The fast-growing eyewear market was valued at around $100 billion in 2015, according to U.S.-based market consulting company Grand View Research. It is expected to keep expanding at a healthy pace in coming years because of an ageing population as well as increasing awareness about eye care and vision problems, with Latin America and Asia seen as key markets for growth.
The Financial Times reported that Del Vecchio would become executive chairman of the merged group and Essilor's chairman and chief executive, Hubert Sagnieres, 60, will become executive vice-chairman.
Luxottica has been dogged by management upheaval in recent years, raising questions over Del Vecchio's succession plans and strategy. Some insiders have said a merger could help settle such issues.
Luxottica announced in January 2016 the departure of its third chief executive in 17 months when Adil Mehboob-Khan, a former Procter & Gamble executive, stepped down and Del Vecchio tightened his grip on the group by taking on executive powers.
Long-standing CEO Andrea Guerra quit in 2014 following a rift with Del Vecchio. His successor, Enrico Cavatorta, left after only six weeks into the job, also because of differences with Del Vecchio.
Through Delfin, Del Vecchio, who founded Luxottica in 1961, owns 62 percent of the group, which had revenues of 9 billion euros in 2015, according to Luxottica's website. Fashion designer Giorgio Armani has a 5 percent stake in the Italian group.
Luxottica cut its full-year outlook in July, blaming uncertain markets, as global security threats cloud the outlook for tourism and consumer spending.
The group said in September 2014 that a deal with Essilor had been explored about a year and a half earlier but was not pursued at the time because the right conditions were not in place.
Back then, it cited shareholding governance issues among the reasons why the deal had not gone ahead. In March and April last year, Luxottica denied press reports of a possible tie-up with Essilor and Germany's Carl Zeiss, saying the only relationship it had with the two groups was that they both were among its suppliers.
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