Diagnostic Market Sees New Demand Due to Effects of COVID-19

Source: Market Scope

Increasing demand for telehealth and mobile applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led manufacturers to scramble to add functionality and accessibility to existing devices and protection apparatuses or create new devices, according to a Market Scope report.

Regulatory bodies and reimbursement organizations have relaxed rules to enable lower barriers for practices implementing these products and services, giving a rare path forward to a telehealth business model that struggled to find its footing in the past.

Historically, the ophthalmic diagnostic equipment market has been one of the most dynamic spaces within ophthalmology, with several new devices and features added every year.

This was never more true than during the early stages of the pandemic, as physicians struggled to manage chronic patients while many countries were in various states of lockdown. From companies manufacturing shields for slit lamps, to practices using drive-through tonometry, anecdotal evidence abounded that ophthalmologists and those who supplied them had to get creative. Many recent industry webinars have been geared toward how to navigate this time by utilizing these solutions.

As ophthalmic surgery gets back on track, we will see whether these relaxed barriers stay low and creative solutions find their way into daily operations. Companies with existing platforms that allow for at-home or hand-held testing may have the upper hand, as will more automated devices that allow for more distance between operator and patient.

Market Scope estimates that the global ophthalmic diagnostic equipment market will total $3.2 billion in 2020, and expects it to increase to $3.9 billion in 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 3.9 percent. Contributing factors include a rising global population, with an expanding elderly segment; advances in treatment and earlier disease diagnosis; and better access to advanced eye care in developing countries.

Market Scope expects that much of the growth will come from increasing demand for more featured devices with the latest technology, including operating room microscopes and clinical data management systems that integrate with surgical equipment and offer remote viewing of images or screening of patients. Growth will be offset by the impact of COVID-19 on practice volume for several months globally in 2020. The shutdown led many practices to reconsider purchase plans for the year or shift funds to lower-cost devices that fit more immediate needs at the practice.

The diagnostic market includes more than 650 individual products—ranging from small hand-held devices to large desktop units with multiple modular options. Equipment varies in price from hundreds of dollars for retinoscopes to more than $400,000 for fully featured OR microscopes.

There are more than 90 competitors in the space, and more will enter regularly due to low barriers to entry. Carl Zeiss Meditec is the market leader in this segment, capturing an estimated 20 percent of total global ophthalmic revenue. Other leaders in the market include Topcon, Nidek, Optos, and Haag-Streit. These firms have extensive product lines and participate in many product categories. The companies use a combination of direct sales efforts and distributors and have key market positions in several major market segments.

Market Scope anticipates a slow period as practices ease back into typical patient and revenue flows, but expects that the rapid technological improvements in this category and changing needs of practices will buoy growth in the five-year term.

Market Scope’s “2020 Ophthalmic Diagnostic Equipment Market Report” was published in July.

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