During the Women In Optometry (WO) presentation, "Changing Demographics, Changing Models of Optometry," April Jasper, OD, FAAO, professional co-editor of WO, discussed how the changes in optometry professionals reflect the overall changing demographics of the U.S. Around 1950, the number of females in the country caught up to the number of males. Now, about 51 percent of the population is female.
In 1950, women represented just under 30 percent of the workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the share of women in the workforce will peak at 47.1 percent in 2025 before tapering off.
That's about the time that WO predicts that the percentage of women in optometry will tip beyond 50 percent of practicing ODs nationwide.
Katie Gilbert-Spear, OD, MPH, also a WO professional co-editor, noted that demand for eye care services is increasing, too. Citing statistics from industry and government organizations, she noted that the vision correction population has increased from 175.5 million adults in 2007 to 190.9 million adults in 2017.
The percentage of contact lens wearers has increased from 35 million adults in 2007 to 41.2 million adults in 2017. Eye care products and services are expected to grow at 4 percent steady annual growth.
The projected annual exam growth from 2016 -2016 is 1 percent for comprehensive eye exams and 2.8 percent for medical eye services.
"Another growth opportunity is the beauty market, which is expected to exceed $62 billion in 2016, growing at almost 4 percent a year," she said, noting that this area has tremendous growth potential for optometry.
Dr. Gilbert-Spear noted that in its 12 years of publishing, WO has highlighted the stories to women ODs who have modeled their careers to their own liking, moving the models of ownership, partnership and employed relationships beyond the traditional single OD-owned practice.
Lynn Hammonds, OD, closed out the WO presentation by sharing her own untraditional entrance into the profession and the choices she made. Dr. Hammonds is now the immediate past president of SECO.
Whitney Hauser, OD, followed with a presentation and update on Xiidra and the opportunity that optometrists have in helping patients with dry eye signs and symptoms lead more comfortable lives.