Region/Countries: United Kingdom Industry: Manufacturing, Other Date: January 2023

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Developing relationships and collaborations with opticians and suppliers could provide a variety of opportunities for Wisconsin companies to enter the UK’s eyewear supply chain.

When eyeglasses were invented—featuring large frames and thick lenses—some people feared that wearing them would distort their vision and make them look less attractive. But a lot has changed in the eyewear industry. Designer frames are a fashion statement now, and specialized lenses can help reduce glare and offer protection from the sun. As a result, UK opticians are anticipating significant sales growth.

More than 59% of the UK population wears glasses—not including those who choose to wear them for style rather than necessity—and the number is expected to rise as people age and their vision issues become more complicated.

Sales in the UK eyewear market totaled $4.9 billion in 2022, and the industry expects a 4.85% compound annual growth rate through 2027. Corrective lenses generated $2.5 billion in revenue in 2022, while sunglasses accounted for $500 million.

One big advance in the eyewear industry is the growing use of high-performance, specialized lenses. For instance, some lenses can filter out blue light that comes from computers and smartphones, easing eye strain. Other lenses automatically turn dark when they’re exposed to the sun, shielding the wearer from ultraviolet rays.

Sustainability also is becoming an option in eyewear. Retailers are starting to offer recycled frames and plastic-neutral contact lenses.

Wisconsin companies in the eyewear industry may want to consider developing relationships and collaborations with opticians and suppliers in the UK and offering online sales of their products.