At Issue

Changing lifestyles, increasing expectations drive innovation in contact lens market

"At Issue" asked representatives from major contact lens manufacturers to discuss the future of the market.

The contact lens industry continues to thrive and innovate. We have witnessed this in recent years with the migration to daily disposables, the increasing popularity of corneal reshaping and the expanded application of scleral lenses.

Primary Care Optometry News asked experts in this market segment to look into the near future and discuss what is on the horizon in the contact lens arena.

Materials, optics, solutions will improve experience

Jill Saxon

Jill Saxon, OD, FAAO: The contact lens industry continues to be driven by patients’ changing lifestyles. With the dynamics of demographics and the increasing number of hours people are spending on digital devices, there is a growing need for innovations that can keep up with the vision demands in a screen-driven world. That’s why there is a need to evaluate the contact lens products on the market today and use data-driven insights to develop better outcomes and greater access for patients.

These enhancements can come in many forms, including novel material chemistry, advanced optics, expanding parameters across monthly and daily disposable lenses, and introducing additional indications designed to address patients’ needs, such as extended wear. In parallel, it’s important that upgrades in lens solutions are tracking with the advancement of lenses, so that both sets of products work to improve the overall lens-wearing experience.

In addition to bringing advancements in soft contact lenses and solutions, I am confident we are going to see a continued progression with how industry builds upon surface technology for specialty lenses to improve wettability and minimize deposits – all of which are important in creating an exceptional gas-permeable lens wearing experience. And, as patients age, we need to be right there with them, offering options designed to address their changing vision.

For example, presbyopic patients whose primary contact lens options today are monovision or readers over their lenses are looking for more choices, such as a multifocal toric lens, which address both presbyopia and astigmatism without having to use multiple products.

It is an exciting time for eye care, influenced by dynamic demographics and the changing digital world we live in, and I know we can expect to see a continuous increase in the investment of contact lens and lens care research and development to help improve the overall lens-wearing experience of patients.

Disclosure: Saxon is employed by Bausch + Lomb.

Patients will see benefits beyond vision correction

David Turner, PhD: Since the introduction of Acuvue, the first-ever soft, disposable contact lens, just over 30 years ago, contact lenses have transformed vision correction. We stand now at another tipping point for the future of contact lenses, with a focus on developing technologies that not only correct refractive error but go beyond vision correction to deliver other benefits.

David Turner

Take the recent FDA clearance of the first-ever photochromic contact lens, Acuvue Oasys with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology, indicated for the attenuation of bright light. This light-adapting lens is more than a decade in the making and will be available in the U.S. during the first half of 2019. We believe this will be a fantastic lens option for people with light sensitivity.

Another area that we see as a huge opportunity to redefine how contact lenses are used is in the space of drug-eluting contact lenses. The regulatory environment for this kind of product in the U.S. is complex, but we have filed a regulatory application in Japan for a drug-eluting contact lens to help patients with itchy eyes due to ocular allergies. We see this as a significant first step toward opening the door for other combination contact lenses.

A bit further down the road – but also very exciting – is a self-powered contact lens that will dynamically change focus for patients with presbyopia. I’m pleased to say that we have been able to overcome some significant technical hurdles and we are working closely with the FDA on the regulatory pathway for this novel innovation.

With so many great contact lens technologies in the marketplace today, the next wave of truly differentiated contact lenses will need to deliver patients a benefit beyond vision correction.

Disclosure: Turner is employed by Johnson & Johnson Vision.

Digital eye fatigue, myopia control are long-term issues

Michele Andrews, OD: Since the advent of the modern contact lens era, the optometry community has evaluated successful wear in ways that are hard to argue. Are wearers achieving a desired quality of vision? Are they compliant with recommended care regimens? Are they healthy? Are they comfortable? And is the process efficient and effective, making the most sense medically and commercially?

Yet we also tend to look for immediate signs of success: ie, immediately after fitting a new lens, does the patient notice a difference, allowing us to declare victory? Like so many aspects of our profession today undergoing change, those quick-win measures need to be reconsidered, especially as new technologies, products, therapies and care models enter the equation.

Michele Andrews

Consider blue light filtering devices, still currently confined to the spectacles market. Recommending a particular lens or screen filter won’t bring about immediate change in a patient’s quality of sleep or retinal health, yet multiple studies point toward longer-term benefits. Or look to eye vitamins, whose potential benefits are realized over the course of years, if not a lifetime. There really is no magic pill – at least not today.

At CooperVision, our Biofinity Energys contact lenses, the first designed to address some symptoms of digital eye fatigue, are winning over eye care professionals and wearers alike in the U.S. and elsewhere. We have found that the most successful fits incorporate a valuable OD-to-wearer discussion, setting expectations that positive outcomes will materialize over the course of days to weeks, not in the minutes between a trial fit and the exit door.

This is only the start. As myopia management takes greater root in the U.S., shifting patient (and in this case, parent) perspectives from near-term gain to long-term benefit becomes crucial. Granted, speaking about outcomes measured over years when attention spans number in the seconds is challenging. But if practices and professionals are to succeed in moving beyond simple refraction to more holistic care – even therapies – there’s no choice but to begin redefining success. That begins now, and that begins with us.

Disclosure: Andrews is employed by CooperVision.

Comfort, myopia control, corneal reshaping advance

Louise A. Sclafani, OD, FAAO: This question is very time relevant because SynergEyes, thought of as only a hybrid contact lens company, is now deeply dedicated to all the lens modalities queried. In January 2017, we launched the VS Scleral lens in the U.S. Utilizing Menicon Z material and toric landing zones that are linear, rather than curved, allows for more balanced fits to enhance comfort. Our prescribers who are experts and new adopters report “intuitive, simple and consistent” lens fits for even the most challenging cases. This addition, along with UltraHealth hybrid, demonstrates our dedication to the continuum of care for irregular corneas.

Our hybrid lenses continue to progress, and our latest version utilizes Hydra-PEG technology as we partnered with Tangible Science to improve all-day comfort. This relationship led to the recently launched “SimplifEyes,” a daily disposable lens that has Tangible polymer coatings and in the soaking solution. This is the only daily disposable lens available with this technology and available through an online management system for independent practices.

Louise A. Sclafani

Finally, we are truly dedicated to the area of myopia management. Studies utilizing center distance multifocal lenses have had excellent results in reducing myopia and axial elongation (Walline et al). In January 2018, we released the Duette Progressive Center Distance Hybrid Lens. This design offers the benefits of well-centered gas-permeable optics, but also the ability to personalize the fit with various optic zone sizes, base curves and add powers up to +5.00 D. Designed for the presbyope, many doctors are finding success with this lens in the pediatric population. This theory has been demonstrated to be successful in other designs such as extended depth of focus (EDOF) daily disposable lenses (Cooper et al.). In 2018, we received a worldwide licensing agreement with the Brien Holden Vision Institute and its EDOF design, making this modality a viable option for our hybrid platform.

Finally, studies are underway in corneal reshaping utilizing hybrid technology. This area of patient care has had slower-than-expected growth due to limited parent understanding, concerns for overnight wear, compliance and provider skill. Our goal at SynergEyes is to help overcome these obstacles so that we can treat the disease of myopia and have an impact on the vision of future generations.

Disclosure: Sclafani is employed by SynergEyes.

Daily disposables, sclerals will continue to grow

Aaron See: ABB Optical Group is bullish about the future of the contact lens market and the optometry industry overall.

We see continued technological advances in daily disposable lenses and resulting dollar growth, continuing a trend that we have seen over the past several years. In 2017, our same-store sales data indicate that daily disposables captured a market dollar share of 45% compared to 34% for monthlies and 21% for the 2-week modality, and yet in the U.S., daily disposables are still trailing global markets. We project the market share of daily disposables will continue increasing until it eventually meets global benchmarks, with growth exponentially fueled by innovations in toric and multifocal dailies.

Aaron See

Another area of growth in the contact lens market is scleral lenses, which are on a sharp upward trajectory, with more than 40% growth year-to-date.

If there is one thing that is certain, it is that the optical industry is currently facing one of the most dynamic times in recent history. There is no shortage of marketplace disruptors, with the emergence of online refractions, contact lens subscription models and a whole host of new entrants to the optical landscape. While each can certainly present competitive threats to how practitioners manage their practices today, they also present opportunity. We need to evolve, embrace change and identify how we can harness the evolving marketplace in a way that supports the growth of independent optometry and, ultimately, delivers on stronger practitioner-patient experiences while elevating patient care. There has never been more opportunity on the horizon.

By embracing change and innovation, we know the industry will continue to thrive and prosper.

Disclosure: See is employed by ABB Optical Group.

Presbyopia market shows most promise

Rick Weisbarth, OD, FAAO: Alcon’s line-up of eye care products across our vision care and surgical businesses is intended to enhance sight and improve lives. With a rich history of research and development, including an annual research and development investment of half a billion U.S. dollars, Alcon continually looks at areas that are driven by customer need and patient demand.

Rick Weisbarth

In terms of contact lens innovation specifically, we are focused on five key areas: presbyopia, improving outcomes for patients with corneal aberrations, comfort, pathological myopia, and dry eye and ocular health.

While we are making significant investments across all of these areas, the presbyopia market shows the most promise over the next 12 to 24 months. Presbyopia affects nearly 2 billion people worldwide, according to Market Scope. By 2020, there will be roughly 1,800 presbyopes for each optometrist, yet only a small percentage of optometrists (13%) are currently fitting most multifocal contact lenses (AOA, U.S. Census Bureau, Morgan et al.).

With the number of presbyopes continuing to grow, offering multifocal contact lenses to patients and learning tips and techniques to maximize success meets a key patient need as well as offers real opportunity for practice growth. Alcon believes in partnering with eye care professionals to help ensure presbyopes have access to innovative and materially differentiated multifocal contact lenses.

To take this commitment a step further, we will be introducing new products in this category in the coming months that add to our portfolio and myriad programs created to provide comfortable and clear, seamless vision – near, far and everything in between.

Disclosure: Weisbarth is employed by Alcon.

The contact lens industry continues to thrive and innovate. We have witnessed this in recent years with the migration to daily disposables, the increasing popularity of corneal reshaping and the expanded application of scleral lenses.

Primary Care Optometry News asked experts in this market segment to look into the near future and discuss what is on the horizon in the contact lens arena.

Materials, optics, solutions will improve experience

Jill Saxon

Jill Saxon, OD, FAAO: The contact lens industry continues to be driven by patients’ changing lifestyles. With the dynamics of demographics and the increasing number of hours people are spending on digital devices, there is a growing need for innovations that can keep up with the vision demands in a screen-driven world. That’s why there is a need to evaluate the contact lens products on the market today and use data-driven insights to develop better outcomes and greater access for patients.

These enhancements can come in many forms, including novel material chemistry, advanced optics, expanding parameters across monthly and daily disposable lenses, and introducing additional indications designed to address patients’ needs, such as extended wear. In parallel, it’s important that upgrades in lens solutions are tracking with the advancement of lenses, so that both sets of products work to improve the overall lens-wearing experience.

In addition to bringing advancements in soft contact lenses and solutions, I am confident we are going to see a continued progression with how industry builds upon surface technology for specialty lenses to improve wettability and minimize deposits – all of which are important in creating an exceptional gas-permeable lens wearing experience. And, as patients age, we need to be right there with them, offering options designed to address their changing vision.

For example, presbyopic patients whose primary contact lens options today are monovision or readers over their lenses are looking for more choices, such as a multifocal toric lens, which address both presbyopia and astigmatism without having to use multiple products.

It is an exciting time for eye care, influenced by dynamic demographics and the changing digital world we live in, and I know we can expect to see a continuous increase in the investment of contact lens and lens care research and development to help improve the overall lens-wearing experience of patients.

Disclosure: Saxon is employed by Bausch + Lomb.

PAGE BREAK

Patients will see benefits beyond vision correction

David Turner, PhD: Since the introduction of Acuvue, the first-ever soft, disposable contact lens, just over 30 years ago, contact lenses have transformed vision correction. We stand now at another tipping point for the future of contact lenses, with a focus on developing technologies that not only correct refractive error but go beyond vision correction to deliver other benefits.

David Turner

Take the recent FDA clearance of the first-ever photochromic contact lens, Acuvue Oasys with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology, indicated for the attenuation of bright light. This light-adapting lens is more than a decade in the making and will be available in the U.S. during the first half of 2019. We believe this will be a fantastic lens option for people with light sensitivity.

Another area that we see as a huge opportunity to redefine how contact lenses are used is in the space of drug-eluting contact lenses. The regulatory environment for this kind of product in the U.S. is complex, but we have filed a regulatory application in Japan for a drug-eluting contact lens to help patients with itchy eyes due to ocular allergies. We see this as a significant first step toward opening the door for other combination contact lenses.

A bit further down the road – but also very exciting – is a self-powered contact lens that will dynamically change focus for patients with presbyopia. I’m pleased to say that we have been able to overcome some significant technical hurdles and we are working closely with the FDA on the regulatory pathway for this novel innovation.

With so many great contact lens technologies in the marketplace today, the next wave of truly differentiated contact lenses will need to deliver patients a benefit beyond vision correction.

Disclosure: Turner is employed by Johnson & Johnson Vision.

PAGE BREAK

Digital eye fatigue, myopia control are long-term issues

Michele Andrews, OD: Since the advent of the modern contact lens era, the optometry community has evaluated successful wear in ways that are hard to argue. Are wearers achieving a desired quality of vision? Are they compliant with recommended care regimens? Are they healthy? Are they comfortable? And is the process efficient and effective, making the most sense medically and commercially?

Yet we also tend to look for immediate signs of success: ie, immediately after fitting a new lens, does the patient notice a difference, allowing us to declare victory? Like so many aspects of our profession today undergoing change, those quick-win measures need to be reconsidered, especially as new technologies, products, therapies and care models enter the equation.

Michele Andrews

Consider blue light filtering devices, still currently confined to the spectacles market. Recommending a particular lens or screen filter won’t bring about immediate change in a patient’s quality of sleep or retinal health, yet multiple studies point toward longer-term benefits. Or look to eye vitamins, whose potential benefits are realized over the course of years, if not a lifetime. There really is no magic pill – at least not today.

At CooperVision, our Biofinity Energys contact lenses, the first designed to address some symptoms of digital eye fatigue, are winning over eye care professionals and wearers alike in the U.S. and elsewhere. We have found that the most successful fits incorporate a valuable OD-to-wearer discussion, setting expectations that positive outcomes will materialize over the course of days to weeks, not in the minutes between a trial fit and the exit door.

This is only the start. As myopia management takes greater root in the U.S., shifting patient (and in this case, parent) perspectives from near-term gain to long-term benefit becomes crucial. Granted, speaking about outcomes measured over years when attention spans number in the seconds is challenging. But if practices and professionals are to succeed in moving beyond simple refraction to more holistic care – even therapies – there’s no choice but to begin redefining success. That begins now, and that begins with us.

Disclosure: Andrews is employed by CooperVision.

PAGE BREAK

Comfort, myopia control, corneal reshaping advance

Louise A. Sclafani, OD, FAAO: This question is very time relevant because SynergEyes, thought of as only a hybrid contact lens company, is now deeply dedicated to all the lens modalities queried. In January 2017, we launched the VS Scleral lens in the U.S. Utilizing Menicon Z material and toric landing zones that are linear, rather than curved, allows for more balanced fits to enhance comfort. Our prescribers who are experts and new adopters report “intuitive, simple and consistent” lens fits for even the most challenging cases. This addition, along with UltraHealth hybrid, demonstrates our dedication to the continuum of care for irregular corneas.

Our hybrid lenses continue to progress, and our latest version utilizes Hydra-PEG technology as we partnered with Tangible Science to improve all-day comfort. This relationship led to the recently launched “SimplifEyes,” a daily disposable lens that has Tangible polymer coatings and in the soaking solution. This is the only daily disposable lens available with this technology and available through an online management system for independent practices.

Louise A. Sclafani

Finally, we are truly dedicated to the area of myopia management. Studies utilizing center distance multifocal lenses have had excellent results in reducing myopia and axial elongation (Walline et al). In January 2018, we released the Duette Progressive Center Distance Hybrid Lens. This design offers the benefits of well-centered gas-permeable optics, but also the ability to personalize the fit with various optic zone sizes, base curves and add powers up to +5.00 D. Designed for the presbyope, many doctors are finding success with this lens in the pediatric population. This theory has been demonstrated to be successful in other designs such as extended depth of focus (EDOF) daily disposable lenses (Cooper et al.). In 2018, we received a worldwide licensing agreement with the Brien Holden Vision Institute and its EDOF design, making this modality a viable option for our hybrid platform.

Finally, studies are underway in corneal reshaping utilizing hybrid technology. This area of patient care has had slower-than-expected growth due to limited parent understanding, concerns for overnight wear, compliance and provider skill. Our goal at SynergEyes is to help overcome these obstacles so that we can treat the disease of myopia and have an impact on the vision of future generations.

Disclosure: Sclafani is employed by SynergEyes.

PAGE BREAK

Daily disposables, sclerals will continue to grow

Aaron See: ABB Optical Group is bullish about the future of the contact lens market and the optometry industry overall.

We see continued technological advances in daily disposable lenses and resulting dollar growth, continuing a trend that we have seen over the past several years. In 2017, our same-store sales data indicate that daily disposables captured a market dollar share of 45% compared to 34% for monthlies and 21% for the 2-week modality, and yet in the U.S., daily disposables are still trailing global markets. We project the market share of daily disposables will continue increasing until it eventually meets global benchmarks, with growth exponentially fueled by innovations in toric and multifocal dailies.

Aaron See

Another area of growth in the contact lens market is scleral lenses, which are on a sharp upward trajectory, with more than 40% growth year-to-date.

If there is one thing that is certain, it is that the optical industry is currently facing one of the most dynamic times in recent history. There is no shortage of marketplace disruptors, with the emergence of online refractions, contact lens subscription models and a whole host of new entrants to the optical landscape. While each can certainly present competitive threats to how practitioners manage their practices today, they also present opportunity. We need to evolve, embrace change and identify how we can harness the evolving marketplace in a way that supports the growth of independent optometry and, ultimately, delivers on stronger practitioner-patient experiences while elevating patient care. There has never been more opportunity on the horizon.

By embracing change and innovation, we know the industry will continue to thrive and prosper.

Disclosure: See is employed by ABB Optical Group.

PAGE BREAK

Presbyopia market shows most promise

Rick Weisbarth, OD, FAAO: Alcon’s line-up of eye care products across our vision care and surgical businesses is intended to enhance sight and improve lives. With a rich history of research and development, including an annual research and development investment of half a billion U.S. dollars, Alcon continually looks at areas that are driven by customer need and patient demand.

Rick Weisbarth

In terms of contact lens innovation specifically, we are focused on five key areas: presbyopia, improving outcomes for patients with corneal aberrations, comfort, pathological myopia, and dry eye and ocular health.

While we are making significant investments across all of these areas, the presbyopia market shows the most promise over the next 12 to 24 months. Presbyopia affects nearly 2 billion people worldwide, according to Market Scope. By 2020, there will be roughly 1,800 presbyopes for each optometrist, yet only a small percentage of optometrists (13%) are currently fitting most multifocal contact lenses (AOA, U.S. Census Bureau, Morgan et al.).

With the number of presbyopes continuing to grow, offering multifocal contact lenses to patients and learning tips and techniques to maximize success meets a key patient need as well as offers real opportunity for practice growth. Alcon believes in partnering with eye care professionals to help ensure presbyopes have access to innovative and materially differentiated multifocal contact lenses.

To take this commitment a step further, we will be introducing new products in this category in the coming months that add to our portfolio and myriad programs created to provide comfortable and clear, seamless vision – near, far and everything in between.

Disclosure: Weisbarth is employed by Alcon.