NEW YORK—The percentage of American adults receiving an eye exam has surged upward since the year 2000, reaching a total of over 110.6 million exams among the U.S. adult population for the 12-month period ending December 2014, according to The Vision Council's senior director of industry research, Steve Kodey, in a recent VisionWatch report released during Vision Expo East. That represents 44.7 percent of the U.S. adult population. They generated $5.74 billion dollars in revenue last year.

While the number of eye exams has been on the increase, the market share of those eye exams among independents, conventional chains, and mass merchandising chains/warehouse clubs has remained nearly the same over the past four years, as the chart indicates.

The recent uptick in exams has occurred among all demographics of the U.S. population. Specifically, growth in exams over the 12 months ending December 2014 was strongest among men, Americans under the age of 45, Americans from lower-income households (up to $60,000), Americans from the SE and MP regions of the U.S. and Americans with some form of managed vision care coverage. These are the same groups that by-and-large are embracing different forms of vision correction more frequently (particularly eyeglasses and contact lenses.)

Eye Exams: Millions of Adult Annual Exams By Channel

Source: International Vision Expo East Statistics Committee Presentation 2015/VisionWatch, the large scale continuous research study conducted by The Vision Council with approximately 110,000 respondents. Mass Merchandisers are made up of Walmart, Target, and optical departments in other mass merchandisers (such as Shopko) as well as wholesale clubs such as Costco, Sam's, BJ's, and other (smaller) wholesale club retailers. Conventional Chains are made up of 55 chains with more than ten locations that are not a mass merchandiser, wholesale club, or department store.