The eyewear industry manifests itself in products which one wears to protect the eyes, correct vision or simply for fashion purposes. The demand for eyewear is increasing globally, mainly due to awareness following regular checkups and examinations, but also because of the growing ageing levels among the European population.
The increasing demand for eyewear is obvious when looking at eyewear market value in Western Europe. While in 2012 market value amounted to approximately 2.8 billion euros, in 2016 it increased to roughly 3.1 billion euros. Furthermore, it is estimated that this figure will continue growing, amounting to 3.2 billion euros in 2017. Eyewear market value in Eastern Europe showed an even stronger growth. In 2016, it amounted to 3.8 billion euros, and it was estimated to rise up to 4.1 billion euros in 2017. The percentage of people wearing spectacles reflects the market value growth in Eastern Europe. With 85 and 70 percent respectively, Slovakia and Serbia are the two countries with the highest share of people wearing glasses in 2017.
However, new technology pushed the industry to a new level and provided the consumer with alternatives to glasses. Contact lenses became a key product of the eyewear industry. Nevertheless, the share of people wearing contact lenses in Europe is substantially lower than the ones who wear spectacles. Slovakia, Cyprus and Latvia have the highest percentage of people wearing contact lenses, at 15 percent each.
Besides its medical function, the appearance and design of eyewear is valued just as much. Luxottica, a market leader in the design and manufacture of eyewear, includes iconic luxurious brands within its portfolio, such as Ray-Ban or Michael Kors. Looking at the global net sales of Luxottica, they nearly doubled between 2007 and 2016, from approximately 4.9 to 9.1 billion euros.
Those involved with the eyewear industry see a market with growth and potential. However, other options are also available to the consumer, such as eye surgery, a permanent alternative to wearing contact lenses or eye spectacles. Despite the fluctuation in the number of LASIK surgeries in Europe, it is estimated that the number of eye surgeries will rise again from 2016. The eyewear industry continues to contribute to medical progress through developing new insights and strategies.
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