The Contact Lens Event of 2011
By Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO
Each January, we continue our tradition of selecting an Event of the Year for the prior year—something seminal that we believe will influence the contact lens market. This is never an easy task and, as has been typical for the last few years, 2011 turned out to be a banner year, marked by a number of significant events. Many thanks to all who nominated an event.
The introduction and adoption of a customizable silicone hydrogel material made our list of nominees. This is an important step toward bringing the potential advantages of silicone hydrogel materials to more patients, including very high ametropes and astigmats. Daily disposables were also on the list. Not only did we see expansion of silicone hydrogel materials into this category, but our data suggest the daily disposables market segment in the United States reached 15 percent this year, compared with 10 or 11 percent for several years. Another nominee was the merger of Ciba Vision and Alcon, which will likely have a significant effect on the contact lens market.
This year, however, we are recognizing an event that may not, at first, appear to be directly related to contact lenses. The Event of the Year for 2011 was the culmination of the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society's Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) Workshop Report, published as a special edition of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS) in March 2011. More than 50 clinicians and scientists worked together for more than 2 years to provide a better framework around this frequently observed condition in terms of its definition, epidemiology and clinical care. Significant portions of the reports are dedicated to discussion of the potential role of contact lens wear in MGD. As of October 2011, these reports were the most frequently read articles in all of IOVS between October 2010 and September 2011, even though they were available for only six of those months! The impact of the MGD Workshop Reports will be significant for many years to come.
As always, we thank our readers and sponsors for their continued support, making us the most-read publication on contact lenses on the planet. We look forward to an even better 2012.