Johnson & Johnson’s Eye Health Business Growing Rapidly

The vision portfolio of Johnson & Johnson has been beefed up in the last couple of years and this has started to pay off. In the last quarter sales of vision care products amounted to $1.12 billion having increased by 34% from $798 million from a similar quarter a year ago.

Johnson & Johnson has made investments in its eye care business as the medical device group of the company gets refined by adding a subscription service for contact lenses and surgical products. According to the chairperson of Johnson & Johnson’s consumer medical devices, Ashley McEvoy, this has resulted in a rapidly-growing platform at the company.

“I would say it really starts with the space of sight, and sight matters, we like to say. It’s one of the largest and fastest growing segments in health care, and we think there’s still a lot of unmet need,” said McEvoy.

Eye surgery

The consumer goods giant made a foray into the eye surgery segment in 2016 after acquiring Abbott Medical Optics at a price of $4.33 billion. The deal was completed early last year and provided Johnson & Johnson with consumer eye health, laser refractive surgery as well as cataract surgery. Johnson & Johnson also acquired TearScience, a firm which builds devices which are used in the treatment of dry eye, as well as Sightbox, a startup which offers a membership-based subscription service for contact lens.

According to Tom Frinzi, the surgical worldwide president at Johnson & Johnson, the vision market is currently very attractive. At the moment the eye health market is worth approximately $80 billion and is the third biggest after cardiology and oncology. About 253 million people are estimated to be living with vision impairment. And while life expectancy rates are going up, cataract surgery is also being done at younger ages. By having surgical products in its portfolio, Johnson & Johnson will be able to serve both young and old patients.

Gaps in the market

Despite the moves Johnson & Johnson has made in the vision business there are still gaps. According to McEvoy the company is absent in the glaucoma and retina space for instance.

Traditionally the treatment of glaucoma has been done using eyedrops which is an imperfect solution. But now there are surgical options which involve the draining of fluid from the eyes of the patient in order to reduce the pressure that comes with the disease. While Johnson & Johnson intends to create its own products for this segment it could also make acquisitions or get into strategic partnerships.

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