Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss and blindness globally. With an increasing number of cataract procedures, the intraocular lens (IOL) market is growing at a fast pace. According to GlobalData analysis, the IOL market was worth nearly $4.2bn in 2019 and is expected to grow to $5.2bn by 2030.

During the pandemic, the market decreased by 17.2% due to the cancellation of elective surgeries and decreased hospital admissions, but this is expected to rebound by the end of this year.

An IOL is an artificial lens made of plastic, silicone, acrylic or another material that is implanted inside the eye during cataract surgery to restore vision in patients. Increased adoption of advanced technologies is a major driver of the market. Phacoemulsification is the most common cataract surgery technique performed.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery involves using an optical coherence tomography image to help the surgeon create precise and specific laser incisions in the cornea and the capsule. Robotic cataract surgery, in addition to femtosecond lasers, eye-tracking technology and three-dimensional imaging, will become disruptive technologies.

Innovations and technological advances in this field have made cataract surgery truly refractive. Due to cost-effectiveness and favourable reimbursement policies, monofocal IOLs make up the leading segment of the market, followed by toric and multifocal IOLs.

Monofocal IOLs with enhanced depth of focus, such as Alcon’s Vivity and Johnson and Johnson Vision’s TECNIS Eyhance, are likely to displace standard monofocal IOLs. This is because they offer patients more spectacle independence with negligible dysphotopsia, an aberrant optical phenomenon occurring after the implantation of an IOL.

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Newer IOLs, including trifocal, quadrifocal, extended depth-of-focus (EDOF) and adjustable IOLs, have been instrumental in providing spectacle-free vision at all distances, along with improvement in optics and aberration profiles. The higher uptake of premium patient-pay lenses in the coming years is expected to grow the market to a new height.

The IOL market saw a significant downturn last year during the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the suspension of elective cataract surgeries. North America, with the largest market, had a major revenue loss in the second quarter of last year, with the rise in Covid-19 cases and the cancellations or deferrals of all elective procedures. But as elective surgeries resumed in the third quarter, the market experienced a surge in demand for IOLs, with increasing IOL sales.

From the beginning of the fourth quarter, there was a steady positive growth, and the recovery has been strong in the first quarter of this year too. With constant recovery in the upcoming quarters, GlobalData expects the market to fully recover from previous losses by the end of this year.