Eye Exam Incidences Increasing Among U.S Population

During 2012, 43.8% of the US adult population received an eye exam—a total of over 105.4 million exams generating $5.26 billion in dollar revenue. The number of exams administered by independent ECP locations rose by 2.4% over the past year and by 12% over the past four years. Independent ECP locations administered 71.7 million adult exams during the 2012.  Conventional optical chains administered about 15.4 million adult eye exams during the 12ME period Dec12, up by 1.5% over the previous year, but flat from the number of exams administered before the recession when their optical sales business was strongest. A similar story exists for mass merchants and wholesale clubs who administered 12.5 million exams during the 12ME period December 2012.

There are many reasons why people get their eyes examined. For the 52 million people who went for en exam during the last six months of 2012, trying to maintain healthy vision and prevent vision problems before they start was the dominant reason why they went for an exam (30% of exam patients). A slightly smaller portion (29%) went to get an exam because they needed new eyeglasses or contact lenses. About one-seventh of all recent exam patients went for an exam because they were experiencing a vision problem and wanted to correct it and another 14% went because they received a reminder from their ECP. Over the past year it seems like more people went to get their eyes examined because they wanted to maintain healthy vision and/or because they received a reminder from their ECP. 

We estimate that close to 67 million adults have not had an eye exam within the past two years, including 6 million adults who have NEVER had an eye exam. Most of these folks are between the ages of 18 to 34, reside in lower-income households, do not have any type of managed vision care coverage and do not use any type of Rx vision correction. Generally, these 67 million people have not gone for an exam in the past couple years for one of three reasons: 1. they think an exam will cost too much, 2. they don’t think they have any vision problems or, 3. they are too busy.

Fortunately, for the optical industry, the number of people ignoring their vision problems and getting an eye exam is rising, thus contributing to the increasing number of eye exams we are seeing in the US. Moreover, our data shows that in addition to rising exam figures, the number of people making an eyewear purchase after their exam is also rising, which is helping to contribute to the strong industry growth in sales we saw in 2012. For the 12ME period December 2012 about 57.1% of all adult eye exams resulted in an eyewear purchase, generating 60.2 million transactions (mostly Rx eyeglasses and contact lenses). That is a vast improvement from 2009 when only 53.4% of all eye exams resulted in an eyewear purchase.

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