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US eyewear industry driven by the growth of contact lenses

Alex De Angelis

The US eyewear industry has been forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.57% through to 2016, driven by the high prevalence of eyesight disorders, and the trend of using contact lenses for aesthetic and cosmetic purposes.

After suffering three consistent years of value sales declines, the eyewear market in the US began to emerge from the depths of the economic recession in 2011 and 2012. While the economy remains weaker than it was before the recession, GDP growth, a declining unemployment rate, and rising levels of consumer confidence led consumers to once again invest in vision correction products.

At the same time, innovative new product launches and pent-up consumer demand to update the style and prescription of their spectacles has helped retail value sales of eyewear to finally return to their pre-recessionary levels in 2012.

Contact lenses once again outperformed spectacles in 2012, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for many years. Americans are increasingly turning to contact lenses as their primary form of vision correction for reasons ranging from comfort and convenience to cosmetic appeal and practicality in athletics.

The market has witnessed increased demand for contact lenses as they are increasingly viewed as a style statement. The emerging trend of wearing fashionable and coloured contact lenses is popular among teenagers as well as adults.

To capitalize on this demand, vendors in the market are currently developing various types of coloured contact lenses with additional features such as teardrop effects and lenses that can project three shades of colours.

In addition, the demand for disposable contact lenses and specialty contact lenses that can make a person's eyes look bigger and shinier have attracted customers to a considerable extent.

Some companies, like Luxottica, remain focused on the manufacture of spectacle frames and sunglasses, while others, like Essilor, specialise in creating innovative spectacle lenses.

The competitive landscape for contact lenses is also entirely distinct, as there is no major player in any category that also manufactures another type of eyewear product - including market leader Johnson & Johnson.

For this reason, while a company may dominate a particular segment of the eyewear market, no single player stands out across eyewear as a whole.

Key players currently dominating the eyewear market include Costco Wholesale Corp., Luxottica Group SpA, Safilo S.p.A., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

For more information on the US eyewear market, see the latest research: Eyewear Market Research

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