By Sarah McGoldrick
Age related eye problems—the numbers continue to grow in Canada. One in eight Canadians over the age of 75 and one in 11 over the age of 65 now live with some form of vision loss.
As the ‘Boomer’ generation continues to get older, this number will continue to rise.
Eyewear companies are doing their best to ensure that technology and design reflect this growing demographic.
Boomers are more active than their predecessors, participating in more physical activities and using technology at a higher rate than ever before.
This has forced eyewear companies to make changes in both how they market and create eyewear for this age group.
What many companies have quickly discovered is capturing the styles of the past and melding them with forward-looking technology is the key to winning customers.
“Retro-inspired silhouettes continue to trend strongly with Boomers, including softened cat-eyes for women and wayfarer shapes for
men,” said Ken Weissman, President of Modern Optical. “As for colours, they gravitate toward the youthful effects of deeper, earthy hues.
Updated tortoise patterns paired with lighter neutrals are also popular.” He notes while Boomers are fashion-conscious, they place an equal, if not greater importance on comfort.
For that reason, he says lightweight materials such as titanium and TR90 are a bonus; however, proper fit is a must.
As faces come in all shapes and sizes, extra care is now being taken to find eyewear that fits securely on the face, particularly for Boomers with a more active lifestyle.
“To optimize their vision, Boomers must balance style with practicality when choosing their eyewear. Deeper eye shapes are necessary to accommodate progressive lenses while lightweight materials provide added comfort,” said Weissman. “In addition, eyewear
sized specifically for segmented markets such as fuller or petite faces ensures proper fit and therefore greater comfort. Here at Modern Optical, our BMEC Collection, designed for larger men, has seen remarkable growth since its debut five years ago. In addition, our Genevieve Boutique Collection, designed for teen and petite women also does very well.”
Modern Boomers have incredibly active lifestyles, rivalling those of individuals far younger than themselves. As a result, many
Boomers require several pieces of eyewear to accommodate a multi-pair lifestyle.
“Boomers are the population most likely to own multiple pairs of glasses because they tend to understand the practical benefits.
Whether it’s for computer use, driving, evening wear, outdoor activity, or just a spare pair, their active lifestyles create different needs. ECPs who offer a variety of affordable frame options will benefit most from this trend,” said Weissman.
The Right Look
Style is just as important as technology to Boomers. More fashion conscious clients are looking for something that not only helps
them see, but also looks good and works for a variety of occasions.
“The quality and value of the actual eyewear is very important for this age group,” said Jon Martinez, Public Relations/Advertising Manager at Viva International Group. “The way the frame fits on their face and how well it fits into their lifestyle also plays a key role in buying decisions. This group is not as brand-driven as their younger counterparts, yet they are loyal to a brand’s reputation and positioning in the marketplace.”
He shares the same belief that the size of lenses often dictates what the style of the frames is going to be. Boomers are looking for slimmer, lighter frames and casting aside the old-fashioned, heavy frames traditionally associated with wearers ¸as they age.
“As prescription needs change, so does the need to accommodate progressive lenses , while providing on-trend looks. Handmade materials, such as handcrafted acetate, as well as specialized materials, such as titanium and stainless steel offer benefits and added value to the frame’s design,” he said. “Viva offers a range of styles that meet the needs of today’s Boomers, including
GANT and Harley-Davidson Eyewear. These collections deliver both optical and prescription ready sunglasses, which reflect the
authenticity and distinct design elements of the brand.”
Looking great comes down to the right materials and careful craftsmanship. Match Eyewear Canada has been a leader in innovative design options and styles for men and women.
They have developed several collections which fit the lifestyles of active Boomers.
Today’s Boomers are leading active, vital lives full of fun, travel and adventure. Fashion is now at the top of their priority list for selecting eyewear, along with comfort and durability.
“Just like anyone else, Boomers want to look modern and attractive, but also age appropriate. With the wide selection of eyewear available today there is never a need to sacrifice fashion for function,” said Ethan Goodman, President of Match Eyewear Canada.
He notes the significant growth in this market over the past few years and the expected further explosion in this population’s need for eyewear is helping to shape how companies are planning and developing their eyewear designs.
“With the significant and growing market share that Boomers represent in this industry, it’s no surprise that most eyewear companies
are actively pursuing the 60-plus consumer by creating eyewear lines specifically for them,” he said.
“Marketing campaigns are then designed to impart a vital, attractive, even sexy image. This image is further enhanced by the licensing of brands by older, glamorous celebrities.”
A report conducted by Transitions Optical (Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits) found that many people in the workforce are not
taking advantage of the eyecare available to them. It found that Boomers were only slightly more likely than younger employees to enroll in a vision care benefit program. This leaves a large percentage of the workforce at risk of poor job performance and an
increased potential for injury or mistakes.
“Just as we experience a decline in physical strength as we age, our vision also declines in its performance leading to problems with low light, night vision, light scatter and bright sunlight. The aging population is also living longer and working longer
in a changing and more complex visual world,” said Matt Doring Director, National Retail and Canada.
He adds Computer Vision Syndrome is now more prevalent than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Transitions lenses with AR most closely mimic the performance of the eyes—letting more light in when they need it and less when
they don’t—and are ideal solutions to restore and enhance vision.
“As we move from traditional manufacturing to digital manufacturing, the timing is perfect to package a digitally manufactured PAL,
Transitions photochromics with AR.
These are ‘must-haves’ for the boomer and those above 65,” he said. •
Focusing On A Booming Eyewear Business
By Sarah McGoldrick