Analysis and Studies - Products analysis

Contact Lenses: a look at the market

Today, contact lenses have achieved widespread use and a high level of technology. They ensure complete, full-field visual perception and perfect peripheral vision; they are suitable for every corrective need and are comfortable, suitable for both daily use, from morning to evening, and occasional use, such as for a party, concert, special occasion, or aimed at a specific activity (sports, dance, gym). 

The first insight, about the possibility of creating a corrective lens that could be applied directly to the eyes, was an idea of Leonardo Da Vinci in 1508. The first prototype was invented in the 19th century. Made of glass, they were quite uncomfortable. Only in the middle of the 20th century were plastic lenses designed. These older hard-plastic contact lenses had a restricted wearing time due to the possibility of corneal discomfort. In the 1970s, contact lenses made of plastic gel were introduced. They allow oxygen to penetrate the eye surface, making them much more comfortable compared to the previous models.


Contact lenses were the 454th most traded product in the world in 2020, with a total value of $6.45 billion, accounting for 0.039 percent of total global commerce. Between 2019 and 2020, contact lens exports fell 12.1 percent, from $7.35 billion to $6.45 billion.

The top exporters of contact lenses in 2020 were Ireland ($1.42B), the United States ($954M), the United Kingdom ($784M), Germany ($755M), and Taiwan ($433M). Japan ($1.3 billion), the United States ($858 million), the United Kingdom ($548 million), Germany ($436 million), and China ($423 million) were the top importers. 




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