In 2015, sales of soft contact lenses (SCLs) to eye care professionals (ECP) across 33 European countries grew by 4.45 percent to €1,619 million, according to the most recent census released by Euromcontact, the short name for the European Federation of National Associations and International Companies of Contact Lens and Lens Care Manufacturers. The data collected by Euromcontact include Daily Disposables (DD), Weekly/Bi-Weekly and Monthly (W/B&M) and conventional soft (CS) contact lenses. Data for rigid lenses were collected but not used for the report, as a significant proportion of rigid lens sales - for example in the U.K., Germany and in the Netherlands - is accounted for by companies not taking part in the data collection process for this study.

For the purposes of the report, six of the 33 countries were tied with another one to form three clusters: Belgium was combined with Luxembourg, as was Slovakia with the Czech Republic and Ireland with the U.K. Not all countries had data in all segments for 2015 and 2014 though, according to the report. Russia, for instance, did not have data for DD and CS in 2015 and 2014. More gaps existed in the small markets for the CS contact lenses. Data for W/B-W&M were available for all 33 countries in both years.

Of the reported countries, only 11 major countries were assessed for this study, although reference is occasionally made in the document to the total of the 33. The assessed markets were Belgium & Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. & Ireland. The list of markets for which data were collected but not assessed include Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic & Slovakia, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kuwait, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Slovenia, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates.

The contact lens market for the 11 countries assessed in the study, which account for 81.75 percent of the total collected, grew by 3.73 percent in 2015, reaching a value of €1,323 million. In these countries, daily disposables grew by 8.05 percent while W/B&M decreased by 0.37 percent. CS declined strongly and dropped by 18.01 percent. The split in the segments by value for these countries was 52.47 percent for the DD, 47.08 percent for W/B&M and 0.62 percent for CS.

Sweden led in terms of contact lens penetration, with 13.7 percent of the 15-64 year-old population wearing contact lenses, although the percentage dropped by 5.2 percent compared with the previous year. Sweden is followed by Denmark, where contact lens penetration grew by 4.9 percent to 12.3 percent. Norway, which ranks in the third place, also registered an increase in 2015, with contact lens penetration up by 3.7 percent to 11.8 percent. The lowest penetration rate among the 11 assessed countries was in Spain, with 3.81 percent, despite an increase from 2014 of 3.15 percent.

For all 33 markets, sales of daily disposables grew by 8.5 percent, while the increase for W/B&M was 1.2 percent. In contrast, CS sales declined by 17.1 percent. CS are, however, a tiny part of the total in these countries, where it only accounts for 0.5 percent of the market. DD account for 51.5 percent of the market in these countries, while W/B&M account for 51.5 percent.

Silicone Hydrogels (SiHy) represented an 82.02 percent share in the W/B&M segment (in total) and well above 75 percent in all of the 11 assessed countries. Over the last few years, SiHy contact lenses have been key drivers for the contact lens market. Among the 11 assessed countries, Sweden, has the highest percentage of SiHy among the W/W-B&M with 90.7 percent, followed by U.K.-Ireland with 88.3 percent, Norway with 87.6 percent and Switzerland with 86.5 percent. The rate is the lowest in Italy, with 78.0 percent.

As for the lens care market, sales grew by 0.1 percent for all 33 countries/30 clusters in 2015. The annual value of lens care per wearer was the highest in Egypt and Switzerland and lowest in U.K.-Ireland and South Africa. For lens care products, the collected segments include: hydrogen peroxide based solutions and systems, multipurpose solutions, total soft disinfecting solutions, non-multipurpose chemical disinfectants, daily cleaners for rigid and soft lenses, enzymatic cleaning products, saline solutions and re-wetting solutions. All countries provided total data for lens care products, but not all countries had data for all segments and all years. The report therefore only looked at totals (sum of all segments, when this was the available data), total soft disinfecting, and the largest segments, which include hydrogen peroxide and multipurpose solutions.

The companies that contributed data for the report include Alcon/Ciba Vision, AMO, Avizor, Bausch+Lomb, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, and Menicon Europe. Each quarter the European headquarters of the participating companies submit the numbers of lenses sold, including units and shipping data, as well as the market value of lenses and lens care products at sell-in prices to an independent company. This company removes manufacturer-specific information and returns the aggregated figures by country, by segment and for the total of all countries to both Euromcontact and the reporting manufacturers, in order to allow them to assess their relative performance.

The data collection covers all soft lens and lens care market segments, showing also the change versus the previous year. According to Euromcontact, the participating companies cover around 80 to 90 percent of the disposable/planned replacement contact lens market in Europe.