In today’s information overloaded world, the last thing we need is to have a bunch of statistics thrown at us. Yet statistics, if properly presented, can clearly and simply illuminate some interesting facts.

That’s what we set out to do with our 2008 Premium Lens Study, the results of which you’ll find in this month’s L&T. As in previous years, we’ve asked a cross section of eyecare professionals to give us feedback about sales of the spectacle lens designs, materials and treatments they prescribe and dispense.

Although all of the results were interesting, I found some findings particularly valuable. For example, despite the current economic downturn, ophthalmic lenses are still driving sales upward. Seventy four percent of the retailers say that in 2007, spectacle lenses and treatments made up a larger percentage of their location’s total gross dollar sales than it did three years ago. This is up from 72 percent in 2006.

Lens sales are being driven by both younger and older eyeglass wearers, according to the survey results. Almost half the retailers said single-vision lenses made up a greater proportion of their total lens sales in 2007 than they had in 2006. Comparatively, 84 percent say progressive lens sales increased over the last year.

We also learned that 86 percent of retailers surveyed say that they had experienced an increase in AR lens sales as a proportion of total lens sales in 2007 versus 2006. Seventy three percent saw an increase in polarized lenses and 72 percent saw an increase in photochromic sales over the same period. Although many of the retailers say standard plastic lenses are still a big seller, the growth rate was higher with lenses made of polycarbonate, high-index or Trivex.

These results confirm what many of us already know:
consumers value high-performance lenses and are willing to pay for them, even when discretionary income is tight. Some may put off purchasing a new frame, but they continue to buy lenses simply because they need them.    

—Andrew Karp