ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council’s recently released quarterly VisionWatch market research report for Q3 of 2018, indicates a net increase of 1.9 million vision correction users year over year and $41.38 billion generated in retail revenues during the 12-month period ending in September 2018. “The third quarter continued to build on the sales growth increases we first observed one year ago. The annual revenue growth rate for the 12-month period ending September 2018 was 2.9 percent and generated $41.38 billion at the retail level,” said Steve Kodey, senior director of industry research. “This was the strongest annual growth we have observed since 2015,” he said.

“Sales of Rx lenses, contact lenses and over-the-counter readers were strongest during the 12-month period ending September 2018, thanks mostly to growing user bases across the U.S. population. In fact, much of the market growth we have seen in optical sales over the past year is the result of new users in the market—specifically we gained 1.9 million additional adult vision correction users in the U.S. during the 12-month period ending September 2018,” he added.

Independent eyecare providers represent the largest segment of the vision community and reported an increase in sales of 4.2 percent since September 2016. Despite this growth in revenue, the amount of consumers making purchases after receiving an eye exam remained flat.

As internet sales and services take the lead across consumer purchasing habits, VisionWatch examined their presence in the optical industry. Below are a few notable online sales findings that occurred during the 12-month period ending September 2018:

• Direct online purchase activity accounted for $2.1 billion of optical product sales at the retail
• More than 3.65 million pairs of prescription eyeglasses were purchased online, totaling about
4.9 percent of all prescription eyeglass purchases during that time.
• Roughly 7.9 million plano sunglasses were sold over the internet, totaling about 7.5 percent of all plano sunglass purchases during that time.

Additionally, optical sales over the past year have rebounded for conventional chains with a 1.8 percent increase following the strong sales activity in the first three quarters of 2018.

VisionWatch works to gauge the overall level of Managed Vision Care (MVC) coverage among the U.S. adult population to better gauge the MVC landscape. MVC highlights featured in the Q3 results are as follows:

• A 1 percent increase in MVC coverage, which totals a net growth of 1.2 million adults covered.
• An increase in coverage for the following groups: women over the age of 35, adults with higher annual household incomes and adults from the Midwest region of the U.S.

VisionWatch is an ongoing study that provides The Vision Council's members with exclusive insights into the optical marketplace’s current and historical trends, retailer shares, consumer traits and demographic breakdowns. For more information on The Vision Council’s VisionWatch reports, and for member access to the Q3 reports, visit