Knowledge of differences in the demographics of contact lens prescribing between nations, and changes over time, can assist (a) the contact lens industry in developing and promoting various product types in different world regions, and (b) practitioners in understanding their prescribing habits in an international context. Data that we have gathered from annual contact lens fitting surveys conducted in Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA between 2000 and 2008 reveal an ageing demographic, with Japan being the most youthful. The majority of fits are to females, with statistically significant differences between nations, ranging from 62 per cent of fits in Norway to 68 per cent in Japan. The small overall decline in the proportion of new fits, and commensurate increase in refits, over the survey period may indicate a growing rate of conversion of lens wearers to more advanced lens types, such as silicone hydrogels. © 2009 British Contact Lens Association.