Too Little Objective Research in Contact Lenses
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, EDITOR
Clinical medical research is well funded by the National Institutes of Health, though some would argue that there should be more funding for valid scientific investigation. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, AIDS and many other life-threatening conditions are highly funded. Eye research receives a fair piece of this funding through the National Eye Institute. NEI will spend about $450 million on eye research this year. Contact lens manufacturers may spend $300 to $400 million on contact lens development. Of course, very little of this research is immediately important to the contact lens clinician. For example, which bifocal design center near or center distance or monovision is best for the presbyopic contact lens wearer? Which class of lens materials is best for dry eye symptoms? Which solution gives the best comfort? I'm sure you could go on and on.
Our readers tell us they want objective studies more than the company-sponsored studies that we sometimes publish. So do we. The problem is, there is little funding for such studies. To do them correctly, you need adequate funding. The federal government is not going to fund these studies because it is looking at more fundamental questions.
Some would say we shouldn't publish the company-sponsored studies where the sponsor's product always wins. Companies probably don't publish the studies where their products don't win. We believe our readers are intelligent and can read through the bias that some of these positive spin stories relay to the reader. They certainly let the reader know where the company's product stands better than the glitzy advertisements (not that we don't like glitzy ads). We want to tell you the story of contact lenses from as many points of view as possible.