Vision Identified as Key Driver of Health and Personal Performance Outcomes in New Report from the VSP Global® Innovation Center

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RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – Today, the VSP Global Innovation Center released findings from a new report that identified vision as a key force in cutting-edge technologies and startup companies poised to shape the future of eye care and eyewear. Created in collaboration with CB Insights, “The Future of Personal Performance,” identified five major trends that indicate where new opportunities for innovation exist as consumers increasingly seek ways to improve physical, mental, emotional, social and professional performance.

“Applications that were once only accessible to elite athletes or through rare medical trials are now available to everyday consumers thanks to developing technology, economies of scale, increased consumer demand, and startup investments from major brands,” said Senior Director of the VSP Global Innovation Center Ruth Yomtoubian. “This report provides our team with valuable insights to consider as we work to meet the future needs of our members, clients, and network doctors.”

Topline findings include:

  1. Consumers turn the dial on their quantified selves.

Performance optimization isn’t achievable without data. The good news is that consumers are increasingly adopting self-tracking practices, allowing companies to expand the breadth and depth of how performance data is collected. However, quantitative data is no longer enough. Consumer expectations are changing about how their quantified self-data should be used and presented. They’re gravitating toward solutions that not only collect data but also interpret it for them, providing actionable insights about their strengths, weaknesses, and plans for improvement.

  1. The eye becomes a tool for more than 20/20 vision.

Eye care professionals have long known that the eyes offer a window into overall health, and the report findings show that innovators and other companies have taken notice too. Startup funding has doubled in this space since 2016 as more and more companies are using the eye-brain connection to benefit consumers in multiple ways.

Some startups are developing less invasive methods to provide early detection of diseases afflicting the brain, like Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and more; while other emerging technology is using AI-powered eye tracking as a communication tool allowing people with disabilities to live more independently. For example, ventilated patients and individuals who cannot speak, could communicate using only eye movements. The report also pointed to a UK-based painter who lives with ALS and uses technology to create art with her eyes.

Gaining a physical performance edge through eye training technology is also increasing in popularity. Innovations in this space include eyewear devices that manipulate visual stimuli to strengthen connections between the eye and other sensory systems that force the brain to fill in the gaps and anticipate movement. This sharpens and streamlines vision, in turn improving eye-hand coordination, movement, balance, and reaction time.

  1. Bio-boosting nutrition gets personal.

Bio-boosting nutrition refers to functional foods, beverages, and ingredients — like supplements or meal plans — that offer health benefits beyond just nutritional value. Increasingly, consumers are turning to these products and services as a way to take their health and wellness into their own hands. In fact, 69% of consumers take supplements to support their immune health.

“Eye care professionals have been using nutraceuticals to improve patient outcomes for years, but new technology is enabling custom formulations to meet unique needs. Whether we’re treating dry eye, AMD, or other ocular issues, a customized approach allows us to recommend the right vitamin and nutrient levels for each patient. It’s no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach thanks to continued product innovation and increased consumer demand,” said VSP Global Vice President of Eye Care Solutions Dr. Valerie Sheety-Pilon, in the report.

Immune boosters and nutritional supplements have also experienced skyrocketing consumer demand and innovation interest throughout the pandemic. The report found that 65 percent of consumers are currently worried about their immunity and 45 percent are consuming more immune-boosting food and beverage products than they did before the Covid-19 crisis.

  1. Full-sensory immersion enables performance.

Immersive technology manipulates one’s sensory environment by enhancing, distorting, or removing external stimuli (e.g., light, sound, temperature, pressure, etc.) to produce specific effects. Some startups are helping those who suffer from light sensitivity and headaches by using specific bands of light to generate negligible electrical signals in the eye and brain, while others are using wearables to produce subtle vibrations to impact the nervous system as a way to reduce stress and improve sleep.

“There are a lot of exciting developments taking place right now in immersive technologies and sensory stimulation. Given the connection between the eyes and the brain, we’re particularly interested in exploring the use of light spectrums to help improve a person’s health and well-being,” said VSP Global Chief Operating Officer Earnie Franklin, in the report.

  1. Bionic technology powers superhuman capabilities.

Bionic technology, or bionics, are a unique class of performance enhancement where the technology itself is responsible for the performance gains, as opposed to the human body. From artificial retinas (bionic eye) to robotic extremities (bionic hand), these devices effectively act as replacements and extensions of the human body, though there’s typically some training required to operate them effectively. While the technology for this trend is still in relatively early stages of development, accelerated efforts are offering promise for more affordable solutions in the future for consumers.

The VSP Global Innovation Center is actively looking to partner with organizations to develop and deliver life-improving products, experiences, and services for the company’s clients, members and network doctors. Get in touch with us at globalinnovationcenter@vsp.com.

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About VSP Global

VSP Global is a doctor-governed company that exists to create value for members and opportunities for VSP network doctors. Our industry-leading businesses include VSP® Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eye care for nearly 90 million members through a network of over 40,000 doctors worldwide; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high-quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services, providing custom lens solutions for the vision and lifestyle needs of patients; Eyefinity®, the industry leader in practice management and electronic health record software; VSP Retail, which focuses on increasing access to eye care and eyewear through multiple channels, and VSP® Ventures, which offers care-focused, customized choices for doctors looking to transition their practice.

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