Mid-Year 2017 Optical Markets Slowing but Still Growing, VisionWatch Says


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The latest numbers from The Vision Council’s VisionWatch survey released yesterday, reflect that the overall vision care market grew 0.2 percent, or nearly $85.7 million, in the 12 months ending June 2017, compared to the same period the prior year. Results from VisionWatch, the largest continuous survey of consumer purchasing attitudes toward eyewear and eyecare, indicated that the total vision care industry has generated $40.17 billion in revenue for the 12 months ending June 2017.

Looking at the vision care industry market over the past year, from June 2016 to June 2017, the report indicates that eyeglasses accounted for the largest share of the vision correction market at 55.6 percent, representing $22.32 billion in revenue.

“Contact lenses have proven to be the strongest optical market over the 12-month period, with revenue up 3.1 percent to $4.89 billion,” said Steve Kodey, The Vision Council’s senior director of Industry Research. “96.1 million contact lens purchases occurred, up 1.9 percent over last year. This was followed closely by sunglasses, which are up 1.9 percent to $4.21 billion. Some 103.85 million pairs of sunglasses were sold—the same number of units sold in the previous year. Eye examinations have also seen growth. All other markets are currently flat or contracting slightly over the past couple years,” he said.

The independent side of the optical industry is by far the largest component of the U.S. vision care industry—generating $18.3 billion in revenue over the 12-month period. When compared to dollar revenues from a year ago, the independent side of the industry was up by 0.4 percent. While eyeglass sales—both lenses and frames—make up the bulk of revenue for independent optical outlets, examinations are a close third with over $4.22 billion in revenue.

Additionally, for that time period, almost 115 million adult eye exams were performed, generating $5.99 billion in revenue. Older Americans were more likely than younger Americans to have received an eye exam during this time frame, and Americans with managed vision care coverage were more than twice as likely to have had an exam as Americans without coverage.

Sales of OTC Readers grew 1.9 percent, generating $885 million dollars with 51.76 million unit pairs sold in the past year—up by 0.1 percent, with a 0.7 percent increase in revenue.

Holding steady with the same number of units sold in the previous year, 83.34 million pairs of lenses were sold in the last year. 74.34 million pairs of frames were sold—a unit decrease of less than 0.1 percent from the previous year, but with a 0.1 percent revenue increase due to an increase in as average selling prices, generating close to $9.71 billion in sales revenue.

Lastly, 885,000 refractive surgeries were performed—a decrease of 1.8 percent from the previous year, resulting in a 1.2 percent decrease in revenue.