A Look at Alcon
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
Robert K. Warner, area president, United States and Canada, Alcon
This month, our Industry Focus is on Alcon. As a large soft lens and lens care solution manufacturer, Alcon has done much in recent years to advance the science of vision care. I recently had the pleasure to speak with the company’s area president, United States and Canada, Robert K. Warner.
Q Mr. Warner, please tell us a bit about your company in terms of its history and direction.
Alcon began in 1945 as a small ophthalmic shop in Fort Worth, Texas. Today, it is a $10.5 billion company with 25,000 employees worldwide that is solely dedicated to the eye, eyecare professionals, and to improving vision and ocular health around the world. The company has a vision care business, a pharmaceutical business, and a surgical business. Our mission is to provide innovative products that enhance quality of life by helping people see better.
Our successful merger with Ciba Vision in 2011 brought together two strong companies with great histories in eye care. It helped create a complete vision care portfolio of both contact lenses and care solutions. Also, the merger kept the best of both company’s strengths and cultures. For instance, Ciba Vision had a great understanding of eyecare practice that, together with Alcon’s strength in clinical research, has resulted in a strong company that serves both ophthalmic professionals and patients.
Q Tell us about any new products or new developments in which Alcon is involved.
Innovation is the core of what Alcon does—we bring technologies to eyecare practitioners to allow them to best serve their patients. We’ve recently had significant innovations in vision care.
We launched a program called “Why I Care,” with the goals of helping contact lens patients to see their best (through superior lens optics), feel their best (through breathable lenses that maintain ocular health and improve comfort), and look their best (by not wearing glasses or by expressing themselves individually by changing eye color). We feel that our recent innovations support the pillars of this program.
Our Dailies Total1 water-gradient technology made possible the concept of having high moisture against the ocular surface in a contact lens. This daily disposable took 10 years to develop and has provided game-changing comfort for some patients.
We recently expanded our Dailies AquaComfort Plus family to include a toric and multifocal design. We saw a lack of great options in the daily disposable modality for patients who have astigmatism or presbyopia. These two advances help to fill this gap and have been well received in the marketplace.
We also recently launched Air Optix Colors, which incorporates our 3-in-1 color technology into the higher-Dk Air Optix silicone hydrogel lens.
Q Tell us your vision for the contact lens field in the short term (less than 5 years) and in the long term (20 years from now).
In the short term, Alcon’s mission is to bring contact lenses and lens care to all patients who can benefit and to give them the best vision experience possible. It’s not OK that we have significant lens dropout issues; in the near term, we need to partner with eyecare professionals to help address this. I believe there’s an opportunity for industry to take the lead—to partner with eyecare practitioners to help tailor and individualize their approach to each patient so that patients have a fantastic ocular experience.
Looking further into the future, Alcon will always strive to take the lead in technology—in all aspects of eye care—wherever necessary to better serve the needs of patients. We will also continue to partner with practitioners to give patients the best vision experience. CLS
Dr. Nichols is the Kevin McDaid Vision Source Professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry, as well as editor-in-chief of Contact Lens Spectrum and editor of the weekly email newsletter Contact Lenses Today. He has received research funding or lecture honoraria from Vistakon, Alcon, and Allergan.