Peeking into the Eyewear Industry’s Future

Big changes are coming for the eyewear industry.  Best known for supplying prescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses, this massive market category also includes specialized eyewear intended for fashion, gaming, sports, and workplace safety.  And it’s growing fast; predictions have the global market reaching a value of $172 billion by 2028, up from $115 billion in 2021.  The big factors driving this growth are changes in consumer behavior and technological innovations made by eyewear providers.

Consumers are buying more eyeglasses than before.  Instead of one pair every 3 years, many are purchasing several pairs in the same year.  Roughly 126 million Americans wear eyeglasses, and getting a new pair costs an average amount of $576 when the cost of an eye exam is included.  One reason for the uptick in purchasing relates to working from home.  A rise in computer vision syndrome caused by excessive blue light exposure (the kind of light inside most electronic devices) has led to demand for blue light filtering glasses.  More generally, people who stare at a computer all day tend to notice changes in their vision needs faster than individuals who don’t.

Because buying more often is expensive, savvy consumers are looking for ways to skirt costs.  Some smart customers have discovered they can buy replacement lenses instead of purchasing a whole new pair of glasses every time they need one.  The average pair of single vision lenses is only $126 of the $576 total listed above.  Thow who buy bifocals or trifocals have to pay more, but they still save money in comparison.  Beyond monetary benefits, replacement lenses allow customers to maintain the style they have with their current frames instead of committing to a change in their look.  Glasses outline a person’s eyes, making them a noticeable addition to any outfit a person wears.

On the provider side, more technology is being added to eyeglasses than ever before.  Consider the blue light filter discussed earlier.  That is only one of the variety of lens coatings offered to people who wear glasses.  Other types include UV protection, anti-reflection, scratch resistance, and anti-fog.  Anti-fog sounds especially appealing since 2020, when people wearing masks and glasses together had to constantly deal with fogging.  For those who prefer contacts, light adaptive lenses are growing in popularity because they help reduce dryness and irritation. 

Going a step beyond lens filters, providers are working to develop specialized eyewear for those who suffer medical conditions.  Namely, they want to create migraine glasses to help with light sensitivity.  Electronic focusing glasses are already on the market for those who would benefit from them, but they remain outside the price range of most consumers.  

Coming soon, tech companies are working to add smart glasses to their repertoire of revolutionary devices.  Once a product of science fiction’s imagination, smart glasses will be able to place augmented screen’s in their user’s field of vision.  They will provide information outside the wearer’s direct line of sight to minimize distraction.  The future is now.

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