Awakening Sleeping Giants
How and why the laser refractive market is set to grow
Rod Solar |
What if I said that the size of the laser refractive surgery market could be multiplied fourfold in less than a decade? And that only those with foresight and adaptability will have a chance to grasp this opportunity?
Since the early 2000s, companies have introduced improvements to traditional LASIK, such as wavefront-guided procedures, femtosecond flaps and small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE). Results improved, complication rates declined, and today, LASIK is as safe and effective as ever. Consumers have, however, responded tepidly. Since the financial crisis of the late 2000s, volumes have not grown significantly. The primary target for laser refractive surgeons today is millennials (born 1980–2000). But despite the hopes placed on them to fuel a laser vision correction renaissance, procedure volumes have remained relatively flat since 2009 (1). Why is that? I think a key problem is that equipment manufacturers are optimizing procedures for only one market segment: people with refractive errors who dislike their glasses and contact lenses enough to opt for laser eye surgery. So far, EyeWorld estimates surgeons have performed 40 million LASIK procedures since 1991 (2). That might sound like a significant number, but considering just how many people worldwide have refractive errors it’s an exceedingly small penetration rate.
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