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The Big survey

ECPs Offer Predictions for the ‘Next Big Thing’ in Optical Products

Eye drops to treat presbyopia, fully integrated smart glasses and customized 3D-printed frames are on the radar screen for our 2021 Big Survey respondents.

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WE ASKED HUNDREDS of ECPs who took INVISION’s 2021 Big Survey what they thought the next breakout trend in optical products would be. Among the usual suspects — larger frames… smaller frames… metals, acetates… vintage! — respondents mentioned some true standouts.

According to many, anti-fog treatments and products are not going anywhere, with one positing an “AR fog stopper coating” would hit it big. Myopia continues to be a buzzword when it comes to both glasses and contact lenses to treat it, but serious excitement surrounds the possibility of a presbyopia-treating eye drop.

On the design side, they expected to see more customization, likely utilizing 3D printing. “Custom 3D printed frames” and “interchangeable frame fronts, 3D printed frames in house,” to quote two. One respondent believed this customization would be possible with “AI aided design” and another thought “3D printing repairs” would become another item in an optician’s toolbox. And it seems price is becoming less of a concern: “Something custom. Everyone wants to be special right now and are willing to pay for it.”

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On the technology front, respondents mentioned smart glasses and wearables, of course, but took it a bit further with the expectation that they will be fully integrated with smartphones and feature heads up display.

And lastly, from a business perspective, they’ve noted, “more design houses are taking back ownership, manufacturing, and sales of their own products — less licensing of their coveted brands,” and “an increase in LASIK, [since] people are tired of fogged lenses and dry contact lenses when wearing masks.”

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between September and October, attracting almost 400 anonymous responses from owners of vision business across the United States. The full results are published in the November-December issue of INVISION.

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