5 Demographic Trends Powering Your Eye Care Practice’s Growth

Analysts can sound bleak about your eye care practice’s future as they warn us all about looming profit cuts and rising business expenses. But an upswell of powerful demographic shifts will work in your favor.

1. More and more Baby Boomers are carrying AARP cards. Today, the over-65 crowd makes up 13% of the population. By 2030, that number will swell to 20%. Bonus: Seniors have the lowest poverty rate of any age group.

And they’ll be spending some of that money on eye care co-pays. Seniors consume as much as 10 times the amount of eye care services as younger patients, observes ophthalmic practice management consultant John Pinto. In an Eyecare Business survey earlier this year, 26% of surveyed eye care professionals cited senior care as a projected area of market growth.

2. And there’s youngsters … The number of eye care professionals who believe that pediatric eye care services provide an area for potential growth rose from 8 percent to 20 percent in just one year.

The catch: Children’s eyewear sales seem to be decreasing; the potential for growth lies in pediatric care and exams, according to Eyecare Business.

3. There will be fewer of you to handle all those new patients. The number of ophthalmologists in training is dropping.

The U.S. population has grown by 11 percent over the past decade but the number of residency slots for ophthalmologists has decreased by about 11 percent, according to Pinto.

4. More of you will want to work on flexible schedule. Experts expect a shift in the next generation’s work ethic. It’s already beginning to happen.

A growing number of young ophthalmologists are women, says Pinto, many of whom seek work-life balance and career flexibility.

“Younger ophthalmologists seem to expect higher income levels without the same commitment to work experienced with the baby-boomer doctors,” says Daniel D. Chambers, chief administrative officer at the Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas, TX.

5. Plan early for your retirement. Start looking for a successor yesterday. The bad news about the expected decline in trained ophthalmologists: it will be harder to sell your practice when it’s time to retire. But there’s a solution if you plan ahead, says Pinto.

Instead of finding new ophthalmologists to buy out practices, more ophthalmologists will take on new graduates as associates and remain owners, Pinto predicts. It’s a win-win: Even in retirement, you’ll enjoy a passive income.

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