Research Article| Volume 45, ISSUE 3, 101446, June 2022

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Quarter of a century of contact lens prescribing trends in the United Kingdom (1996 – 2020)

  • Philip B. Morgan
    Eurolens Research, Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
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  • Nathan Efron
    Corresponding author at: School of Optometry and Vision Science, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, 4059, Australia.
    School of Optometry and Vision Science, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia
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Published:April 13, 2021DOI:



      To document contact lens prescribing trends in the United Kingdom over the past quarter of a century.


      An annual survey of contact lens prescribing was conducted each year from 1996 to 2020, inclusive, by asking a random selection of optometrists and contact lens opticians to provide information relating to 10 consecutive contact lens fits between January and March.


      Over the 25 year survey period, 2,671 practitioners returned survey forms, reporting a total of 25,575 contact lens fits. The mean (± standard deviation) age of lens wearers was 35 ± 15 years, of which 64 % were female. Over the survey period, rigid lens new fits decreased from 22 % to 2%. The prescribing of silicone hydrogel lenses has increased steadily since their introduction towards the end of the 1990s, and now represent 80 % of soft lens fits. Soft toric lens prescribing has gradually increased to 47 % – a value at which astigmatism ≥ 0.75DC is theoretically corrected in all contact lens wearers. Daily disposable prescribing increased steadily over the survey period and now represents 63 % of lenses prescribed. Extended wear fits remain at very low levels, except for some prescribing for overnight orthokeratology. Multi-purpose lens care solutions are ubiquitous; peroxide and other systems are now seldom prescribed. Rigid lenses and monthly replacement soft lenses are predominantly worn on a full time basis, whereas daily disposable soft lenses are mainly worn part time.


      This report documents the evolution of contact lens fitting in the United Kingdom over the past 25 years. The most likely lens fit is a spherical design silicone hydrogel daily disposable contact lens prescribed for a 35 year old female and worn on a part-time basis.


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