NEW YORK – The contact lenses of the future will go far beyond the correction of refractive error, according to a speaker here at the Global Contact Lens Forum, held prior to Vision Expo East.
“Myopia has become a massive global burden,” Lyndon Jones, PhD, FCOptom, DipCLP, DipOrth, FAAO, FIACLE, told attendees. “It is estimated that the number of those with myopia will grow from 1.6 billion to 2.5 billion by the year 2020.”
Researchers are finding success in reducing myopia and myopic progression by controlling peripheral aberration and using orthokeratology and bifocal contact lenses, he said.
“There are a number of studies using soft lens designs to slow the progression of myopia,” Jones said. “This will be a big part of practice in the future.”
One such product is commercially available in the Far East: MiSight ActivControl Technology from CooperVision, he said. The daily disposable is made of omafilcon A and has a multizone, dual-focus design.
“We will be telling parents their children need contact lenses to prevent myopia, not correct it,” Jones said.
Contact lenses are also being used to monitor IOP, he said.
“Sensimed Triggerfish is a commercially available device with a tiny embedded strain gauge to monitor the curvature of your eye and IOP over 24 hours,” Jones said.
The single-use product is three times thicker than traditional lenses, he added.
Google announced in January that it is developing a glucose sensor in a contact lens, Jones said.
Cancer monitoring is another potential area.
“There’s good evidence that a certain marker in the tear film, lacryglobin, is elevated in patients who develop breast, colon, lung, prostate and ovarian cancer,” Jones said.
Researchers are also studying the use of contact lenses to deliver therapeutic agents, he said, to combat the issues with instilling drops.
“I’ve been part of a $12 million Canadian government grant, combined with industry, looking at developing new ophthalmic materials for ocular drug delivery for the front and back of the eye,” Jones said. “We’ve trained over 100 graduate students, written 50 papers and have 12 patents. We’re looking to get another 5 years of funding.”
Earlier studies showed that drugs such as ciprofloxacin were completely eluted from commercially available contact lenses within 2 hours, he said.
“However, through using molecular imprinting technologies we’ve gotten ciprofloxacin to be eluted at therapeutically relevant levels for up to 14 days,” Jones said.
A number of groups are looking at this technology for use with anti-inflammatories, anti-infectives, anti-glaucoma agents, epidermal growth factor and anti-allergy agents, he said.
The introduction of Google Glass brings contacts into the entertainment realm, Jones said.
“This seems like science fiction, but it is not,” he said. “In the future you could be checking your emails, watching a movie and getting news updates through your contact lenses or spectacles.”
Disclosures: Jones has received research funding or honoraria from: Abbott Medical Optics, Advanced Vision Research, Alcon, AlgiPharma, Allergan, Bausch + Lomb, CIBA Vision, CooperVision, Essilor, Johnson & Johnson, Oculus, TearScience and Visioneering Technologies. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS