactions, regardless of retailer.

In the current methodology, the breakout for corporate and independent classifications is available for the prescription product categories. The non-prescription product categories of plano sunglasses and readers are available as in-person or online channels.

Sales of non-prescription products (plano sunglasses and readers) at non-optical locations are included in the market estimates in the report. The methodology for calculating non-prescription product sales is distinct from the prescription products.

The units for frames, lenses, plano sunglasses, and readers are pairs. The units for contact lenses are boxes.

Henkel said, “We are thrilled to release this first edition of Market inSights and to offer our members a report populated by unparalleled data and cutting-edge critical analysis. We’ve spent the last year building a new market model, collecting the latest data from multiple sources, creating a robust data infrastructure and fine-tuning our analytics and rigorous methodology.

“With market data estimates across specific categories—including exams, frames, lenses, contact lenses, plano sunglasses and readers—and a product-by-product forecast, these reports help members and the industry understand sales trends and make informed business decisions for the year ahead,” Henkel said.

Following a summary of the overall size and growth of the optical retail industry from 2019 to 2022, Market inSights reports on share of market and trends by the following categories: exams, frames, lenses, contact lenses, plano sunglasses and readers.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the Market inSights 2022 Report as it relates to volume versus value:

  • Lenses led the market by value followed by contact lenses and exams.

  • Readers, with an average price of $16, make up a small percentage of total value, however, by volume, they represent more than 10 percent of the market.

  • Frames have a very slight lead on readers in terms of volume while ranking closer to exams in value.

  • Contact lenses claim the largest share by volume, followed by exams which remain steady across both volume and value.

  • Plano sunglasses, with the second lowest average unit price of $52, hold less than 10 percent of value share, but equal lenses in volume.
Henkel told VMAIL, “The Market inSights Forecast 2023 predicts that the coming year will closely follow 2022 optical market results, in both market volume and market value across all products. The forecast is being released at the same time as the other Market inSights reports.”

Accessible online in The Vision Council’s Research Center, Market inSights—inclusive of the 2019-2022 Industry Report and 2023 Industry Forecast—is complimentary for members and available for purchase for non-members. Supplementary Market inSights+ reports containing demographic details by market share category are exclusively offered for purchase. Updates to all will be released on a quarterly basis.

Learn more about The Vision Council’s commitment to providing a comprehensive perspective on the state of the optical industry and access consumer survey reports and in-depth special reports on eyewear and eyecare products and topics on the inSights Research Program page.