Rising Demand for Medical Optometry: Trends and Projections


  • Medical optometry, a specialized field, is experiencing a surge in demand. 
  • Factors contributing to this rising need for medical optometry include an aging population, increased prevalence of eye issues, and tech advancements in eye care. 
  • Some of the leading trends in medical optometry include advanced myopia control, innovative drug treatments, and new contact lens technology.
  • Looking ahead, there are several projections impacting the field of medical optometry, such as the rise of AI in diagnostics and an increase in myopia cases.

Medical optometry, a specialized field focusing on advanced eye care beyond traditional vision correction, is experiencing a massive global rise in demand and is expected to be a $173.9 billion market by 2031. This increase can be attributed to an aging population, greater awareness of eye health, and advancements in medical technology.

These developments have expanded the scope of practice for optometrists, who are now more involved in managing complex ocular diseases and offering comprehensive eye care.

Factors Contributing to the Rising Demand

This surge in demand reflects escalating eye health challenges worldwide, the unique requirements of an aging population, and public engagement with eye health spurred by advancements in technology and digital platforms.

  • Increase in eye-related health issues globally. Globally, an alarming rise in eye-related health issues is becoming a major public health concern. The Lancet Global Health Commission’s 2020 report identified cataracts as the top cause of blindness, affecting 17.01 million people.
  • This was followed by uncorrected refractive error (3.70 million), glaucoma (3.61 million), age-related macular degeneration (1.85 million), and diabetic retinopathy (1.07 million) as leading causes of blindness.
  • These statistics highlight the urgent need for improved eye care services and greater awareness about eye health. They also stress the importance of regular eye check-ups and early intervention in preventing and managing these conditions.
  • Aging population and related eye health concerns. The increasing aging population plays a role in the growing demand for medical optometry services. The 65 and older demographic in the United States has reached 58 million, 17.3% of the total population. This represents a 2.4% increase since 2015.
  • As people age, their risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma increases. This necessitates a corresponding growth in specialized optometry services such as cataract surgery.
  • Technological advancements in eye care. Advances in eye care technology are also boosting demand for medical optometry services. For instance, innovative diagnostic and imaging tools like Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) provide detailed retinal visualizations crucial for early disease detection, including glaucoma and macular degeneration.
  • Additionally, digital retinal imaging offers an in-depth view of eye health, promoting timely and effective intervention.
  • Advances in laser eye surgery and contact lens technology enhance treatments offered by medical optometrists. These improvements provide greater accuracy in diagnosis and treatment, leading more people to seek advanced optometric care for better eye health.
  • Enhanced public awareness about eye health. Heightened public awareness about eye health also fuels interest in medical optometry services. The easy availability of eye health information through digital platforms and social media has made people more knowledgeable about their eye health.
  • They are now more aware of the need for regular comprehensive eye exams and the risks associated with glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
  • Interactive technologies like virtual reality simulations and mobile vision test apps have made learning about eye health more engaging. This has improved awareness, prompting people to be proactive about their eye care, leading to an increase in regular check-ups and the use of advanced optometric services and vision therapy.

Current Trends in Medical Optometry

smiling woman holding a contact lense

In addition to the numerous reasons for the rise in medical optometry needs, several important trends are driving the increased demand for this specialty, including:

  • Innovation in treatment methods. In medical optometry, eyewear and contact lens technology advancements are making huge strides. Johnson & Johnson Vision’s Acuvue Oasys Multifocal Lens is a critical development with a Pupil Optimized Design. This innovation improves comfort and effectiveness by customizing the lenses based on the patient’s age and refractive error.
  • Essilor’s Stellest lens, recognized by the FDA as a breakthrough device, is transforming the approach to controlling myopia in glasses. Using HALT technology, a major clinical trial showed that wearing these lenses for at least 12 hours daily can reduce myopia progression 67% more effectively over two years than standard single-vision lenses.
  • Myopia control advancements. Myopia control is advancing quickly, especially in lens technology. The FDA’s approval of CooperVision’s MiSight 1-day lenses helps, as they are the first daily disposable soft contact lenses designed to slow myopia progression. Clinical studies have shown that MiSight 1-day lenses, compared to standard single-vision daily lenses, can reduce myopia progression by 59% and axial elongation by 52%.
  • This breakthrough and the growing use of gas-permeable orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses that reshape the cornea overnight highlight a trend toward more effective, targeted treatments in managing myopia.
  • By establishing co-management relationships, optometrists can offer more coordinated care, addressing not just vision issues but also identifying systemic health problems that manifest in the eye, like diabetic retinopathy. Collaborative healthcare in medical optometry improves patient outcomes by acknowledging the importance of eye health in overall well-being.
  • New pharmaceutical treatments. The use of new pharmaceutical treatments is a step forward in medical optometry. Low-dose Atropine eye drops (0.05%) have emerged as an effective way to slow down myopia progression in children, marking an advance in pediatric eye care.
  • Recent developments in treating thyroid eye disease (TED) include systemic drugs like teprotumumab, the only FDA-approved drug for TED. It targets the IGF-R hormone responsible for the characteristic eye bulging in TED. These pharmaceutical advancements improve treatment efficacy and broaden the scope of care that eye doctors can provide.
  • Evolving contact lens technologies. New advancements in contact lens technology are transforming how various eye conditions are treated. These modern lenses are crafted from advanced materials and feature custom designs to address unique eye health needs.
  • For example, lenses with improved oxygen permeability are now available for those with dry eye syndrome, offering increased comfort and safety for longer wear.
  • Scleral lenses cover a larger part of the eye and benefit people with irregular corneas and severe dry eyes. Medicated contact lenses like ACUVUE® Theravision™ with Ketotifen relieve allergy symptoms.
  • Specialized eye drops. In dry eye, characterized by inadequate tear production, advanced eye drop formulations provide lubrication and components that mimic natural tears or reduce inflammation.
  • The recent FDA approval of eye drops for blepharoptosis, or droopy eyelid, provides a non-surgical solution to improve eyelid position. This can enhance both vision and appearance.

Projections for the Future of Medical Optometry

Looking ahead in medical optometry, key trends include a rise in eye diseases and the integration of AI in diagnostics. The global prevalence of myopia is projected to reach nearly 50% by 2050. Increases in diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration highlight the need for more comprehensive eye care.

Continuous advancements in treatment methods are anticipated to improve patient outcomes. The development of new pharmaceuticals and contact lens technologies could lead to more effective management of conditions like dry eye syndrome, which already affects millions worldwide.

AI use in optometry is projected to transform diagnosis and glaucoma treatment. These technologies could predict conditions like glaucoma with up to 90% accuracy.

According to market research, the optometry market is projected to reach approximately $78.9 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of about 3.8%.

woman getting fitted with glasses

Be Ready for What’s Next With RevolutionEHR

From the increasing prevalence of eye conditions like myopia to the exciting advancements in technology and treatment methods; the optometry field is rapidly changing. Having the right tools and support is vital for your practice’s success in this dynamic environment.

RevolutionEHR is designed to allow you to focus on what matters most — providing exceptional care to your patients. With RevolutionEHR, you can streamline your workflow and have the freedom to focus on adapting to changing demands in the optometry market. Request a demo and discover how RevolutionEHR can transform your practice today.

a new vision for your optometry practice