Companies in this industry perform routine eye exams, write prescriptions for corrective lenses, and diagnose and treat eye conditions. No major companies dominate the industry.
Demand is driven by demographics. The aging of the US population increases demand for eye exams and glasses. Eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma, which are often diagnosed by an optometrist but treated by an ophthalmologist, also increase with age. The profitability of optometrist practices depends on efficient operations and whether glasses and contact lenses are sold. Eyeglass purchases are mildly cyclical with the economy, as many consumers view extra glasses as an expense that can be deferred. The US industry is highly fragmented: the 50 largest US companies account for less than 10% of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Optometrists perform routine eye examinations, diagnose conditions including nearsightedness and farsightedness, and write prescriptions for glasses, contact lenses, and medications. Optometrists also may provide vision therapy, postoperative and preoperative care, and disease diagnosis. Complicated conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachments generally are referred to ophthalmologists. Optometrists hold doctor of optometry (OD) degrees. Only ophthalmologists are allowed to perform LASIK surgery (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) to correct vision defects.