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

Philip B. Morgan, Nathan Efron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To document contact lens prescribing trends in the United Kingdom over the past quarter of a century. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101446
JournalContact Lens and Anterior Eye
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


  • Contact lens
  • Contact lens solutions
  • Prescribing trends
  • Rigid lens
  • Soft lens
  • Survey
  • Wearing modalities


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