I’ve been known to be a procrastinator, but never a prognosticator. However, I’m going
to make a few predictions for 2008.

1) Supplier-owned wholesale lab networks will continue to expand by acquisition. This is a pretty safe bet. A year from now, a Democrat may well be in the White House, and, with the backing of a Democratically controlled Congress, is likely to raise taxes. The next 12 months provide a window of opportunity for mergers and acquisitions.

2) Digitally surfaced lenses will gain a significant share of the market. The major lens companies are all promoting digitally surfaced products and many labs are installing the equipment to produce them. Even mass merchants such as Wal-Mart are eyeing this potentially lucrative market. Once the infrastructure is in place to produce and distribute these high-tech lenses on a broad scale and patent issues are resolved by the lens makers, the digital floodgates will open.

3) Eyewear will become more personalized than ever. Today, it’s possible to buy “bespoke” frames that are personalized to fit each wearer. In addition, dispensers are beginning to use special systems that measure patient eye and head movement, vertex distance and pantoscopic tilt and frame shape. Together, these two developments point the way toward a truly customized wearing experience.

Do any of you have predictions you’d like to share with L&T readers? If so, email me your thoughts and we’ll post them here next month.

Andrew Karp