China’s Ophthalmic Market to grow 11.3 Percent to $4.5 Billion by 2023

April 24, 2018: By Matthew Douty

Market Scope forecasts that China’s $2.6 billion ophthalmic market will grow at a compound annual rate of 11.3 percent over the next five years to $4.5 billion.

China has tremendous unmet need for ophthalmic care. The country is home to approximately one-third of the world’s blind people, about half of whom are blind from cataracts, and is seeing rising numbers of individuals with glaucoma or retinal disease.

In revenue terms, the two largest submarkets are retinal disease and cataract surgery. There are wide differences in surgery between provinces. The 2018 China Ophthalmic Market Report gives province-level snapshots of cataract surgery that illuminate those differences. Significant changes occurred in the retina pharmaceuticals market in 2017 and 2018. The central government added two drugs, Lumitin (conbercept) and Lucentis (ranibizumab), to the essential medicines list for wet AMD, which extended insurance coverage to the use of those drugs, and approved another drug, Eylea (aflibercept) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema.

The China FDA also approved a new high intensity focused ultrasound treatment of glaucoma in 2017, but revenues in the diagnostic and glaucoma areas are being held down by intense competition between domestic device and generic drug manufacturers and the absence of any cultural practice of routine and regular diagnostic examinations. Legal protections for intellectual property traditionally have been weak, and Market Scope will watch for emerging changes as Chinese companies buy foreign technology.

Cataract is the largest surgical submarket in China, with an estimated 2.1 million procedures expected to be performed in 2018.

China has more than 36 thousand ophthalmologists, but a shortage of trained surgeons is holding the profession back from meeting the need for treatment. We foresee training programs driving the replacement of extracapsular cataract extraction and manual small incision cataract surgery with ultrasonic phacoemulsification and femtosecond laser cataract surgery. However, Market Scope does not expect China to catch up to India’s cataract surgery rate in the next five years.

China is the world’s largest market for laser vision correction, despite the fact that insurance plans don’t cover it. Private providers have taken the lead in commercializing refractive surgery, but prospects for growth are dampened by a falloff in the number of people entering their twenties. Alternative technologies, such as corneal cross-linking and phakic IOLs, are starting to get a toehold in the market. There is significant interest in presbyopia correction, and China is poised to take a leading role in developing presbyopia-related technologies.

Market Scope’s forecast also examines in depth the outlook for surgical instruments and single-use surgical devices. We have identified more than 140 companies competing in China’s ophthalmic products market. Our forecast is for mainland China and excludes Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

Market Scope’s “2018 China Ophthalmic Market Report” is in its 3rd edition. For more information, call us at (314) 835-0600 or visit our website at


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