Contact Lenses Take Center Stage in South Korea

East Asia, including South Korea, China, and Japan, faces a significant challenge – myopia. According to the Korean Ophthalmological Society, a staggering 8 out of 10 teenagers in Korea are diagnosed with nearsightedness. This high prevalence translates to a large population relying on corrective eyewear.

However, Koreans today are seeking solutions that go beyond just correcting vision. There’s a growing demand for functional and stylish eyewear. This trend is fueled by rising disposable incomes and a cultural emphasis on aesthetics. Contact lenses, offering both vision correction and a stylish look, have become increasingly popular.

A Market Driven by High Consumption Rates

The popularity of contact lenses in South Korea is further amplified by high consumption rates. In 2021, Korea Medical Devices Industry Association stated that contact lenses ranked among the top four imported medical devices in the country, highlighting their significance in the healthcare sector. According to Spherical Insights’ research, the market size reflects this importance, with a value of $338.6 million USD in 2023 and a projected growth to reach $765.5 million USD by 2033.

Furthermore, unlike eyeglasses, contact lenses typically require frequent replacements. Most lenses have a lifespan of less than a year, leading to consistent repurchases and a high market turnover. This trend further strengthens the market’s appeal for manufacturers.

Adding another layer of opportunity is the rising popularity of colored contact lenses. Spherical Insights then projected this specific segment to experience a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.5%, indicating a growing consumer interest in using contact lenses not only vision correction but also for aesthetic purposes.

Seizing the Opportunity: Why Korea is Ripe for Foreign Contact Lens Manufacturers

One key reason is the high import dependency for contact lenses in South Korea. Domestic production struggles to meet the ever-increasing demand, creating a significant gap that foreign players can fill.

This opportunity extends beyond just catering to general market needs. Global manufacturers can target niche markets not fully addressed by domestic brands. For example, companies specializing in innovative materials for extended wear or unique lens designs can carve out a strong position in the Korean market.

The Bottomline

South Korea’s surging demand for contact lenses, driven by high nearsightedness and a desire for style, presents a golden opportunity for global manufacturers. Frequent replacements and a gap in domestic production create a wide-open market. With the right strategy, regulatory guidance, and local partnerships, contact lens manufacturers can unlock this lucrative landscape and become part of Korea’s future thriving medical device market.

Navigating the Regulatory Landscape in Korea

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  1. South Korea Colored Contact Lenses Market
  2. Number of children with myopia increasing steeply
  3. More than 70% of adults “wear glasses and contact lenses”… 10% increase from 2021