You don’t need a data scientist to figure out that there are millions of people in America who wear glasses or need vision correction. What is helpful to know – or rather, crucial to know and act on – has to do with who sports spectacles, how they are receiving eye care, and interest in innovations in the industry, such as anti-fatigue lenses. Here’s a look at three key insights from the CivicScience InsightStore:

Eye Exams: In-person and Virtual

CivicScience polling for the month of August shows that 80% of U.S. adults have had their eyes examined in the last two years and 73% plan to visit an eye doctor within the next 12 months (n=12,000+). Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults wear prescription glasses (n=2,400+). It’s clear that vision correction is a significant aspect of American lives.

There are three major locations consumers visit to have their eyes examined: private or independent eye doctors, specialty opticals like LensCrafters, and Walmart. More than half of those who have had their eye exams in the last two years have visited an independent or private eye doctor. Visits to Walmart’s optics centers are close to double that of Target or Costco.

Only 4% of respondents selected ‘online eye exam’ as the last place they had their eyes checked. While not too surprising, considering online eye exams became more widespread during the pandemic times, the data supporting virtual eye care and appointments are promising. Firstly, positive experiences with online eye exams increased by 21% according to CivicScience polling which compared data from late 2020 and data from August 2023. Secondly, overall experience using tele-optometry services increased from 5% in August 2020 to 10% today, as awareness greatly increased.

To top it all off, twice as many people now compared to 2020 say virtual eye appointments are just as good as in-person appointments (n=2,900). 

Shopping for glasses online is a more common virtual eye care occurrence. Nearly 1-in-5 U.S. adults buy glasses from sites like Warby Parker or Zenni Optical, while 12% intend to (n=23,000+). Neither usage of these sites nor interest has fluctuated in the last year, but both are driven by consumers under age 35. Online eyewear is here to stay but might grow slowly as younger generations begin squinting to read text messages.

Vision Insurance and Spending

More than half of U.S. adults say they have vision insurance, with 43% using it to cover eye appointments and prescription glasses, and 8% who say they will get it soon (excluding those uncertain of their insurance status). Interestingly, 12% of respondents indicated they do have vision insurance but they don’t use it.

CivicScience data found that having unused vision coverage correlated with receiving health insurance through an employer (78% have vision insurance). It’s likely that adding on vision “just in case” is a minimal expense. Apart from those without health insurance, respondents who pay for their health insurance themselves are the least likely to carry vision insurance (at just 37%).

Blue Light and Anti-fatigue Lenses

While it’s hard to say if blue light glasses work to reduce eye strain from computer use or improve sleep and eye health, CivicScience data show that interest in blue light blocking glasses is not fading. Despite a host of research debunking the effectiveness of blue light blocking glasses, consumers are still into them – albeit not a huge number in the first place (20%), but ownership has doubled since 2019.

Anti-fatigue lenses, a newer option for people experiencing eye strain, provide vision support for heavy screen use. When surveyed about awareness and usage, 14% of U.S. adults own a pair and 11% intend to own them. These percentages aren’t too far behind those of blue light glasses, suggesting these lenses could become just as popular, if not more so.

Consumers have their preferences for eye exams, appointments, and where they buy their frames. In an increasingly screen-oriented society with online retailers vying for more customers, it’s critical to stay ahead of the game.

Stay up-to-date on all vision and health care trends with the InsightStore – get in touch to learn more.