In 2012, the value of soft contact lens sales to eye care professionals (ECP) across a combined 31 European countries reached €1,396 million, up by 1.7 percent from the previous year, according to the most recent census released by Euromcontact. However, the data collected and assessed in the study for 11 major European countries showed a 0.7 percent decline in these countries, which represent 81.9 percent of the total European market.

Euromcontact is the European contact lens and lens care industry's organization, which collects the data from all the major suppliers for daily disposable, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and conventional soft contact lenses. The 11 more closely assessed markets are Belgium & Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. & Ireland.

The category split for the 31 markets shows a 43 percent market share in value for daily disposable lenses, a 56 percent share for weekly, bi-weekly and monthly lenses, and a 1.1 percent share for conventional soft lenses.

In the 11 countries analyzed more closely, the market grew by 2.1 percent for daily disposable lenses, but it declined by 2.0 percent for weekly, bi-weekly and monthly lenses. Conventional soft lenses were down by 32.5 percent.

Silicone-hydrogel lenses, which have been important drivers for the contact lens market over the past few years, made up more than 50 percent of the market in the 11 countries, with a penetration rate of 71 percent for weekly, bi-weekly and monthly contact lenses. Norway registered the highest percentage of silicone-hydrogel lenses in the segment at 87.3 percent, followed by U.K. & Ireland with 84.4 percent, and Switzerland with 79.7 percent.

Sweden ranked highest for total contact lens penetration in 2012, with 13.3 percent of the 15-64 years old population wearing contact lenses, 6.4 percent more than the previous year. Norway and Denmark followed Sweden with 10.5 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively. The lowest rate was given for Germany at 3.41 percent, despite a 2.2 percent increase over 2011. Italy showed the strongest growth rate, up by 10.5 percent over 2011.

The segment of weekly, bi-weekly and monthly contact lenses was the strongest market segment in Spain, covering 83.4 percent of all contact lens users. It was followed by the Netherlands with 79.8 percent, Germany with 78.4 percent, Belgium & Luxembourg with 78.0 percent, and France with 74.3 percent.

The Euromcontact study also provides statistics for the European lens care market, which registered a 5.5 percent decline in 2012 to €229 million across the 31 countries. The drop was even stronger in the reported 11 markets, where it went down by 7.7 percent as compared to 2011. In those 11 countries, multipurpose solutions (MPS) were off by 5.6 percent in value while hydrogen peroxide solutions and systems (HP) declined by 8.6 percent. Together, HP and MPS make up for 88.4 percent of the total lens care market. The MPS market value in the 11 reported countries is 2.63 times the HP one.

Companies that contributed data for the study include Alcon/Ciba Vision, AMO, Avizor, Bausch+Lomb, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson and Menicon Europe. The study has been carried out for eight years. Euromcontact states in the document that details on rigid lenses are not provided because a significant proportion of their sales in some countries, for example in the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands, is by companies that do not take supply data.