Euromcontact has put out its look at the soft contact lens markets in Europe for 2009. The organization found that the market for daily disposable (DD), weekly/biweekly and monthly (WB&M) and conventional soft (CS) lenses rose by 6.18 percent to €1,156 million in 22 European countries last year. In the 11 countries reported, it grew by 5.7 percent to €1,052 million, or 94.3 percent of the total. Daily disposables rose by 9.6 percent and WB&Ms grew by 5.0 percent, but CS lenses saw a big 20.2 percent drop.

The markets fully assessed were the Nordic countries, the U.K. and Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg, France, Germany, Italy, Russia (partial data), Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Additional markets for which data were collected were the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and South Africa.

The Nordic region led the way in the number of people aged 15-64 who wore contact lenses, at 9.69 percent of the population, up by 8 percent from 2008. Switzerland came in second at 7.77 percent, up by 12.2 percent from its fourth place in 2008. Assuming that 50 percent of the population needs vision correction, the contact lens market in the Nordic region has an almost 20 percent penetration rate. The lowest is Germany at 2.96 percent.

Silicone hydrogels make up more than 50 percent of the WB&M segment and in all of the countries except France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Overall, the market for lens care products is shrinking, down by 4.4 percent for all 22 markets.

Euromcontact used data from the following companies: AMO, Alcon, Avizor, Bausch & Lomb, CIBA Vision, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and Menicon Europe. Euromcontact is the European Federation of National Associations and International Companies of Contact Lens (and Lens Care) Manufacturers.

The strongest growth among the reported countries came from Russia, up by 15.67 percent, and Switzerland, with an increase of 13.01 percent. The Netherlands fell by 4.48 percent, but the report attributes this to the fact that CS data were not available for 2009, but had been for 2008. Comparing only areas where there were data, the drop was just 0.15 percent. The smallest increase came from Spain with 1.47 percent.

Among all 22 European markets, daily disposables made up 41.23 percent of the total, WB&M made up 54.9 percent and CS took up 2.03 percent.

In contrast with the Nordic countries, the lowest penetration was in Russia, at 0.68 percent ? though this was growth of 8.7 percent. Information on daily disposables in Russia was not available. The total number of wearers dropped in Spain by 4.0 percent, and in the Netherlands by 7.0 percent (2.9 percent excluding CS).

Daily disposables surpassed the 5 percent threshold only in the Nordic countries, at 5.04 percent, for 52 percent of all wearers. Next was the U.K. and Ireland, at 3.36 percent, 46.7 percent of the total, and Switzerland, 3.0 percent and 38.6 percent of the total. WB&M was the strongest segment in Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Russia led in silicone-hydrogel lenses with almost 80 percent of total value going to this category. The four highest-penetration countries (Nordic, Switzerland, the U.K. and Ireland, and the Netherlands) all had shares of more than 70 percent for silicone-hydrogel. Germany is nearing 60 percent.

The contact lens care market fell in 17 of the 22 countries. The only products assessed were hydrogen peroxide-based solutions and multi-purpose solutions, which make up 76.3 percent of the total market. Multi-purpose solutions had a drop of 1.6 percent in value, while hydrogen peroxide fell by 6.6 percent.

Information about the report, including caveats and margins of error, can be obtained by e-mailing info@euromcontact.org.