What was once only used to aid vision became a fashion accessory. Along with sunglasses, eyewear is a physical need of many while also being a part of personal style.
The latest eyewear industry statistics will show you how the industry continues to grow as so many people depend on wearing various types of glasses. You’ll also learn how the pandemic affected the industry and whether the eyewear market has managed to adapt to the online retail world. Let’s dig right in.
Top Eyewear Industry Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- More than 4 billion people worldwide wear different types of glasses.
- The global eyewear market size reached $146.9 billion in 2021.
- With $23.8 billion in eyewear, the US is the leading country regarding eyewear market revenue.
- More than 75% of the population now have CVS (computer eye syndrome).
- Approximately 75% of people use vision correction products, and 64% of them wear glasses.
- Most eyewear industry workers are women, but men take most CEO positions.
- Almost half of adults browse the internet before purchasing an eyewear product.
- We are still 5–10 years away from the widespread use of smart glasses.
Essential Eyewear Industry Trends to Know in 2022
1. More than 4 billion people worldwide wear some type of glasses.
Whether we’re talking about glasses for vision correction purposes, reading glasses, or sunglasses, more than half of the world’s population relies on them at some point. If you think that the number of eyewear users is high because sunglasses are such a popular product, you might be surprised to learn how high the number of people wearing glasses is.
2. 75% of people use vision correction products, while 64% wear glasses.
Even though vision correction now involves a variety of products, eyewear industry stats show that glasses are still the most used type of eyewear. Aside from vision correction, sunglasses are still a very common style choice, as 85% of the population wears them occasionally.
3. The global eyewear market size reached $146.9 billion in 2021.
The eyewear market includes all the following products—spectacles, lenses, sunglasses, and other various eyewear or eye care products. The market has been steadily rising with fantastic predictions. It’s expected to reach $197.2 billion by the end of 2027.
4. 61% of the eyewear industry workers are women.
(The Vision Council)
According to The Vision Council, the eyewear (and eyecare) industry is made of the following segments—corporate eye care and retail, independent eye care and retail, suppliers and manufacturers, academia, and other smaller segments.
Across all these segments, male workers make up 38% of all people employed. The eyewear industry analysis from The Vision Council also showed that the industry seems to value experience very highly, as 41% of employees have 10+ years of experience.
This gender distribution is likely to continue, as 67% of students in the field are women. However, this doesn’t mean women occupy leading and executive positions.
5. 61% of the eyewear industry CEOs and other leaders are men.
(The Vision Council)
Positions of authority in the industry are predominantly occupied by men between 50 and 59 years old. This is the case with most industries, especially with service and care sectors that mainly employ women, but men are more likely to take decision-making roles.
6. Eyeglasses have an eyewear industry market share of 55%.
Simple eyeglasses are often called “spectacles” in the eyewear industry, and they always make up the largest share of the market. In 2020, spectacles sales made more than a half of the market, continuing the increase in revenue in recent years. The sales of spectacles are expected to continue to rise, including contact lenses and sunglasses.
One of the reasons is the time users spend looking at various screens. The pandemic contributed largely to this habit, along with the popularity of online learning. This is why many users develop “computer eye syndrome.”
7. “Computer eye syndrome (CVS)” affects 75% of computer users.
(University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, All About Vision)
Optical industry statistics show that up to 90% of computer users develop CVS at some point. On average, we blink 66% less when looking at computer screens. This is the main cause of CVS, resulting in symptoms like eye-dryness, fatigue, blurry vision, headaches, and others. These symptoms are especially prevalent among computer users older than 40.
Eye care is crucial for managing symptoms. So, besides lubricating eyes, many experts now recommend eyeglasses with special lenses neutralizing the blue light emitting from computer screens—the so-called anti-glare glasses.
8. 70% to 90% of the population in some Asian countries have myopia.
Experts predict that the eyewear industry growth will increase the most in the Asia-Pacific region. Not only did eyeglasses move from function to fashion, making eyewear products more desirable, but these countries also have very high myopia rates, which makes glasses with corrective lenses necessary for many people.
Eyewear Industry Statistics: Trends and Sales in 2020 and 2021
9. The US is the leading country regarding eyewear market revenue.
In 2021, the total global eyewear revenue in the US was $28.3 billion, making the country number one in revenue worldwide. Second-ranked is China with $13.3 billion, followed by Germany ($8 billion), France ($6.9 billion), and Japan ($6.6 billion). When compared, it’s clear that the US eyewear market size is the largest one in the world.
10. On average, consumers spend $28.91 on a pair of sunglasses.
(The Vision Council)
In 2020, 50.8% of consumers spent less than 30$ on a pair of sunglasses. While we’re still waiting for the data from 2021, it’s best to look at previous years for more accurate information on spending habits.
The eyewear industry analysis from The Vision Council shows that, in the last decade, around 75% of buyers have fit in the lowest spending bracket (no more than 30$). For example, 75.7% spent even less in 2019. In addition, only 14.3% of buyers went for sunglasses over $100.
11. Kering and Luxottica Group are the world’s top eyewear manufacturers.
These two companies dominate the eyewear market. Kering was worth $101.1 billion in January 2022 (approximately $11 billion more compared to 2020), while Luxottica reached $89.0 billion, which is also an increase of a staggering $22 billion compared to 2020. These companies are also ranked among the top 200 world’s companies in all product categories, thanks to their performance in the eyewear market in 2022.
12. Vision Source is the biggest US optical retailer.
While Luxottica is the world’s largest eyewear manufacturer, it’s “only” the second-largest retailer in the US. Vision Source has the largest eyewear market share and revenue of $2.5 billion. The third-largest retailer is National Vision with $1.7 billion, while the fourth and fifth places belong to retail corporations Walmart ($1.5 billion) and Costco ($1.1 billion).
13. The vision care market declined by 14.2% in 2020.
An eyewear industry report on the effects of the pandemic shows that the vision care market took a significant hit in the first two-quarters of the 2020 pandemic. However, by the third quarter of 2020, the market started to recover as consumers continued the purchases they might have initially postponed because of the pandemic. For example, the sales of frames in the US increased by 3.5% compared to the third quarter of 2019.
14. Refractive surgeries and plano sunglasses took the largest dip during the pandemic.
(The Vision Council)
Refractive surgeries have been one of the top trends in the eyewear industry in the last decade. However, compared to 2019, they garnered 22% less revenue—$1.5 billion in contrast to $1.9.
For plano sunglasses (regular sunglasses without corrective lenses), the dip was similar—22.1% less, or $3.4 billion compared to $4.3 billion. All other products and services took a dip, except for contact lenses that grew by 1.1% and made $5.5 billion in revenue.
15. The market of prescription (Rx) sunglasses will reach a value of $14 billion by 2027.
Eyewear industry facts show that there are two general types of sunglasses—basic or plano sunglasses (your regular sunglasses without corrective lenses) and prescription or Rx sunglasses made with individually-adjusted prescription lenses. In fact, the market for the latter is continually expanding. In 2020, the market value was $8.5 billion, but it is expected to increase by a whopping $5.6 in the next seven years.
16. Purchases of VR and AR headsets went up by 50% in 2020.
However, eyewear industry stats show this increase was below the pre-pandemic prediction of up to 80%. The industry reached the global market value of $12 billion, but experts note we’re still not close to widespread purchases of headsets. Until then, their market is mostly an enterprise niche market.
Eyewear Industry Trends in Online Retail
17. In 2020, 8.57 million eyeglasses were sold online.
The online eyewear market is expanding as manufacturers and sellers keep making it easier for buyers to get the right optical lenses. In 2020, 12.9% of all lenses and frames were sold online. Interestingly, consumers are less likely to buy sunglasses online as 10.4% (8.3 million pairs) of all sunglasses were purchased in online stores.
18. Zenni Optical holds almost 50% of the online eyewear market.
(The Business Desk)
Eyewear industry data statistics show that Zenni Optical has made quite a splash. In fact, its website offers a full service of developing prescription glasses. Moreover, its customers can upload their medical records, pick among many spectacles and types of lenses, and have their glasses delivered at a significantly lower price than branded eyeglasses.
19. Only 6.4% of online eyewear buyers report they aren’t satisfied with their glasses.
(The Vision Council)
Online retailers can offer some of the top eyewear brands or go with cheaper solutions, giving great variety to their customers. Still, it’s a somewhat popular opinion that buying prescription eyeglasses online involves technical issues with dimensions and lenses.
However, the report from The Vision Council proves the contrary—55.9% of buyers report they’ve had an excellent experience with the purchase, and 37.6% described their experience as “good.” The report compares these satisfaction levels with those of buying eyeglasses at physical retailers and concludes they mostly align.
20. 28.8% of buyers report they avoid purchasing eyeglasses online because they can’t try them and sample frames.
(The Vision Council)
Eyewear industry facts show that physical retailers are still important for almost a third of buyers who prefer to try on glasses before the purchase. Despite the technological advances of online retailers, like the 3D try-on method, these buyers still like the feel of visiting the store and making a decision there (25.2% report they enjoy this experience).
There are also other reasons buyers avoid online purchases. According to eyewear industry statistics in the US, 24.9% already know the type of glasses they’re buying, and they simply do so at the physical retailer, while 12.4% report they have a trusted and established relationship with their retailer and don’t want to change that.
21. Up to 46.4% of adults search the internet before buying eyewear.
(The Vision Council)
No matter if they make the actual purchase online or at a physical retailer, many buyers search the internet for price comparison and reviews before deciding to purchase eyeglasses (42.7%), sunglasses (46.4%), or contact lenses (45.7%). It’s clear that online presence is an important factor in competitive trends in the eyewear industry.
An exception is buyers looking to purchase OTC (over-the-counter) reading glasses—only 32.8% of them will consult websites before the purchase. These buyers are likely to be men aged 18–34 who live in a higher-income household ($75k+).
22. 38.8% of eyewear buyers use an internet search engine when browsing for products.
(The Vision Council)
Social media is an important tool in targeting buyers. However, eyewear buyers are very unlikely to search social media when purchasing a product. In fact, most will start with a simple keyword search and continue to different websites from there.
The next in line of online popularity are websites of known retailers. Eyeglasses statistics on customer habits show that 33.3% of buyers go straight to these sites to look for advice or information before purchase.
23. Women account for 54.3% of the audience for sunglasses online ads.
Eyeglasses statistics show that style is crucial when it comes to advertising sunglasses. Data suggests that women are the dominant audience. On the other hand, men make up 45.7% of the total ad audience. Moreover, the largest age group in the audience (including both genders) are the people aged 25–34 (37.8%).
Most of the audience is single—40.4%. Considering the fact that about 40% of the population doesn’t wear sunglasses, these findings are only basic directions for strategizing future advertising campaigns.
24. The widespread use of smart glasses is 5–10 years away.
Smart glasses have been one of the most desired eyewear industry trends and technological innovations in the 21st century. Still, their widespread market adoption hasn’t happened yet. As a result, many tech giants invested serious money in their development.
For example, Microsoft has received $479 million to develop 100,000 prototypes for the US government, Lenovo is preparing to launch its first-ever model, and Google’s cheapest model costs $999.
However, experts note we’re not close to seeing consumers running to grab any of these models as people still think wearing smart glasses is “weird.” No matter how technologically advanced, eyeglasses are a stylistic choice, much more than other devices we use.
Eyewear Industry Statistics — Conclusion
The eyewear industry is doing better than ever; not even a pandemic managed to cause a serious ripple. As we’ve seen in this report, the industry continues to grow and find new ways to offer its products. Moreover, it’s clear that the industry is on the brink of shifting most of its retail business online.
With more people being affected by medical conditions, especially with CVS, it’s hard to imagine that the medical need for eyewear is going to wane anytime soon. The US market is the leading one globally and, according to predictions, this is likely to remain a fact. We’ll stay tuned for changes and new data on the industry developments.
How many people wear glasses?
There are over 4 billion people in the world who wear at least some type of glasses. The Vision Council, whose members produce about 90% of lenses in the US, reports that 194.1 million adults in the US are vision correction users. Out of those, 164 million wear eyeglasses, and 32.6 million rely on over-the-counter reading glasses.
Additionally, 218 million adults wear non-prescription sunglasses. It’s estimated that about 85% of the population are glasses users, whether for vision correction or style reasons. Moreover, up to 70% of the population wears some type of glasses in Europe. Countries with the smallest number of people who wear glasses are Estonia and Turkey (only 20% of the population).
How profitable is the eyewear industry?
The eyewear industry continues to be a lucrative one, as more than 4 billion people globally wear at least some type of eyewear. In addition, with CVS (Computer Eye Syndrome) on the rise, the need for eyewear will most likely continue to grow. It’s estimated that 75% of all computer users have the syndrome, and anti-glare glasses can be crucial in relieving the symptoms.
Currently, the global eyewear industry is worth $140 billion. However, the industry analysis predicts that it will make a yearly revenue of $197.2 billion by the end of 2027.
What is the target audience for sunglasses?
Among all other eyewear products, sunglasses make up 13% of the eyewear market. Although that doesn’t sound much, sunglasses still bring significant revenue; $4.1 billion in the 2020 US market, to be exact. The target audience can be found in all age groups, as about 80% to 90% of adults wear them. However, women are more dominant as they’re 75% more likely to purchase them.
Who is the largest eyewear manufacturer?
The world’s largest eyewear manufacturer is Luxottica Group. The company manufactures and sells eyewear from more than 20 top-notch designer brands like Chanel and Burberry, but it also sells brands like Ray-Ban. Moreover, the company distributes its products across more than 7.000 stores worldwide.
In 2021, the company was worth $87.3 billion and ranked among the top 200 world companies. As you’ve seen in our review of the latest eyewear industry statistics, online manufacturers are very present on the market. However, Zenni Optical leads the way with more than 50% of total market sales volume.