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Mid-Year Exams Trend

During the 12ME June 2015, 45.7% of the US adult population received an eye exam (a total of over 112.6 million exams generating $5.78 billion in dollar revenue). Older Americans were more likely than younger Americans to have received an eye exam during the past year. In addition, Americans with MVC coverage were more than twice as likely to have had a recent exam than Americans without MVC.

Historically, the percentage of American adults receiving an eye exam has surged upward since the year 2000. In fact, when compared to the 12ME period December 2006 there was a net increase of 14.8 million adult exams conducted in the US over the 12ME June 2015.

The recent up-tick in exams has occurred among all demographics of the U.S. population. Specifically, growth in exams over the 12ME period December 2014 was strongest among men, Americans over the age of 45, Americans from higher-income households ($60K+), Americans from the Southeast region of the U.S. and Americans with some form of MVC coverage. These are the same groups that by and large are embracing different forms of vision correction more frequently (particularly eyeglasses and contact lenses).

During the 12ME period June 2015, about 58.0% of those adults getting their eyes examined made an eyewear purchase as a result of getting their eyes examined. That amounts to approximately 65.3 million transactions. Even though the number of exams had been increasing annually since 2008, the decline in people making a purchase after the exam has clearly off-set the increase in exam totals and led to a stagnation in the U.S. optical industry during the early part of the economic recovery. For instance the number of transactions/purchases as a result of getting an exam has actually increased by almost 4.8 million from the 12ME period December 2006 (right before the recession started) to the 12ME period June 2015—despite the fact that the overall number of exams has increased by almost 14.8 million during this same period of time. Fortunately, from late 2011 through mid-2015, the story has changed significantly. The number of optical industry transactions that occurred as a result of an eye exam increased significantly and fueled the unit and dollar growth that the industry saw in from 2011 through 2015. Revenues for the optical industry grew more during the 12ME period June 2015 than they did since 2007. As one might expect, eyewear purchase incidence after eye exams also increased more in 2015 (+4.0%) than it did in any year since 2007.

When looking at U.S. adults who never had an exam, 1.7% of women and 2.8% of men reported never having an eye exam. Additionally, younger people are not getting exams at significantly higher rates – as high as 4% for 18 to 24 year old group. Meanwhile, less than a half of one percent for the over 65 group is not receiving an eye exam. Of those U.S. adults who never had an eye exam, cost was the biggest issue for those over the age of 40 and for women. As for younger adults and men, the belief that they did not need an exam was the leading cause.

Data in this article was compiled from VisionWatch, the large scale continuous research study conducted by The Vision Council. VisionWatch contains useful industry data on lenses, frames, sunglasses, reading glasses, LASIK, contact lenses and eye exams. For additional information, please contact Brin Miller at 703-740-2251

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