The Contact Lens Event Of The Year
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
The year 2001 started with some great expectations of increased use of specialty astigmatic and presbyopic disposable contact lenses. In early 2001, we even thought there would be an increased use of daily disposable lenses. We wondered if this new millennium would bring increased interest in 30-day continuous wear, including overnight orthokeratology.
Certainly a global economy that is not the healthiest and the tragic events of September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Towers in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania had an impact on all of our lives. In general, total contact lenses sales in 2001 were neither up nor down in the United States.
We asked our contributing and consulting editors what they thought was the Contact Lens Spectrum Event of the Year for 2001. There is no question that the FDA's approval of silicone-hydrogel 30-day continuous wear lenses is the most significant event of 2001. These new materials, now available throughout the world for 30-day wear, are remarkable scientific breakthroughs. Not only will CIBA Vision and Bausch & Lomb be able to educate U.S. practitioners about 30-day wear, but consumer advertising will no doubt lead to a substantial increase in the number of our patients wearing lenses for weeks at a time. This is especially true now that refractive surgery problems are more widely recognized. Indeed, most refractive error patients do not want refractive surgery, and late in 2001, after September 11, the refractive surgery business dropped precipitously in the United States. It will be only a matter of time until specialty designs in these new silicone hydrogel materials are available. Although soft contact lenses were FDA approved for 30 days in the early 1980s and later limited to seven-day wear, this time the approval is more likely to stick.