China’s Ophthalmic Market Expected to Double by 2021

March 25, 2016: By Market Scope

Market Scope forecasts that China’s US$2.7 billion ophthalmic market will nearly double by 2021, growing at a compound annual rate of 14.8 percent a year to $US5.3 billion with a constant currency conversion.

Rapid growth in the aging population segment coupled with an upsurge in dietary change-related eye diseases has fueled a tremendous unmet need for ophthalmic care in the country. China is home to about one-third of the world’s blind people—about half of whom are blind from cataracts—and is seeing rising numbers of people with glaucoma or retinal disease. Despite the need for ophthalmic care, China’s eye care system lacks the capacity to treat the number of new cases of eye disease that develop every year, much less the backlog of untreated cases from prior years. To fill the gap, the government has turned increasingly to entrepreneurs and private businesses. Rising personal incomes, personal wealth, and broader insurance coverage are fertilizing the ground for private enterprise, which is free from some of the purchasing regulations that bind state-owned health care providers. The combination of need, rising income, and growing opportunities for private enterprise are creating the world’s largest ophthalmic market.

Retinal products are the largest ophthalmic revenue market in China due to the importance of anti-VEGFs in treatment. Retinal diseases, which include pathological myopia (far more prevalent in China than in the West), are the second-leading cause of blindness in China. We expect that increasing access to treatment will drive revenue growth in this category.

Glaucoma, the second-largest ophthalmic submarket in China, is largely a pharmaceutical market, and the main driver of revenue growth will be better access to glaucoma medicines. There is plenty of room for improvement in this sector. Even with double-digit growth, the majority of glaucoma sufferers still will not be diagnosed or get treatment.

With an estimated 1.6 million procedures performed in 2016, cataract is the most common surgical procedure in China. A shortage of trained surgeons, however, is holding back the profession from meeting the need for treatment. We foresee ultrasonic phacoemulsification as continuing to replace extracapsular cataract extraction of all varieties, including manual small incision cataract surgery, but we predict the fastest-growing technology will be femtosecond laser cataract surgery, which is just beginning to have a presence in the market.

China is the world’s largest market for laser vision correction, with a growing epidemic of myopia. Private providers have taken the lead in commercializing refractive surgery, but prospects for growth are dampened by a fall-off in the number of people entering their twenties. Alternative technologies, such as SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction) and phakic IOLs, are getting a toehold in the market.

Market Scope estimates that there are more than 90 companies competing in China’s ophthalmic market. Three-quarters of them offer products in three product categories or fewer. Nine companies (Alcon, Allergan, Genentech/Roche, Carl Zeiss Meditec, Bausch + Lomb, Abbott, Chengdu Kanghong Pharmaceutical Co., Santen, and Topcon) make up more than two-thirds of manufacturer revenues, leaving the smaller market players competing for the remaining 31 percent of the ophthalmic market opportunity in China.

Market Scope published its 2016 China Ophthalmic Market Report: An Analysis for 2015 to 2021 in March 2016. Our report includes a comprehensive overview of the Chinese population and economic conditions. We cover prevalence and forecasts for eye diseases and conditions. We discuss therapeutic approaches and describe commercialized products and products in the pipeline. Our report also examines the outlook for dry eye treatments, diagnostic equipment, surgical instruments, and single-use surgical devices. We analyze unit demand and revenue and forecast future performance over the next five years. We also include market share data and discuss key strategic issues.

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