Are You Seeing Enough Pediatric Patients?

by | May 19, 2022 | Data Insights and Industry Trends

You may know how many of your patients are kids, but it’s hard to know how many of your patients should be kids. We took a look at the child eye care market to see if we could identify potential opportunities for practices to expand or improve their patient mix to include more children.

Addressable Child Market

The “addressable child market” refers to the portion of the general population fall into this category. Simply put, “how many kids are there who need eye care?” Understanding the size of your particular addressable child eye care market allows practices to benchmark their patient mix and potentially uncover opportunities.

On a national level, there are some 79 million children in the US. That means nearly 1 in 4 people are under age 18. Are eyecare practices seeing the same 25% proportion of children in their patient populations? What about your practice?

The literature tells us that in 2020, 27% of patients seen at Federally funded health programs for general medical care were children.1 However, for eyecare, the CDC reports that less than 15% of all preschool children receive an eye exam.2

In 2019, 25.3% of children aged 2–17 years were estimated to be wearing glasses or contact lenses.3 Yet recent studies conclude that myopia is prevalent in more than 40% of US children. 4 These discrepancies mean that many children are not getting needed eye care nor eyewear. 

What the Data Says

To investigate the child share of patients seen in a typical eye care office, we looked at the GPN database to review child share of patient populations among 2,600 eyecare locations distributed across the US.  

The sample consisted of 7.2 million de-identified patients with known age, derived from 2,600 anonymized ECP locations. The typical ECP location averaged 17.7% children in their patient mix. Aggregating the child share per practice into 3 groups (<12%; 12%-24%; or >24%) you can use the interactive graphic to explore the share of locations, the average share of children and the age distribution of children eye care patients 

With the overwhelming majority of practices (83%) serving less than 24% child patients, opportunity for growth clearly abounds. To join the 17% of ECPs that over-index in child patients, you will likely need to consider participating in insurance, since pediatric vision coverage is an essential health benefit. That’s good and bad news. It also means the opportunity to participate in the market of 32 million children with myopia and 47 million at risk. 

For a detailed look at your local child market as well as eyecare and eyewear spend and demand in your neighborhood, check out localEyes reports.


By Ron Krefman, OD

Finding solutions in data science.


Share This