We Need the Next Generation of Lenses
By Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
In my editorial last month, I discussed some challenges or threats to contact lenses and contact lens practice. This month, I'd like to turn our attention to some potential opportunities as they relate to the practice of contact lenses, both now and in the not-so-distant future.
To grow the market, we need innovation in the market. We need products that move beyond what we currently have, both in terms of patient need and eyecare practitioner involvement. Will there be a widely needed contact lens that requires actively involved fitting by eyecare practitioners? And will we see this new contact lens by 2020?
In thinking about new product development, it is often useful to think outside the box. It is easy to rationalize to yourself that something is just too far out in left field for it to ever happen, but thinking beyond today's technologies is where the most creative ideas can originate.
I recently had a good colleague write to me from Poland. In her note, she commented that she wished to see a contact lens that could communicate with users in some way (change in color or other visible features) to indicate such things as, “I am dry,” or, “I need to be cleaned,” or, “I need to be replaced,” or, “take me out immediately.” Wouldn't this sort of technology change the landscape in terms of the care of contact lens patients? Who knows, perhaps one day we will have a contact lens that disintegrates when it is supposed to be replaced! As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It's the preview of life's coming attractions!”