Good News in the Numbers


Good News in the Numbers

I’ve never been a math whiz. To tell the truth, numbers and I have never quite gotten along. Ever since flunking ninth grade algebra, and then almost flunking it again in summer school, I’ve kept a safe distance from anything vaguely numeric.

Yet the numbers in our new Premium Lens Study are so compelling even I had to take a closer look. The results of this annual study, detailed in this month’s Lens Trends feature beginning on page 67, illuminate some interesting and encouraging lens and technology trends.

For example, most of the ECPs who participated in the survey said spectacle lenses and treatments made up a larger percentage of their total gross dollar sales than last year. Two-thirds said Rx sun lens sales are up in dollars versus three years ago.

Given the size and strength of the presbyope patient population, it’s not surprising that progressive lens unit sales remained strong. However, sales of short-corridor progressives designed for small frames, although still solid, fell slightly in 2005. Thirty-seven percent of retailers said short corridor lenses were a significant percentage (more than half) of their progressive lens pair sales, down from 45 percent last year. That makes sense to 20/20’s senior editor and resident fashion maven Gloria Nicola, who notes that frame styles are getting slightly larger.

The survey respondents seem to have a high awareness of new lens technologies. For instance, just over half the respondents said they are familiar with the term “personalized progressive,” while 49 percent are familiar with the term “freeform.”

The respondents had good awareness not only of some of the latest advanced PAL technologies, but the latest lens materials as well. Two-thirds said their sales of polycarbonate lenses had grown this year, and 43 percent said sales of lenses made from PPG’s Trivex material had increased. But the largest gain over the previous year was high-index lenses, for which 69 percent of retailers had experienced an increase in sales over the past year versus 57 percent the prior year. Perhaps best of all, 89 percent of retailers surveyed said they had experienced an increase in AR lens sales as a proportion of total lens sales in 2005 versus 2004. Seventy-three percent saw an increase in polarized lenses and 66 percent saw an increase in photochromic sales over the same period.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a math whiz to understand these numbers. They confirm that most doctors and dispensers are doing a good job presenting high-performance lens products to their patients. That’s the kind of news we like to hear at L&T.

Andrew Karp,