Published in Research

The Vision Council reports US consumers' prescription purchase choices

This is editorially independent content
4 min read

The Vision Council (TVC) is introducing key findings from its latest inSights Research Program report on U.S. consumers’ experiences and preferences for purchasing new prescription-based vision correction lenses.

To offer additional insight into the report, Glance President Jaclyn Garlich, OD, FAAO, spoke with TVC’s Alysse Henkel, vice president, Research and inSights.

First things first: talk about this research program.

Launched in May 2022, TVC’s inSights Research Program was established to deliver all-new reports developed from updated data sources and methodologies on the following:

  • Consumer insights
  • Eyecare provider (ECP) insights
  • Focused insights
  • Industry data insights
  • Market insights

The program is intended to provide “ timely data and analysis in an accessible, flexible format” via the use of a modern analytics platform. Click here to download an overview, and here for an introductory webinar on it.

Gotcha. Now let’s talk about this report.

Based on data from over 120,00 surveys conducted by TVC over the last 2 years (January 2022 to December 2023), Focused inSights 2024 Frame Trends zeroes in on diversity among consumers when it comes to their eyewear preferences and purchase behaviors.

Translation: The report “dives into detail about how online shoppers differ from in-person shoppers when it comes to buying their eyewear online,” Howell told Glance.

What are the key takeaways?

Howell noted four major findings from the data:

  1. Most prescription glasses are still bought in person; however, online purchases account for an estimated 15% of the market
  2. More non-prescription items such as reading glasses and sunglasses are bought online, with rates around 80% and 77%, respectively
  3. Contact lenses have a higher rate of online purchases at 37% compared to prescription glasses
  4. Satisfaction rates are higher for those who buy glasses online as well as for those who buy contact lenses in person

What else is highlighted?

Consumers’ use of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Specifically, the report notes that consumers “who purchase optical products in-person are more likely to use their FSA or HSA benefits.”

Interesting finding: Overall, from 2022 to 2023, consumers' use of FSAs/HSAs for buying both glasses and contact lenses declined—and that includes online and in-person purchases.

How do out-of-pocket expenses compare?

Between online and in-person, consumers are far more likely to spend more when purchasing in person.

The only instance where consumers may spend more when shopping online is for sunglasses, the report notes.

So why are satisfaction rates higher for online buyers?

While the report doesn’t include the “why” for this satisfaction, Howell noted that consumers may feel more comfortable and less pressured when buying online versus making the decision in person with office staff.

“Generally we do see, in past studies, that people praise the convenience of buying glasses online,” she said.

And this differs from contact lenses, right?

Yup! Howell noted the flip-flop in satisfaction with contact lenses, where consumers may have a better experience in person in the office due to the availability of trial lenses and fitting assistance from the clinical staff.

Lastly … where can I find the full report?

Click here!

Note: While the complete report is free for TVC members, the price for non-members is $2,000.

And while we’re on the subject of research … check out TVC’s recent consumer research report on Focused inSights 2024 Frame Trends, released last week.

See here for more Vision Expo East coverage.

Vision Expo East is being held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, New York, from March 14-17, 2024.