Questions Surrounding Top Lens Topics of 2013
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
Several of our September Editor’s Perspective columns over the past few years have presented a “Top 10 List” of topics important to the contact lens industry. In the 2009 edition, it was obvious that we were still in the midst of the global economic recession, given that the No. 1 item on that list was “Impact of the economy on trends in the industry and in our profession.” Last year’s Top 10 List offered a few changes, but some old standbys remained such as myopia control, keratitis, and contact lens discomfort. This overlap across the span of a few years attests to the fact that change indeed takes time.
What items are at the top of the 2013 list of important topics in the contact lens field? I think that there are three general areas that we could consider: 1) the practice/economics of contact lens practice, 2) innovation and regulation, and 3) clinical performance (safety and comfort).
For instance, are margins continually being eroded by competitive sources such as the internet? What, if anything, can we as practitioners do about this? Can the industry do anything about this—and if so, is it?
Regarding innovation and regulation, it will be interesting to see how the year unfolds. What will be the impact of continued consolidation within the industry? How will new regulatory guidance impact innovative products coming to market? For example, it will be interesting to see how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration handles forthcoming claims that might be made regarding contact lenses for controlling myopia.
Lastly, will we see any new health or comfort trends emerge in the contact lens field, particularly regarding products that have come to market more recently? Will we have any better understanding of existing problems—such as contact lens discomfort—that plague so many of our current lens wearers?
It seems that 2013’s Top 10 List has turned out to be more of a list of questions surrounding significant issues rather than a list of the issues themselves. Perhaps we will have answers to some of these questions when we return to this topic in 2014.