The Contact Lens Event of the Year
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, EDITOR
I asked our contributing and consulting editors and many others in the contact lens industry to name the most important event of 1997. I got some blank faces, but I also got some good e-mail messages.
A number of products -- Polymer Technology/Bausch & Lomb's Boston MultiVision RGP multifocal and B&L's ReNu MultiPlus solution, Alcon's SupraClens, Sunsoft Multiples planned replacement toric, Paragon's HDS material, Menicon's Z material, Biocompatibles' Compatibles lens and Vistakon's Vistavues and UV absorber and AV marks for its Acuvue and Surevue lenses -- were mentioned. The UPS strike was mentioned. Most would agree, there's nothing revolutionary here except for more tools for the toolbox to manage the millions of contact lens wearers and potential wearers, and prevent dropouts better than ever. And continued growth in sales of contact lenses is projected based primarily on the huge buying power of our teen-agers. We might even get comfortable recommending contact lenses if we believe they're profitable.
Competition in the planned replacement toric soft contact lens market continues to heat up with market leader CIBA Vision being challenged by B&L's Optima multi-packs, CooperVision's Preference toric, Sunsoft Multiples torics, Specialty Ultravision's Specialty T-FRP and Biocompatibles' Taylor Made Toric. Could the availability of planned replacement torics be the event of the year? There are so many factors shaping our field.
RGP labs are encouraging practitioners to use corneal mapping for fitting, a concept embraced by young practitioners who are not as likely to be knowledgeable about fitting RGPs using fluorescein alone. Punctal plugs for contact lens wearers continues to gain more acceptance as a method to combat dry eye. We've all seen PRK and LASIK patients give up their contact lenses forever, and I've talked with plenty of O.D.s who love what they're being paid to comanage refractive surgery patients. But teen-agers can't have refractive surgery yet. Perhaps extended wear contact lenses will challenge refractive surgery and be a big hit with teens. And anyone having the money and fortitude could sell a multi-pack, high Dk RGP for extended wear with reasonable expectations for success.
Our choice for the contact lens event of 1997? The increased use of the Internet for contact lens information. Nearly every organization and company in the contact lens field now has a Web site for practitioners and patients, and chat lines proliferate. Be sure to visit www.clspectrum.com for a comprehensive archive of contact lens information and www.cltoday.com for your weekly update on contact lenses and other vision care news