Beyond Vision: Behaviors to Attract New & Returning Contact Lens Wearers

In our Spring 2024 See Tomorrow report we share everyday actions that the eye care community can take to engage potential and former contact lens wearers. 

With almost one in two glasses wearers indicating a high interest in trying contact lenses and lapsed wearers saying they’re open to resuming use, there’s tremendous untapped category potential. The latest research is based on survey data from more than 1,000 vision-corrected adults segmented by glasses-only wearers, new contact lens wearers, and contact lens dropouts. 

The 26-page, information-rich “Beyond Vision” report includes sharable infographics for staff training and discussion, along with columns and checklists from our 2024 Visionaries that offer practical implementation tips. Download it for free.

Report Highlights

Strong Demand for Contact Lenses

Our findings reveal significant untapped contact lens demand, with almost one in two (47.8%) glasses wearers who have never tried contacts saying they are highly interested. However, only one in 10 (10.5%) said their optometrist or ophthalmologist had recommended they consider contact lenses, with even lower rates for exam staff (6%), optical/eyewear display staff (3%), and administrative staff (2%) within the office.

Who Plays a Role in Contact Lens Wear?

While adults rely on multiple sources to obtain contact lens information, optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, and assistants are overwhelmingly influential, as are friends and family.

Among 20 possible information sources, optometrists and ophthalmologists were the top choice, selected by 66% of glasses wearers and 46% of new contact lens wearers.

Opticians (44% of glasses wearers, 26% of new contact lens wearers) and friends / family (40% of glasses wearers, 31% of new contact lens wearers) run neck-and neck for the second spot, trailed by eye exam technicians / assistants (31% of glasses wearers, 24% of new contact lens wearers).

25 Factors That Influence Contact Lens Consideration

Glasses-only wearers who had never tried contact lenses evaluated 25 factors as to their likely impact in consideration of contacts. The top factor was having an eye doctor explain why contact lenses can benefit the patient (66% —with an emphasis on having the advice come from the optometrist or ophthalmologist).

Other aspects that practice teams may take for granted were also evident, such as understanding insertion and removal (52%), taking trial lenses home (51%), and knowing about the range of price and performance options (47%).

Inaction Creates Disinterest

Among glasses-only wearers, 51% said interactions at their eye doctors’ offices affected their decision to not try contacts. The lack of active conversations by the practice team was the most identified issue, with about one of every five patients noting the problem stemmed from no one recommending contact lenses (20%), no one mentioning they were a candidate (19%), and no one providing contact lens information (18%).

Communicate to Overcome Misperceptions

Non-behavioral issues that dissuade trial include fear factors such as patients not wanting to touch their eye (44%) and infection concerns (25%); affordability (30%); and misperceptions about having dry eye (27%) and astigmatism (17%).

Advancements Spark Interest

Ratings from former contact lens wearers of what would motivate them to return, was split by those who dropped out within the past two years compared to longer-term dropouts.

Among more recent dropouts, awareness of new advances (55%), a renewed conversation with their eye doctor about contact lens benefits (50%), dual/part-time wear alongside glasses (50%), and the availability of trial lenses (50%) were at the top. Those who abandoned wear longer ago placed the most weight on being made aware of contact lenses for a specific eye condition (85%), of new advances and technologies (74%), price and performance options (72%) and access to trial lenses (66%).

Reinforcing Contact Lens Benefits

CLI presented 14 options to people who had been prescribed contact lenses within the past two years, and who said they regularly use them for vision correction, asking them to recall what affected their choice to proceed. The highest responses centered on aspects that have the broadest appeal: freedom from glasses (44%), personal appearance (42%), and ease of use (39%).

Bring Them Back: Motivating Drop Outs

Among more recent dropouts (within the past 24 months), awareness of new advances (55%), a renewed conversation with their eye doctor about contact lens benefits (50%), dual/part-time wear alongside glasses (50%), and the availability of trial lenses (50%) were all top motivators.

Feeling that their eye doctor or staff had a genuine interest in helping them scored high (45%)—three times higher than reported by longer-term dropouts.

It Takes A Team

Enthusiasm among everyone in a practice matters—up to 30% of glasses only wearers reported this would influence their decision to try contacts. What’s more vital, though, is explaining contact lens benefits.

Most crucial is doctors personally having that conversation, versus fully
delegating contact lens information sharing to their teams. For glasses wearers,
the recommendation from the optometrist or ophthalmologist matters to 66% of them, compared to 22% for eye exam staff and 8% for eyewear display staff.

Vision Expo East 2024 Main Stage Panel

Our Visionary panel shared a sneak peak of our research findings on the Vision Expo East “The Bridge” main stage, sharing how they work with their teams to instill and reinforce behaviors that attract new contact lens wearers.

Panelists included Jason Compton, OD, FAAO, Sabrina Gaan, OD, Scott Moscow, OD, and Adam Ramsey, OD, with moderation from Andrew Bruce, LDO, ABOM, NCLEM, FCLSA.

Mr. Andrew Bruce


Dr. Jason Compton

Dr. Jason Compton

Dr. Sabrina Gaan

Dr. Sabrina Gaan

Dr. Scott Moscow

Dr. Scott Moscow

Dr. Adam Ramsey

Dr. Adam Ramsey