Americans overwhelmingly value their contact lenses and eyeglasses, despite inflationary pressures, according to the results of a new survey commissioned by the Contact Lens Institute. Respondents were asked to assign value to 26 different products and services including personal health, entertainment, clothing, dining, and other discretionary spending options. They ranked their contact lenses (84 percent) and eyeglasses (75 percent) as extremely or very important—more than any other category. U.S. consumers also indicated they would give up all other categories before their contact lenses and eyeglasses. When asked about how inflationary pressures had altered household spending, the two categories showing the least change were contact lenses (8 percent) and glasses (7 percent).

The research, which features select data spanning consumer trade-off preferences, spending shifts, and behavioral changes among contact lens wearers is part of its See Tomorrow initiative.

Citing some of the survey’s key findings, CLI said the U.S. eyecare industry—specifically contact lens and eyeglasses sales—is showing strong resiliency in the face of economic challenges. Fewer than 1 in 10 U.S. residents are reducing spending on contact lenses (8 percent) and prescription eyeglasses (7 percent) in the face of inflation—among the most resilient of all surveyed categories, according to CLI.

“The message is clear—eyecare professionals should not be shy about prescribing the best vision correction for patients, including contact lenses, even in challenging economic times,” said Charissa Lee, OD, FAAO, a CLI board member. “Consumers are very willing to pay for what they value, which is healthy eyesight. Practices should make sure their entire staff understands this, so they don’t inadvertently compromise their patients’ experiences.”

Respondents were queried how their contact lens habits might shift when under financial pressure. While approximately one in four adults said nothing would vary (27 percent), about the same percentages noted they might wear lenses less frequently (30 percent) and seek less expensive options online (27 percent) and through their eyecare professional (26 percent). A smaller number reported they would contemplate actions that could put their eye health at risk, such as wearing their lenses for more days than approved (24 percent) and “topping off” cleaning solution (12 percent).

Considering these possible changes, CLI said the eyecare community must prepare for contact lens behavior changes. U.S. adults may alter their contact lens behaviors to save money—which eyecare practices can anticipate and address to ensure an optimal wearing experience. The organization urged eyecare professionals to get ahead of these potential behavioral shifts by proactively advising contact lens patients not to make changes to their regimen. They recommended use of The EASY Way, a collection of free practice tools from the Contact Lens Institute to communicate healthy contact lens wear-and-care through three easy steps.

An extensive report with additional reporting categories and analysis will be published in October 2022 and available from Online fieldwork was undertaken August 9-17, 2022, among 251 active contact lens wearers, screened from 2,439 total U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

The Contact Lens Institute advances the latest innovations in safe and effective contact lens and lens care products and services that provide unique benefits to patients while satisfying the evolving needs of eyecare professionals. CLI undertakes activities that properly assess, enhance, promote and balance contact lens and lens care industry welfare and growth, including the safe use of products in the marketplace. Its members include Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, and Johnson & Johnson Vision.