Exams to Earnings: How Eye Exam Volume Impacts Practice Revenue

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Data Insights and Industry Trends

The number of comprehensive eye exams performed each week is a vital indicator of an optometry practice’s revenue. Since eye exams are the main entry point for optometric care, tracking their productivity helps in efficient appointment scheduling, proper staff allocation, and effective inventory planning. Understanding industry benchmarks allows practices to compare performance and set achievable goals.

Regional differences can significantly impact eye exam volume. Factors like population density, socioeconomic status, demographic makeup, and health trends influence the demand for services. Knowing these regional nuances helps practices tailor their services to local needs. For example, areas with an aging population may have more patients needing routine care, while urban regions with younger populations might see more new patients.

Analyzing the mix of new versus returning patients reveals insights into customer loyalty and acquisition success. A high rate of returning patients indicates strong satisfaction and loyalty, whereas many new patients suggest effective marketing and outreach. Balancing these metrics ensures a stable patient base and continued growth.


To measure weekly comprehensive eye exams in a typical optometry practice, we reviewed nearly 6 million transactions from 2,300 practices across the US in the GPN database for 2023. We calculated the median number of comprehensive eye exams per week per location across the nine US Census regions.


The median weekly count of comprehensive eye exams per location and the share of new vs established patients by US Census division are:

  • East North Central: 37 median exams/week; 71.20% established patients; 27.40% new patients.
  • East South Central: 50 median exams/week; 70.00% established patients; 30.00% new patients.
  • Middle Atlantic: 32 median exams/week; 68.80% established patients; 28.10% new patients.
  • Mountain: 40 median exams/week; 65.00% established patients; 35.00% new patients.
  • New England: 43 median exams/week; 72.10% established patients; 27.90% new patients.
  • Pacific: 35 median exams/week; 65.70% established patients; 34.30% new patients.
  • South Atlantic: 42 median exams/week; 66.70% established patients; 33.30% new patients.
  • West North Central: 41 median exams/week; 75.60% established patients; 26.80% new patients.
  • West South Central: 43 median exams/week; 67.40% established patients; 34.90% new patients.

On average, practices performed 40 comprehensive eye exams per week, with a 69.2% to 30.9% split between established and new patients. The East South Central region had the highest median at 50 exams per week, while the Middle Atlantic region had the lowest at 32. West North Central states saw the highest percentage of returning patients (75.6%), whereas Mountain states had the lowest (65%), but the highest percentage of new patients (35%).


Putting these results into context, other sources report that the average optometry practice logs between 2,500 and 3,500 patient visits per optometrist annually, equating to 48 to 67 patients per week over 52 weeks. Given that comprehensive eye exams are just one type of visit, the median of 40 exams per week aligns well with these figures.

Previous reports indicated that 80% of patients were returning, while 20% were new. Our current findings suggest a higher turnover or improved success in attracting new patients.

Knowing the median volume of weekly eye exams helps gauge practice efficiency and service demand. Understanding regional differences allows practices to adapt to local needs. The ratio of new to returning patients offers insights into patient loyalty and acquisition strategies. Monitoring these metrics ensures practices can meet local demands while maintaining a stable and growing patient base.

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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