The Future of Progressives and Free Form Lenses

It is bright we think, we talk to a lot of different people in the optical industry and have heard good things from our lens and equipment sponsors and optical practices working with new optical equipment, especially free form e.g. from our interview with Jervey Eye Group. But it is always reassuring to see assumptions backed up by statistics. This excerpt from The Vision Council’s 2012 Progressive Lens White Paper Report certainly backs it up. The demographics shown here are interesting too and helpful for marketing plans, especially advertising and promoting to the optical consumer.

Progressive lenses represent just over 27% (20.5 million pairs) of all lenses purchased in the U.S (December 2011 VisionWatch data). Prior to 2005, traditional bifocal/trifocal lenses outsold progressive lenses (at the retail level) and represented a larger portion of the total lens type mix. In 2005 however, the mix shifted in favor of progressives and the gap between the two has steadily been increasing since.

The diagram below shows some of the demographic differences between bifocal/trifocal users and progressive users:

All signs indicate that the future for progressives is bright—and the future of free form progressives is even brighter. We asked our lens experts at what point they believed free form would plateau (in other words what is the highest percentage of progressive lenses they believe will be produced with free form technology). They all believed that free from would eventually be the processing standard for the majority of progressive lenses—probably never all progressives but a very large amount such as 80%‐90%. Lens experts told us they believed that among all new progressive products released into the market, a high majority, if not all of them, will be free form designs. The quotes below show the predictions that industry experts referenced when speaking about what percentage of the total progressive market free form will eventually get to:

Another good sign for the progressive market is seen at the lab level as well. All labs that we surveyed said they have been producing more free form progressive lenses in 2011 than they were 2 years prior. Half of all lab respondents said they were producing 10% or more free form progressive lenses now than they were 2 years ago. This is a good indicator that progressive sales willcontinue to grow. As more and more labs and ECPs begin to replace their equipment, we will see a continued growth in free form sales as well. The majority of labs we surveyed that do not have free form equipment indicated that they planned to purchase free form equipment within the next 3 years.

Source: The Vision Council’s 2012 Progressive Lens White Paper Report

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  1. I really agree with “All signs indicate that the future for progressives is bright and the future of free form progressives is even brighter”. People are looking for glasses that will give them more comfort and correct vision. So, free from lenses is the future of eyewear.


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