According to the data discussed at the second European Contact Lens Forum (ECLF) in Amsterdam on Oct. 17, the penetration of contact lenses is still relatively low in Europe compared with other regions.

While contact lens penetration stands at 15 percent in North America, driven mainly by the U.S., and 22 percent in Japan, Europe registers a weaker 5 penetration of percent, with higher rates only in northern Europe. The penetration rate is determined by a number of factors such as accessibility, awareness and affordability, which vary from country to country.

In order to expand the contact lens market in Europe, the speakers at the forum, representing the sector's industries and institutions, pointed primarily to the need for improved education and continuing education for both professionals and consumers, who often find themselves insufficiently informed on materials and innovation.

The market could also increasingly target children, who can be fitted at any age as long as this is compatible with their individual situation, and presbyopics, considering that contact lenses for presbyopia have grown easier and easier to fit.

Deregulation was raised in the course of the forum as a possible way forward, for some regard the sector as being currently over-regulated in Europe in spite of its low-risk profile.

At the same time, participants all generally agreed on the need to maintain tight regulations for all that concerns quality and safety standards.

The personal relationship between the eye care professional and the contact lens user was also stressed as a vital necessity for the proper use of contact lenses, in contrast with the mere exchange via email. Self-fitting and the lack of after-care advice, favored by the growth of internet sales, can be dangerous. The ties between ECPs and internet suppliers should therefore be strengthened.