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Mid-Year Rx Lens Trends

According to VisionWatch, there were 78.5M pairs of lenses sold in the US during the 12ME Jun’14 — more than the number of lenses sold one year ago (+1.3%) and up by 2.7% when compared to what was sold two years ago.  The number of lenses sold has increased by 3.7M pairs when compared to the number sold in the 12ME period Jun’08 before the recession set in and slowed sales through the entire optical industry. As always, the change in types of lenses sold in the US market continues to evolve.

Over the past 24 months, sales of progressive lenses have rebounded nicely. Sales have easily surpassed where they were before the recession, and should continue to grow faster over the coming years with the increasing popularity and functionality of free-form digitally surfaced progressive lenses. For the 12ME period Jun’14, progressive sales increased among men, Americans over the age of 55, progressive lens buyers from higher income households, progressive lens buyers with managed vision care coverage and progressive lens buyers from the Northeast region of the US.  The unit sales of progressive lenses in these demographics have all increased by 5% during the 12ME period Jun’14.

All in all, there were about 4.7 to 4.8M pairs of free form progressive lenses purchased by American consumers during the 12ME period Jun.’14. That is up by about 10.6% over the previous 12ME period—after growing at a slower rate for the previous two years. The increase in digitally surfaced free-form progressive lens sales means that the 10.6% growth rate during the 12ME period Jun’14 is significantly higher than total Rx lens sales, or traditional progressive lens sales, during the 12ME period Jun’14. In fact, sales of traditional, non-digital/free-form progressive lenses were up just 0.1%.  Men, who are less likely to buy progressive lenses in general, were actually more likely to buy progressive lenses produced with free form digital technology when compared to women. Moreover, younger progressive lens buyers were significantly more likely to buy free-form digitally surfaced progressive lens, when compared to consumers and eyeglass buyers over the age of 55.  This is despite the fact that buyers over the age of 55 still accounted for the lion’s share of both progressive purchases free-form progressive purchases.

As you might expect, people from higher income households ($60K+ annually) purchased a majority of the free-form digitally surfaced progressive lenses in the US during the 12ME period Jun’14 (about 71%). Moreover, a slight majority of free-form digitally surfaced progressive lens buyers possess and used managed vision care insurance benefits when last buying their free form progressives.

Recent growth of digital free-form progressive lenses was strongest among men, people from higher-income households, people from the Northeast region of the country and people who buy Rx lenses from independent eye care professionals.

Despite the higher prices associated with free-form digitally surfaced progressive lenses, it appears that customers appreciate the product and are happy with spending the extra money for free-form digitally surfaced progressive lenses. When compared to single vision and multifocal lenses, consumer purchase satisfaction rates are about 15% to 20% higher for consumers that buy progressive lenses. Satisfaction rates are even higher for free-form digitally surfaced progressive lenses with 88.8% of customers reporting being “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their recent free-form purchase. These strong satisfaction rates among recent consumers will only serve to bolster the sales and progress of free-form digitally surfaced progressive lens technology in the US market over the next 3 to 4 years. 

Even though progressive lenses sales saw the largest year-to-year growth in June (+2.0%); single vision lenses saw similar growth in sales over the past year (+1.8%).  During the 12ME period Jun’14 more than 40.2 million pairs of single vision lenses were sold, representing a “net increase” of 800K pairs when compared to sales metrics from the 12ME period June 2013. This is mostly attributable to increased single vision purchases by men, Americans over the age of 35, Americans from higher income households, Americans from the Southeast region of the country and Americans buying lenses from conventional chains, and mass merchants/wholesale clubs.

After enjoying a brief period of increasing sales and popularity during the recession, the multifocal market saw sales declines during the past four years. There were 15.2M pairs of multifocal lenses sold during the 12ME period Jun’14, which is down by 100K pairs over the number of multifocal sold during the 12ME Jun’13 period (-1.1%). Sales of multifocal lenses have been falling over the past year most among men, Americans under the age of 55, adults from higher-income households, residents of the Southeast US and people using managed vision care benefits when making an Rx lens purchase.

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 Rx lenses, ophthalmic frames, plano sunglasses, OTC reading glasses, LASIK, contact lenses and eye exams. For additional information, please contact Steve Kodey at 703-740-1095.

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