The European wholesale market for soft contact lenses decreased by 9.1 percent year-on-year to €1,376 million in 2020 according to data collected in 13 countries by Euromcontact, the European federation of national associations and international contact lenses manufacturers. The countries included in this research are: Belgium, Luxemburg, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K and Ireland.

A larger research covering a total of 33 countries - mostly in Europe, but also including the U.A.E., Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and South Africa - showed a similar trend, with an overall drop of 9.6 percent to €1,814 million. However, in order to provide comparable results, Euromcontact’s report focuses on the 13 countries listed above and the following figures pertain to that base, unless otherwise mentioned.

The research is based on the sales in volume and value by contact lenses’ manufacturers to eye care professionals, including wholesalers and online sellers. The international brands that shared their information are Alcon Vision Care, Avizor, Bausch & Lomb, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision, mark’ennovy and Menicon Europe, and their aggregated sales are said to represent between 80 and 90 percent of the soft contact lenses’ market.

By market segment, sales of daily disposable (DD) lenses declined by 9.4 percent in value year-on-year, while weekly, bi-weekly and monthly (W/B&M) lenses sales’ drop was limited to 8.4 percent. The two product categories represent 55.0 percent and 44.6 percent of the soft contact lenses market by value, respectively. The remaining 0.4 percent consist of sales of conventional soft contact lenses, which plunged by 24.0 percent last year as compared to 2020. Based on the enlarged list of 33 markets, Euromcontact found that silicone hydrogel (SiHy) lenses had a 86.4 percent market share in value in the W/B&M segment, unchanged from 2019.

The total market for lens care products in the 13 main countries declined by 9.9 percent to €144 million.

The report also provides estimates on the soft contact lenses market by country. As in the previous year, the U.K. remains by far and large the biggest European market with a wholesale value of €350 million in 2020, followed by Italy, Germany, France and Spain with sales of €230 million, €210 million, €190 million and €125 million in that order.

The U.K. was also one of the countries where sales were less impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, with year-on-year declines of 5.1 percent in value and 3.8 percent in volume only, a resistance probably attributable to the high amount of monthly contact lenses subscription plans in the country. In value, the markets that suffered the highest drops last year were Italy, Sweden and Spain with declines of 19.8 percent, 14.7 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively. Conversely, sales of soft contact lenses increased by 1.4 percent in the Netherlands and by 1.8 percent in Norway.

Wearer penetration by segment for population 15-64 years of age
Market Wearer base Change vs. 2019
Denmark 13.62% -7.24%
Sweden 12.40% -15.53%
Norway 11.65% 4.69%
The Netherlands 8.62% -1.26%
U.K & Ireland 8.45% -6.13%
Switzerland 8.26% -3.55%
Belgium & Luxemburg 5.23% -6.52%
France 4.50% -7.34%
Italy 3.89% -20.39%
Germany 3.82% -7.80%
Spain 3.51% -14.50%
Total  5.56% -9.06%
Source : EUROMCONTACT 2020 Market Publication

In terms of market penetration, a data showing the percentage of contact lenses wearers in the 15-64 years old population, Denmark still tops the European ranking in 2020 with a 13.6 percent wearer base, however recording a 7.2 percent decline in absolute number of users. The second and third positions in this list are held by two other Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Norway, with respective wearer bases of 12.4 percent and 11.6 percent. For the 13 main countries, the percentage of contact lens users was calculated at 5.6 percent, representing a drop of 9.1 percent in absolute number of wearers.