A slit lamp is a diagnostic instrument commonly used by ophthalmologists and a standard tool in every ophthalmology practice. It is vital to ophthalmology as it considerably expands the diagnostic possibilities for eye care professionals. A slit lamp consists of a bright focal source of light, shone through a slit of variable width or height. It provides illumination and magnification for the examination of many structures of the anterior segment and posterior segment of the eye, which includes the iris, natural crystalline lens, eyelid, sclera, conjunctiva, and cornea. With complementary lenses, it is also used to examine the chamber angle and a significant part of the retina. The use of slit lamps in ophthalmic videography makes it possible to capture practically any diagnostic findings in the form of images, including retinal and squint conditions.
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There is an increase in demand for slit lamps, mainly because of increase in prevalence and incidence of cataracts and other age-related eye disorders. Other factor responsible for steady expansion of the global slit lamp market is the increasing risk of cataracts among the diabetic population. Moreover, technological advancements in slit lamps are fuelling the market. The incidence and prevalence of ophthalmic and ocular conditions across the world are increasing at alarming levels, affecting millions of people. As per the data provided by the National Eye Institute, 7.7 million Americans are suffering from diabetic retinopathy presently, a number that is estimated to swell to 11.3 million by 2030. On similar lines, currently, 24 million Americans are suffering from cataracts, and this figure is likely to reach 38.7 million in 2030. As per the American Association of Ophthalmology (AAO), cataract is one of the major causes of visual impairment and blindness globally, whereas age-related eye disorders are becoming a major problem in developed countries. Increase in incidences of ophthalmic and ocular conditions is likely to drive the slit lamp market in the coming years.
The global geriatric population is increasing at a steady rate. Factors contributing to the rise in the geriatric population are decreasing fertility rates, increased life expectancy due to improved access to better health care facilities across the world, and a rise in awareness about chronic diseases. According to the United Nations (UN) and the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the global geriatric population rose from 562 million in 2012 (8% of total population) to 617 million in 2015 (8.5% of total population) and is expected to reach a staggering 1.4 billion by 2030. Due to these factors, the number of vision correction procedures being performed such as LASIK, cataract surgeries, and other procedures is increasing. Hence, increase in aging population and rise in number of vision correction procedures are responsible for the steady growth of the global slit lamp market.
Additionally, factors such as increase in R&D expenditure, advancements in technology, and development in the field of optical microscopy are expected to drive demand for slit lamps during the forecast period. Key players in the slit lamp market are increasingly focusing on technologically advanced products and end-user specific product development. For instance, beginning with a Comberg design in 1933, which had a common swivel axis for the microscope and illumination, further in 1950, the Littmann design which featured a magnification changer.
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The global slit lamp market can be segmented based on lamp, technology, end-user, and region. Based on lamp, the global slit lamp market can be classified into handheld slit lamps and table mounted slit lamps. The table mounted slit lamps segment can be further divided into low-end (Zeiss Style) or high-end (Haag-Streit style) slit lamps. The high-end slit lamps segment is likely to account for a significant market share during the forecast period due to high unit sales. In terms of end-user, the slit lamp market can be segmented into hospitals, specialty clinics & ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), and others (medical education centers, eye research institutes, and laboratories).
Based on region, the global slit lamp market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America dominates the global slit lamp market due to the early adoption of highly developed technologies in general health care in the region. Asia Pacific is anticipated to be a highly attractive region of the market during the forecast period due to the existence of a large patient pool and initiatives by governments to undertake various control programs.
Key players contributing to the expansion of the market include Haag-Streit, Topcon Medical Systems, Inc., Carl Zeiss Meditec AG, Optovue Incorporated, MEDELSIS Medical Electronic Systems A.S., Marco, Reichert, Inc., Genop Healthcare, OCULUS Optikgeräte GmbH, Keeler, and Quantel Medical.