PPG Industries says sales of its new Trivex lens material more than doubled in 2003, the second year that it has been available, accounting for 3 percent of the global ophthalmic lens market. That compares with 37 percent for C39 plastic materials, 36 percent for mineral glass, 11 percent for polycarbonate and 13 percent for various high-index materials. Company officials have now raised to 10-15 percent their expectations for Trivex' market share in the long term, particularly in view of high rates of customer satisfaction thanks to easy adaptation and to low product returns.

Most of the growth has so far taken place in the USA, where polycarbonate already has a market penetration of about 30 percent. Consumer surveys in that country show that 40 percent of Trivex' users have adopted it as a replacement for polycarbonate, which is 10 percent heavier and not as clear. Another 30 percent were previously CR39 users.

The momentum is likely to pick up speed now in Europe. Apollo in Germany has carried Hoya's European version of Trivex, called PNX, for over one year now and other big players like Specsavers in the UK have shown strong interest in the product. A large French retailer has indicated that it may introduce it next Fall. Among European lens manufacturers, Danae of Slovenia is already using Trivex, calling it Optimax, while Galileo in Italy is taking it from Younger Optics. Other new lens suppliers who have taken on Trivex over the past year are Augen Optics of Mexico, Shamir Insight of Israel, joining Hoya, Younger and Thai Optical Group. Younger has added a photochromic version of Trivex.