Are ECPs Taking Advantage of Plano Sunglass Opportunities?

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Data Insights and Industry Trends


55% of the population (a $6 billion dollar segment) wear Plano sunglasses, representing 8% of the $76 billion ophthalmic market. However, the question is whether eye care professionals (ECPs) are making the most of their expertise and knowledge to inform patients about the benefits of proper sunglasses and providing Plano sunglasses.

Certainly, most patients seen by ECPs require prescription eyewear, limiting the prospects for providing Plano sunglasses. However, emmetropic patients do visit ECPs for services and contact lens patients present the perfect opportunity to stimulate Plano sunglass uptake. We explored the data to find out if ECPs are taking advantage of Plano sunglass opportunity for eligible patients, and in particular for contact lens wearers.


Drawing from the GPN dataset, we analyzed transactions during 2021 and 2022 which occurred at a representative sample of 1,000 ECP locations distributed across the US. We scrutinized the transactions for provision of contact lenses and Plano sunglasses to establish ratios of adoption for these ophthalmic categories.  


We’ve presented the results as Sankey diagram, a visualization to illustrate a flow from one set of values to another. Here, contact lens wearers (CLs) and non-contact lens wearers (NO CLs) define the nodes on the left, while Plano sunglass wearers (SG) and  non-Plano sunglass wearers (NO SG) define the nodes on the right side. The percentage of all patients in each node is called out by hovering over the node and summarized here:

    • Elected contacts: 18.56% of all patients
    • Did not elect contacts: 81.44% of all patients
    • Elected Plano sunglasses: 1.35% of all patients
    • Did not elect Plano sunglasses: 98.65% of all patients

The nodes are connected via links, the lines depicting proportion of patients who fall into the 4 categories:

  • Elected both contacts & Plano sunglasses: 0.30% of all patients
  • Elected contacts, not Plano sunglasses: 18.26% of all patients
  • Elected Plano sunglasses, not contacts: 1.04%
  • Elected neither Plano sunglasses nor contacts: 80.40%

The width of the lines is proportional to the share of each category.

The text boxes next to each node call out the node and link values and (in italics) shows the percentage of node patients for connected links:

    • Elected both contacts & Plano sunglasses: 1.64% of CL patients
    • Elected contacts, not Plano sunglasses: 98.36% of CL patients
    • Omitted contacts, elected Plano sunglasses: 1.28% of No-CL patients
    • Omitted both contacts and Plano sunglasses: 98.72% of No-CL patients
    • Elected both Plano sunglasses and contacts: 22.64% of SG patients
    • Elected Plano sunglasses, not contacts: 77.36% of SG patients
    • Omitted Plano sunglasses, elected contacts: 18.50% of No-SG patients
    • Omitted both Plano sunglasses and contacts: 81.50% of No-SG patients


Segmenting the sample by applying age filters we find most contact lens wearers are in the 25–50-year-old group: 29.37% of this age cohort, and most Plano sunglass wearers are in the same age group accounting for 1.63% of the 25-50 year-olds. 

Gender also influences the patient shares of contact lens and Plano sunglass lenses. Plano sunglass wearers peak among males (1.68% of the male population) and contact lens wearers peak among women with 21.03% of women wearing contact lenses. 

You can choose your own combinations of age and gender to see their impact on results.


While overall 18.56% of all patients elect contact lenses, less than 1% of all patients elect both contacts and Plano sunglasses. Among contact lens wearers, 1.64% elect to purchase Plano sunglasses from their ECP.  This is slightly higher than the 1.28% of non-contact lens patients that elect Plano sunglasses. So, while there is a slightly increased uptake of Plano sunglasses by contact lens patients in ECP offices, ECPs are not getting their fair share of the 55% of the general population who wear Plano sunglasses. 

Undoubtedly, with focus on services and prescription, it’s easy to overlook the opportunities for value-added eyewear like providing over-the-counter Plano sunglasses. The facts are that Plano sunglasses sell from so many types of retailers for $52 on average, and that 28% of the sales dollars occur online.1 These are all contributors to ECPs lackluster share of the Plano sunglass market. 

If you are interested in improving your Plano sunglass sales, consider the importance of devoting space, inventory and merchandising in the dispensary. Commit to prescribing in the exam room and educating patients about why they need a pair of sunglasses:

  • UV and sun protection against eye and eyelid disorders like melanoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts;
  • Eye protection from foreign bodies;
  • Minimize glare for safe driving;
  • Enhanced vision in all outdoor activities. 

Elaborate on the reasons they should obtain them from you:

  • Careful selection of quality frames with expert guidance on tint color selection;
  • Guarantee of UV protection and glare reduction;
  • Expert, professional fitting;
  • Possibly included as a bundled value package for contact lens wearers.


About Industry Trends

Through robust analysis of anonymized data, we are able to develop insights, profiles, and a deeper understanding of market results and benchmarks.

GPN aggregates millions of transactions from thousands of eyecare providers, and focalCenter performs rigorous analysis for delivering timely and precise micro and macro dashboards with interactive business intelligence to the eyecare industry. Please feel free to contact us for more information on growing your eyecare business with data-driven strategies.

By Ron Krefman, OD

Finding solutions in data science.


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