The Contact Lens Event of 2004: the FCLCA
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
Whom should I acknowledge and congratulate for the 2004 Contact Lens Spectrum Event of the Year? Whose picture should we place on our cover as Time magazine does for its person of the year? Should we use Richard Burr (R-NC), AOA attorney Jeff Mays, 1-800 Contacts' Jonathan Koon, all of the U.S. contact lens wearers?
I try to resist predicting events in our industry or how they'll affect our field because I've learned, surprisingly, that I'm not always right. But I did get this one right. The Federal Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) got a lot of attention, but it's really had little short-term impact on our day-to-day practices. Oh sure, it still causes many of us much angst. But it's probably also made us better business people and perhaps it's even made us further emphasize the importance of service and further resist significant markups on the contact lens materials we rightfully sell. It's probably also made us better healthcare providers. Improper lens sales will surely continue, but to a lesser degree, and many of our patients will receive more frequent care. And thankfully, numerous new products are available that allow us to provide healthier, safer and more comfortable contact lens wear. Let's look at a few of those great new products, one that will return to the U.S. market this year and what we expect as we enter 2005.
In 2004, Vistakon emphasized its new disposable, inherently wettable silicone hydrogel lens, Acuvue Advance, for daily wear. In the fourth quarter of 2004, CIBA Vision introduced its new silicone hydrogel material as a daily wear disposable lens, O2Optix, which the FDA later approved for up to one week of extended wear. We've no doubt that lens companies will introduce specialty, toric and bifocal silicone hydrogels in rapid succession over the next months and few years. Some industry experts expect as many as a dozen new products in 2005. Silicone hydrogel will rapidly become the material of choice.
Thankfully, as a result of a settlement between CIBA Vision and Bausch & Lomb, B&L's PureVision silicone hydrogel lens will re-enter the U.S. market this year. Ocular Sciences, Inc., which CooperVision has acquired, introduced Biomedics Premier with spherical aberration correction. We expect more aberration-control lenses in 2005 and beyond.
Also, as we start a new year at Contact Lens Spectrum, I want to acknowledge the excellent work of my trustworthy colleague Tom Quinn, OD, MS, FAAO, as our clinical features editor and the ongoing great work of Lisa Starcher, our managing editor. And thanks to Karen Rodemich for her work as our assistant editor and on CLToday, our weekly e-mail newsletter.