China’s Ophthalmic Market to Grow to $4 Billion by 2022

March 16, 2017: By Peter Downs

Market Scope forecasts that China’s $2.7 billion ophthalmic market will grow at a compound annual rate of 8.5 percent to $4.0 billion in 2022 in constant currency terms.

China, the most populous country in the world, 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 people with glaucoma or retinal disease.

Despite China’s slowing economy, the country is seeing increased access to medical care, increasing government spending on health, and a growing supplemental health insurance market. Such increased spending, along with more private spending from a growing population of people age 65 and older, will fuel most of the growth in the ophthalmic market. Wide variation exists between provinces, however.

Over the last two years, China has instituted wide-ranging reforms in the regulatory system for medical devices and pharmaceuticals, designed to speed the approval of new products, improve the quality of health care, and develop China’s manufacturing capacity in medical technology.

Global companies seeking to do business in China will face increasing competition from Chinese companies as the latter acquire the capacity to develop more advanced products and benefit from “Buy China” rules.

In revenue terms, the two largest submarkets are retinal disease and cataract surgery, and Market Scope’s recently published 2017 China Ophthalmic Market Report gives province-level snapshots of cataract surgery.

China’s eye care system has lacked 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, but the government has turned increasingly to entrepreneurs and private businesses to fill the gap. Rising personal incomes and 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 in the process of creating the world’s largest ophthalmic market. Our estimates do not include the market for traditional Chinese medicines.

China is an early adopter of mobile diagnostic technologies and telemedicine, and several efforts are underway to improve the diagnostic capabilities of rural and community ophthalmologists and link them to specialists in university settings and urban hospitals via telemedicine. Those efforts will be a driving force in expanding the diagnostic equipment market in China.

Retinal disease is the largest ophthalmic market in China, due to the importance of anti-VEGFs in treatment. Retinal diseases, which include pathological myopia, comprise the second leading cause of blindness in China. Pathological myopia leading to myopic macular degeneration is much more common in China than in Europe or North America. Screening for retinal disease is not routine, and retinal disease treatment typically is not covered by public health insurance schemes. However, we expect rising incomes and improved access to diagnosis and treatment to drive revenue growth in this category.

With an estimated 1.9 million procedures performed in 2016, cataract is the largest surgical submarket in China. A shortage of trained surgeons is holding the profession back 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-assisted cataract surgery, which is just beginning to have a presence in the market.

Glaucoma, the third largest ophthalmic submarket in China, also is largely a pharmaceutical market. While the main driver of revenue growth will be better access to Western-style glaucoma medicines, we see laser use increasing faster than medication use and a large pent-up demand for approval of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery devices. There is plenty of room for improvement in this sector. The majority of glaucoma sufferers still will not get treatment.

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 fall-off 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, and there is significant interest in presbyopia correction.

The growing dry eye market is shaped by a product unique to China, a recombinant bovine basic fibroblast growth factor.

Market Scope’s forecast also examines in depth the outlook for surgical instruments and single-use surgical devices. We have identified 90 global manufacturers and 40 Chinese companies competing in China’s ophthalmic products market. Our forecast is for mainland China only, excluding Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

Market Scope is pleased to announce the availability of the “2017 China Ophthalmic Market Report: An Analysis for 2016 to 2022.” Click the following link: 2017 China Ophthalmic Market Report: An Analysis for 2016 to 2022 or call (314) 835-0600 for more information.

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