March 08, 2013
1 min read

Alcon plans U.S. launch of water-gradient contacts later this year

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ATLANTA – Executives from Alcon Laboratories discussed the technology behind the company’s new daily disposable contact lens as well as its plans to launch it in the U.S. later in 2013, here at a press conference during the SECO meeting.

Richard E. Weisbarth, OD, FAAO, Alcon vice president of professional affairs, said that the European launch of the lens is “doing fantastic,” and the lens will be launched in the U.K. this week.

Eric Bauman, OD, FAAO, Alcon’s program head of vision care research and development, told attendees that the development of water-gradient contact lenses “is the largest commitment this company has made to a contact lens.”

One out of six contact lens wearers drop out, Bauman said, and the No. 1 reason is discomfort.

“Patients believe discomfort is the price you pay for wearing contacts,” he said.

Bauman explained that the silicone hydrogel core of the new lens is 33% water, and the hydrogel surface is more than 80% water, close to the water content of the cornea, he said.

The “water-loving” polymer chains on the surface help reduce friction and minimize lens-eye interaction. “There is no silicone present [on the surface],” he said.

Private practitioner April Jasper, OD, FAAO, shared her 6-month experience with the lens.

“I was amazed by the way patients reacted to it from day one,” she told attendees at the press conference. “Patients don’t realize they have the lens in their eye upon insertion, then they come back and say the lens felt the same at the end of the day.

“I see this as a first-line lens for anyone unless there’s a medical reason they can’t wear lenses,” she added. “We know daily single-use lenses are the most compliant; now we can address comfort.”

Weisbarth concluded: “We plan on expanding this into a whole family of lenses,” he said. “Minus powers in sphere, then plus powers, torics, multifocal, monthly. We envision this as a new lens category.”

Disclosure: Jasper is a paid consultant to Alcon.