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What's Exciting about Contact Lenses?
It was easy for me. I came onto the optometric scene when manufacturers were first introducing soft and GP contact lenses. The excitement surrounding these developments dominated educational meetings and eyecare publications. Those were exciting times for contact lens enthusiasts.
Fast forward to today. Many would argue that medical management of ocular conditions is the new, sexy topic of our current times. But to those who say "there's nothing new in contact lenses," consider these developments that have taken place in the past few years.
The evolution of silicone hydrogel lenses has allowed us to break the oxygen barrier associated with hydrogel lenses in which the solubility of oxygen in water limits the maximum oxygen permeability. Silicone hydrogel lenses resolve hypoxic complications that result from hydrogel lens wear, not to mention that CIBA Vision's Night & Day and Bausch & Lomb's PureVision lenses have approval for convenient continuous monthly wear.
Discomfort is the number-one reason patients discontinue contact lens wear. Patients can enjoy improved lens comfort for more hours because of newer, moisture-retaining materials in lenses that include Extreme H2O (Hydrogel Vision Corp.), Proclear Compatibles (CooperVision) and Acuvue Advance with Hydraclear (Vistakon).
In a recent development, Vistakon is launching the Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear Plus, targeting patients who currently experience or who are prone to experience contact lens dryness.
Design and Care Advancements
Manufacturers have developed many new multifocal designs in both soft and GP lenses, providing presbyopes with freedom from spectacles with ever improving visual performance.
Advancements in toric soft lens designs provide enhanced quality and stability of vision with greater access to frequent replacement options for even the most extreme prescriptions.
Intralimbal and semi-scleral GP lens designs such as the Macrolens (C&H Labs) and the Jupiter lens (Innovations in Sight) offer relief to some patients who have irregular corneas and who can't achieve success with more conventional approaches.
Manufacturers continue to develop aberration-correcting lenses in both soft and GP designs. In the soft lens realm, the Biomedics 55 Premier (CooperVision) and Definition AC (Optical Connection, Inc.) aberration-correcting lenses join the Frequency 55 Asphere (CooperVision) and Choice AB (CIBA Vision) front-surface aspheric lenses. GP aberration-correcting lenses include the recently introduced Rose K2 (Blanchard) lens for keratoconus. These designs will continue to improve as we begin to tap this great well of potential.
Material and design advancements combine in corneal molding to offer a safe, controlled option for vision correction.
Also regularly appearing on the market are new contact lens care systems that minimize chemical sensitivity, enhance lens wearing comfort and provide excellent disinfection action with great ease of use.
The Real Excitement
What's truly exciting are the new opportunities that all of these advancements offer to us and to our patients. We can provide contact lens correction to more people who have a greater variety of refractive errors and ocular conditions than ever before, with contact lenses that offer superior vision, enhanced comfort and greater safety.
These are exciting times for contact lens enthusiasts!
Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio, and has served as a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.