2020 is fast approaching, and it’s proving to be an interesting year for eye care. In addition to the year 2020 being in line with 20/20 vision, it’s going to be a year of eye care trends that are focused on patient outcomes. A whole-health approach is on tap for optometry in 2020, with emphasis on medical treatments and overall patient health. Specialty eyewear continues to be on the rise as well in 2020, with more patients prioritizing the eye health at work with blue light glasses and safety glasses.
Medical optometry and a focus on disease treatment are expected to be a focus for many optometrists in 2020. The prevalence of eye disease is increasing in America, given the ageing population and the rise of chronic conditions like diabetes.
With this increased prevalence of eye disease comes increased response from optometrists offering comprehensive disease management and treatment plans. Young optometrists, in particular, are leading the medical optometry charge. Many of them are graduating with advanced medical training and are more than comfortable treating eye disease.
Recently graduated optometrists are offering more and more care for surface disease and glaucoma. They also have increased knowledge and comfort in prescribing medications and treatments to their patients.
While low patient compliance has caused issues with the effectiveness of some medical optometry options, new treatment options and diagnostic tools are showing new promise for this area of eye care. While they may not be available by 2020, new technologies like phototherapeutic contact lenses, new glaucoma detection techniques, and iontophoresis for better drug delivery, are showing a promising future for medical optometry.
Blue light products, and especially blue light glasses, have surged in popularity and are expected to experience continued growth in 2020. As more people are spending more time in front of digital devices, more people are also learning about the side effects of blue light. Optometrical experts may be undecided on the benefits of blue light glasses, but many agree that there’s no risk associated with the specialty lenses, either. Eye care professionals recommend blue light protection to 50% of their patients and patients are interested in blue light glasses more than ever.
Blue light glasses aren’t a new product, but the original offerings were unattractive and unpopular. The first blue light lenses had a dark, brown-yellow hue that discolored the wearer’s face and eyes. New versions, however, are much more attractive. They feature a slight tint and some blue light lenses are even clear.
It’s no surprise that patients are interested in these new versions, given the potential relief from digital eye strain. In some markets, blue light glasses are even outselling sunglasses, and their popularity is expected to continue into 2020.
As more online retailers offer glasses and contacts for low cost, patients are turning to their optometrists for more specialized options. Sales for prescription sunglasses, blue light glasses, and safety eyewear are all on the rise, with a compound annual growth rate of 4% expected for safety glasses by 2020.
Improved safety glasses technology is partly responsible for this increase and new advancements have made safety glasses more effective for the end-user. Bifocal safety glasses, for example, are driving market growth. These glasses help prevent eye injuries due to non-compliance as they can be worn throughout the day, regardless of what type of task the wearer is doing.
Certain industries are responsible for the demand for safety glasses, as new equipment requires the use of safety glasses on the job. The healthcare industry is leading the charge, with more healthcare applications requiring the use of laser machines in fields like dermatology and dentistry. More people using these machines means more people requiring laser safety eyewear, a specialty type of safety glasses.
It’s not a new discovery that eye health can be an indicator of overall health, but more people are recognizing the correlation. In turn, more optometrists are offering holistic disease management techniques like ocular nutrition and visual therapy, in addition to medical optometry offerings.
More optometrists are also recognizing the importance of eye care to overall health. Certain health issues can present as vision problems, and while optometrists can’t treat the underlying issues, they are becoming an important part of overall disease management and even disease detection for some patients.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) is showing this trend, featuring various recent news articles that highlight the importance of nutrition to eye health and the correlation between eye health and other illnesses. A recent article showed that slower binocular rivalry could be an early indicator of autism, allowing children to get the treatment they need sooner. Another article talked about the importance of integrating diabetes management into optometric care for better patient outcomes.
The conversation about the intertwined nature of overall health and ocular health is expected to continue into 2020. Hopefully with this trend, more patients realize that regular eye exams are about more than a new pair of glasses, and that they can actually influence their overall health as well. If you’re curious about holistic eye care, blue light lenses, or any of the other trends talked about in this article, request an appointment at our office. We offer specialty eye care services and products including ocular nutrition, eye disease management, blue light glasses, and safety glasses.