Prescription wholesale labs today fulfill multiple roles: manufacturer, distributor and educator, and all-around problem solver being the primary ones. That makes labs invaluable to independent eyecare professionals, who rely on them for a wide range of products including lenses, frames, contact lenses, sunglasses, safety glasses and accessories, as well as technical support and information about new products.

Our annual Wholesale Lab Usage survey looks at many levels of the lab-ECP partnership, and offers insights and key metrics that can help you benchmark your practice or retail optical business. We’ve selected some of the most useful findings here. For a deeper dive into the survey data, contact Jobson Research.

–Andrew Karp

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  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents expect to do more business with wholesale labs in the coming year.
  • The majority of locations purchase surfaced lenses (94 percent) and safety glasses (77 percent) from their primary lab.
  • The factors that were rated “very important” in selecting a wholesale lab are based on the quality of services more so than the characteristics of the labs themselves (e.g., ownership).
  • The factors in selecting a lab considered very important by most are lens surfacing quality (91 percent), lens coating quality (90 percent) and lens finishing quality (90 percent).
  • The services provided most often by the respondent’s primary lab were lens product information (98 percent), technical support (97 percent) and online ordering (96 percent).


20/20’s Wholesale Lab Usage Survey 2019 was conducted during July 2019 by Jobson Optical Research’s in-house research staff. The sample of 289 respondents was derived from the proprietary Jobson Optical Research Database.
The 2019 survey was conducted online, and only eyecare professionals at independent locations (one, two or three affiliated practices) who use a wholesale lab for processing lenses or providing other eyewear products and services were qualified to complete the survey. Respondents to the survey were entered in a sweepstakes to win a $200 gift card.

Three years of data is shown for trending purposes. The 2017 survey was conducted online in June 2017. 265 respondents at optical retail locations completed the survey and were offered a chance to win a $200 American Express gift card as an incentive. The 2018 survey was conducted online in June 2018. 318 respondents at optical retail locations completed the survey and were offered a chance to win a $200 gift card as an incentive.

Jennifer Waller, 20/20 Research Director