Latest VisionWatch Survey Shows Nearly $300 Million Growth for $40.4B Vision Care Industry

The latest numbers from The Vision Council’s VisionWatch survey released today, reflect that the overall vision care market grew 0.7 percent, or nearly $282 million, in the 12 months ending March 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 $40.36 billion in revenue for the 12 months ending March 2017.“We’ve seen a slowdown in growth in the industry as we look at the last year, from April 2016 through March 2017. Total dollar revenue for the industry grew by 0.7 percent—a continuation in the slowdown of industry growth that first started in late 2015,” said Steve Kodey, The Vision Council’s senior director of Industry Research.

The report indicates that 83.5 million pairs of lenses were sold in the U.S. for the 12 months ending March 2017—29,000 more pairs than the same period a year ago. Similar numbers are found for frames, with 74.4 million pairs of frames sold in the U.S. during that period, generating close to $9.71 billion in sales revenue. Sales of OTC Readers grew 2.5 percent, generating $876 million dollars with 52.09 million unit pairs sold.

Contact lenses have proven to be the strongest optical market for the 12 months ending March 2017, up 4 percent to $4.89 billion in revenue, followed closely by exams which are up 1.7 percent to $6.05 billion. The independent side of the optical industry is by far the largest component of the U.S. vision care industry—generating $18.43 billion in revenue for the 12 months ending March 2017. When compared to dollar revenues from a year ago, the independent side of the industry was up by 1.1 percent.

In one of the most striking figures coming from this quarter’s VisionWatch report, 45.4 percent of the U.S. adult population received an eye exam in the 12 months ending March 2017—a total of over 115 million exams generating $6.05 billion in dollar revenue. What’s more, 57.5 percent of those adults getting their eyes examined made an eyewear purchase as a result of that exam.

“Maintaining growth in exams has been a major factor driving growth in the industry, but an even bigger factor has been the willingness of consumers to go out and make a purchase after getting an exam. The current ‘purchase after exam’ ratio is down slightly but it is still as high as it was before the recession in 2008,” Kodey said.