Online eyewear shopping is trending upwards — here’s what that means for your employees and their vision benefits

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It’s no surprise that online purchases are on the rise compared to brick-and-mortar sales. Our world is more digital now than ever. And the eyewear industry is no exception.

With the global eyewear market anticipated to grow steadily, your employees are going to expect their vision plans to work as seamlessly online as they do offline. This requires a wide variety of choice in retailers and providers, an easy claims process, personal savings and more.

The global eyewear market is valued at 147.60 billion US dollars and is predicted to expand at an annual rate of 8.5% between now and 2028.1

Retail eyewear spending keeps trending up

Before the era of online shopping, eyeglass wearers would buy glasses about once every 3 years, or as often as their insurance allowed.1 But as more online retailers enter the scene and the cost of prescription eyewear decreases, more and more people are buying multiple pairs every year.1

In 2020, the Vision Council’s Internet Influence Report found that more than 44% of adults who bought eyeglasses used the internet to assist their purchases — up from 22% just 3 years earlier.2 Consumers aren’t just window shopping (though many are). In fact, 30% of eyeglass buyers look online to compare prices, find specific styles or locate nearby retailers and providers to try their glasses in person.2

Where are consumers purchasing their eyewear?

Where shoppers buy eyewear depends on what they’re looking for. Most will use search engines, but there are discernable patterns based on their needs.

  • Prescription glasses: These shoppers will visit eyeglass retailers without a physical store presence, like
  • Plano sunglasses (no prescription): Consumers stick to general online retailers or mass merchant retailers
  • Over-the-counter readers: These buyers shop for readers at general online retailers or conventional chain retailers, while they’re shopping for other items2

EyeMed now has 6 in-network, online options:3

With this surge in online eyewear shopping, eyewear companies have become more widespread, visible and accessible. Brands have begun to adapt their business models to focus more on the online marketplace to keep customers’ loyalty and create a best-in-class buying experience.

How online eyewear shopping is raising the bar for vision insurance

Your employees now expect their vision benefits to cater to their desire to shop and research online. A wide network of online providers is one of the keys to a vision carrier plan that exceeds expectations — but there are additional factors to keep in mind.

  • Make it easy to find a provider: Members want to find providers from the comfort of their own homes with easy-to-use tools — like EyeMed’s Provider Locator
  • Have try-before-you-buy options: Virtual try-before-you-buy tools allow buyers to upload their photos to “try on” eyeglass styles
  • Create cost transparency: Clear prices make things easier. So it’s invaluable when members can get an idea of what they’ll pay with just a few clicks. EyeMed’s Know Before You Go out-of-pocket cost calculator is a quick way to help them plan ahead before they purchase
  • Provide easy-to-use discounts: Special offers shouldn’t just save members money; they should be easy to use, too — like EyeMed’s in-network benefits, which are applied automatically at checkout

Diversity of choice. Robust online options. Educational tools. These are now the gold standard of a best-in-class benefits experience for your employees — all while tapping into the larger trend of how they use technology to research, make decisions and ultimately make a purchase. So don’t forget to take your vision carrier benefit plan’s online selection and offerings into account.

To learn more, reach out to your EyeMed representative today – or visit


1 – “Eyewear Market Size and Trends”; Retail Insider;; February 2021.

2 – “The Vision Council releases results of the 2020 internet influence report”; The Vision Council;; July 2021.

3 – All network data based on GeoAccess and Network360 data, October 2022.

Fully insured clients are underwritten by: Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company® and Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company of New York®, Kansas City, MO 64111.