The Contact Lens Event of 2009
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
It's been our tradition for more than 20 years to start each new year by recognizing what we feel is the most important event that happened in our field in the previous year. The “Contact Lens Event of the Year” is something we consider to be the hallmark topic or event that has had or will have the biggest impact on the contact lens industry, and choosing one is no easy feat. Each year, we survey people in the field for suggestions for the event of the year, and we usually receive much input on this subject.
This year was no exception. In addition to other suggestions, those that topped the list for 2009 included new insights and workshops concerning meibomian gland disease, ongoing litigation between Ciba Vision and Vistakon that resulted in the removal of Acuvue Oasys (Vistakon) from an overseas market, continuing FDA meetings about care solutions (testing, labeling, etc.), new products releases, and the untimely loss of several giants in the contact lens field.
But the event we chose for 2009 is much broader in scope than any of these. Since December 2007, but with much greater intensity starting in the fourth quarter of 2008, the industrialized world has been undergoing a global economic recession. Some have described this international recession as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Specifically, we have seen unemployment at double-digit rates, the housing market collapse, and havoc being wreaked within the financial markets. There are many potential causes including subprime lending and easy credit, government activities (or inactivities), over-leveraging, credit default swaps, and even oil prices. At this time, only a glimpse of recovery is in sight.
As many of you have experienced firsthand, 2009 turned out to be a challenging year in this regard. However, as our Annual Report in this issue indicates, our field is still doing modestly well. In fact, the ophthalmic sector as a whole was still up 44 percent year-to-date going into the fourth quarter of 2009, which is far above many other economic indices. More specifically, the contact lens industry is predicted to grow slightly in 2010, and the majority of you report that you feel your contact lens business will be even better this year. In light of all of the financial crises that we have encountered over the last year, the fact that our industry has maintained itself with signs of growth is truly remarkable—so remarkable that it is our Contact Lens Event of 2009.
Many thanks to each of you for continuing to make our field so healthy and successful. I'd like to personally thank all of our editorial staff, contributors, and our readership for a successful 2009. I very much look forward to an even better year in 2010!