Looking after your eyesight is an essential component of your overall health and well-being and its importance in maintaining the quality of life for Canadians of all ages is increasingly recognised. As the population in Canada ages and people spend more time looking at digital screens, the need for comprehensive optical care continues to rise. It highlights the need for affordable and accessible eye care across Canada.

In this article, we have collected the latest optical care statistics in Canada, including how many Canadians have good eyesight without correction, how many are overdue for an eye test, and why everyone should have regular optical exams.

Optical Care Statistics for Canadians

  • 3/4 of Canadians aged 12-19 describe their eyesight as good compared to just 25% of Canadians over 55 years of age.
  • In most age groups, men are more likely to report good eyesight without correction than women.
  • Eyesight commonly starts to deteriorate around 40-44 years old.
  • Seniors with poor vision are more likely to have hip fractures.
  • Over five million Canadians have conditions that could threaten their eyesight.
  • Approximately a quarter of Canadian school-aged children have undetected eyesight issues.
  • Over 30% of Canadians are overdue for a vision exam.
  • People diagnosed with diabetes have a higher risk of going blind.
  • 77% of eyewear sold in Canada is non-luxury eyewear.
  • The global eyewear market is valued at almost $170 billion.

Importance of Eye Health

While having good eyesight is important to the quality of life, eye health is also an indicator of your health in general. For example, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and neurological diseases can be detected based on eye health. During a comprehensive, non-invasive eye examination, an eye care professional can detect health issues that can then be investigated further in more specific examinations.

Eye health has also been shown to be linked with income. There is a two-way relationship. Studies have shown that poor eye health can impact a person’s economic status. On the other hand, low-income status can be a barrier to accessing eye care.

Self-Reported Eyesight in Canada

According to data from Statistics Canada, younger Canadians are more likely to self-report good eyesight without correction. In 2020, 75% of Canadians aged 12 to 19 reported having good eyesight without correction. In contrast, only 25% of Canadians aged 55 and older reported good eyesight without correction.

Another study conducted between 2012 and 2015 revealed that 86% of Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85 years used glasses or contact lenses to correct their eyesight. In addition, 6% of Canadians in that age group were visually impaired.

Differences in Self-Reported Eyesight Between Different Demographics

In 2020, there were differences between the portions of men and women who self-reported good eyesight. Among Canada’s 12 to 19-year-olds, 83% of males reported good vision without correction compared to 69% of females.

The proportion of people reporting good eyesight decreased for both sexes with age. Among 40-44-year-olds, 70% of males and 60% of females reported good eyesight without corrective devices. There was no difference between males and females among Canadians in the oldest age group.

Vision Generally Deteriorates After 40 Years of Age

The results of the self-reporting study on eyesight show that vision starts to deteriorate between the ages of 40 and 44 years. This is partly explained because the curvature of the cornea changes and affects the quality of the retinal images.

Impaired Vision in Seniors Is Linked to More Accidents and Higher Mortality Rate

Canada has an aging population and it is expected that the over-65 population will double in the next 25 years to approximately 9.2 million and the vast majority will experience eye health issues. In addition to only 25% of Canada’s seniors reporting good eyesight without correction, a quarter of Canadians have irreversible vision loss by the time they turn 75, and one in nine have irreversible vision loss by 65 years of age.

Older Canadians are more likely to experience dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, maculopathy, and complications related to diabetes. These eye health problems cannot be solved with lenses but they can be corrected through other means, such as surgery (for cataracts) or medication (for glaucoma if detected early enough).

Seniors who have irreversible vision loss are four times more likely to have hip fractures. They are also admitted to nursing homes three years earlier, experience depression three times as often, have twice the number of falls, and have double the mortality rate.

One in Seven Canadians Have Vision Threatening Eye Conditions

According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists 5.5 million Canadians, which is approximately one in seven Canadians, have vision-threatening eye conditions. 75% of these conditions that could lead to vision loss and even blindness are preventable or treatable if detected early enough.

As Canada’s population ages, it is expected that the prevalence of vision loss will increase by almost 30% in the next decade. Vision loss is predicted to cost Canadians around $30.3 billion by 2032.

Children’s eyesight in Canada

One in four Canadian school-aged children is estimated to have undetected vision issues. 61% of Canadian parents believe they would know if their child had an issue with their vision. However, the Canadian Association of Optometrists says this is a mistaken belief as often parents are not likely to know about vision issues, especially if they are only slight.

Often, having poor eyesight as a child can have far-ranging consequences. For example, 88% of Canadian adults who have a visual impairment report that their experiences at school were directly impacted by their vision. This has affected not just their educational attainment but also their career choices and employment as adults.

One-third of Canadians Are Overdue for an Optical Exam

44% of Canadians report they experience issues with their vision at least a few times per month and 21% say they have these issues every week. Despite this, 34% of Canadians are overdue for a vision exam. Optometrists recommend that all adults, regardless of how they self-report their eyesight, should have a comprehensive vision exam at least every 24 months. For children, the recommendation is once a year. 86% of Canadians say they are aware of the recommendations.

Residents of British Columbia are the most likely to skip a vision exam, with 40% of the population having not had an eye exam in over two years. Next are Quebec at 39%, Ontario at 33%, and Alberta at 30%.

Having regular checks is important so that conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy can be detected early.

Some Canadians Have Never Had an Eye Test

In a study conducted by Leger for Specsavers Canada, the results showed that a quarter of Canadians who do not use corrective lenses have not had an eye test in the previous ten years. In addition, 10% of Canadians have never had an eye test. The main reasons were the cost of eye tests and not having any symptoms of vision loss.

57% of Canadians who do not currently wear corrective lenses said they would visit an optician more often if they noticed signs of their vision worsening.

Diabetes and Optical Care

In Canada, 3.5 million people had diabetes in 2016, and‌ by 2026 this figure is expected to rise to 14 million. People with diabetes are at a 25 times higher risk of becoming blind compared to people with no diabetes. Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in Canada.

Around 20% of people newly diagnosed with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy, which suggests that the damaging impact of the disease has been present for four to seven years before the diagnosis. If diabetic retinopathy is detected early, with the correct treatment and follow-up care, the risk of vision loss can be reduced by 95%.

Anyone with diabetes should see an eye care provider at least once a year but around a quarter of adults aged 60 and older with diabetes have not seen an optician within the last year.

Canada’s Indigenous People and Vision Care

When the CNIB commissioned research into the eye health of Indigenous people, the results showed that a third of Indigenous people had not had an eye test within the last 24 months. During the last two decades, diabetes diagnoses have increased among the Indigenous people in Canada. Approximately 20% of Indigenous people are living with diabetes and have an increased risk of vision loss and blindness.

Eye Exam Costs Are Often Covered For Children And Seniors

While healthcare expenses related to optical care are not generally covered for adults under the universal healthcare plan in Canada, many provinces and territories cover the cost of eye tests for anyone under 18 years or over 65 years of age. Many healthcare authorities in Canada also provide additional coverage for individuals with underlying health conditions or those who receive social assistance. To find out more about what is covered in your province or territory, visit your healthcare authority’s website.

Eyewear Market in Canada

According to Statista, the eyewear market in Canada is predicted to generate a revenue of US$3.76 billion in 2024. The annual growth is expected to be 2.25% between 2024 and 2028. Spectacle lenses are the largest market segment with US$1.59 billion in 2024.

It is expected that the volume of the eyewear market will reach 109 million pieces sold by 2028. This would give the eyewear market volume a growth rate of 2.1%. In 2024, the per person volume is predicted to be 2.5 pieces. Most of these will be non-luxury eyewear, with luxury eyewear accounting only for 23% of eyewear sales in Canada.

Global Eyewear Market

Based on data from a report by Emergen Research, the global eyewear market was US$169.82 billion in 2022 and it had an annual growth rate of 8.1%. The need for functional eyewear has increased because of the increasing occurrence of eye health problems such as age-related macular degeneration, refractive errors, and cataracts. 

Other factors that drive revenue growth are the increasing environmental consciousness among consumers and the demand for sustainable eyewear. Consumers are also increasingly looking for multi-functional eyewear. Some eyewear companies are also utilising AI to develop smart glasses, which combine eyewear with wearable technology.

According to Statista, the highest revenue is generated in the United States where it is expected to reach US$35.16 billion in 2024.

Conclusion

Vision care is not just about correcting sight, it is also about improving the quality of life, productivity, and overall happiness of Canadians. Despite this, many Canadians are overdue for an eye test. The recommendation is to have an eye test every two years for adults and every year for children.

The eyewear market is growing in Canada. The growth is driven by the aging population and an increasing demand for multi-functional as well as sustainable eyewear. Future development is also likely to include a growing number of eyewear that utilises AI.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that all adults should have their eyes checked every two years at the minimum. The recommendation for children is once per year.

It is recommended that everyone has their eyes tested regularly regardless of how good they feel their vision is. This is because an eye test can detect any eye conditions early, even before you experience any symptoms. Eye tests can also detect other medical issues such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.

While around three-quarters of younger Canadians describe their eyesight as good, only a quarter of seniors are likely to do so. Eyesight deteriorates with age and most Canadians start to notice it changing around the age of 40 to 44.

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