Photocoagulation, SLT, YAG Lasers Still Play Important Role in Market

June 9, 2016: By Market Scope

Global revenues for ophthalmic lasers (photocoagulation, photodisruption [YAG], and SLT), along with maintenance, accessories, and endoprobes, will total $421 million in 2016 and grow at a compounded rate of 4.1 percent from 2016 to 2021, according to Market Scope estimates.

Growth is expected due to expanding access to advanced medical treatment (retinal surgery and glaucoma treatment) in the developing world, rapid growth in the global population segment over age 65 with higher prevalence of retinal disease and glaucoma, and new technology that increases the effectiveness and uses of ophthalmic lasers. In addition, new laser features and technology will provide manufacturers an opportunity to increase average prices. These trends are offset by an increasingly competitive global market for ophthalmic lasers, resulting in lower average selling prices for basic laser models.

Ophthalmologists use lasers to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions, but they primarily use the devices to treat retinal disease, glaucoma, and a common complication to cataract surgery. Use of lasers to treat these ophthalmic conditions has been common practice for more than 25 years, but the devices became commonplace beginning in the mid-1990s with the introduction of diode lasers to replace older gas lasers. Other key technology milestones include the market introduction of the SLT laser in 2001 and the pattern photocoagulation laser in 2005.

Today, the devices are an integral part of standard therapy, and ophthalmologists and patients generally view these lasers as a minimally invasive treatment option. Many ophthalmic subspecialists, including those focused on the treatment of glaucoma, retinal conditions, and cataracts, view the devices as indispensable components in their treatment toolkit and insist on having lasers in their office. As a result, demand for new lasers is driven primarily by the number of locations and doctors providing laser services and is only indirectly related to the number of procedures.

Ophthalmic lasers have a long life span. The average life span of this equipment differs by category, but it can be as long as 15 years. However, new technology will often make an older design obsolete long before the end of its useful life. Typically, when a new product with significant improvements in technology or treatment is introduced, demand for that product soars as ophthalmologists race to get the latest equipment. However, demand slows after a year or two.

Sales of new lasers account for the majority of ophthalmic laser revenues, with this source providing an estimated 67 percent of the total. Modern lasers are very reliable, and service opportunities on each laser are limited. Many ophthalmologists opt to assume the risk of paying out of pocket for repairs rather than pay for extended service plans.

Nonetheless, there is a large installed base of ophthalmic lasers, and total maintenance revenues account for an estimated 22 percent of market revenues. Another area of opportunity is the single-use endoprobes designed for use in retinal surgery. These account for approximately 10 percent of total ophthalmic market revenues.

Although the ophthalmic laser market is relatively mature, new technologies in early stages of commercialization promise faster growth. Of particular interest is a new glaucoma treatment that shifts a once-invasive procedure to a non-invasive office procedure with a disposable probe. Other advances include automated targeting that promises to reduce collateral damage and increase effectiveness.

Market Scope has identified 19 manufacturers of ophthalmic lasers and accessories; however, eight manufacturers account for almost 81 percent of estimated revenues. Market leaders include Topcon, Lumenis, Iridex, Ellex, and Quantel.


Coming soon

2018 Ophthalmic Laser Report: A Global Market Analysis for 2017 to 2023 (Photocoagulation, Photodisruption, and SLT