A LOOK AT VALLEY CONTAX
JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD
JANICE Y. ADAMS MBA, PRESIDENT & CEO, VALLEY CONTAX, INC.
Our focus this month is on Valley Contax, a specialty lens manufacturer located in Springfield, OR. I recently had the pleasure to speak with President and CEO Janice Adams, MBA.
Ms. Adams, please tell us a bit about your company in terms of its history and direction.
Valley Contax is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Steve Young founded the business in June 1981 in Springfield, OR. Mr. Young retired in 2015. My son Josh Adams and I purchased the company at that time. We currently have more than 25 staff members. Since our founding, we’ve invested in great talent. It’s all about the people with whom we surround ourselves, and we believe in the human element and that it sets us apart. It starts with a real person answering the phone every time you call Valley Contax.
Our core business is manufacturing GP lenses. Initially, Mr. Young focused mostly on single-vision lenses. But, as GP materials became increasingly available throughout the ’80s, he realized that specialty lenses were a promising endeavor.
Our mission has always been to manufacture the best contact lenses and to supply world-class support to go along with them. As a result, we’ve become an award-winning industry leader with a reputation for outstanding products and services.
Tell us about any new products or new developments in which Valley Contax is involved.
Our newest products are our flagship line of Custom Stable scleral lenses. First was the Custom Stable Prime, which has a symmetrical landing zone. The Custom Stable Elite has a bi-symmetric toric landing zone for excellent comfort and customization. It has become our go-to lens. The Custom Stable Aurora has the same back surface as the Custom Stable Elite; the front surface uses a dominant-distance center with a nondominant-near center system. We recently launched the Quadrant Specific System, in which both the limbal clearance and the scleral landing zones are independently customizable in each of the four quadrants.
We understand that a successful lens fit requires skilled and knowledgeable practitioners in addition to great lens designs. So, we’ve invested heavily in education, training, and support. For example, we’ve developed a 17-minute Custom Stable training video that teaches everything a practitioner needs to know to get started with successfully fitting the Custom Stable line. It’s available at www.valleycontax.com.
We also offer an extern pack to all third-year optometry students on rotations or to fourth-year students when they graduate. It includes a complete fitting set, solutions, application and removal tools, and a mini blue light for fluorescein analysis.
About once a quarter, we host “Custom Stable Fridays,” during which we cover scleral lenses in general, and specifically the Custom Stable; we spend the rest of the day fitting and analyzing those lenses with the visiting practitioners.
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, daily disposables will continue to suit lens wearers who are looking for convenience. I also believe scleral lenses will continue to gain recognition. In the next few years, sclerals will become mainstream for both normal, healthy eyes and compromised eyes.
In the long term, sclerals will still have a place in the market. And, there’s a real possibility that custom GP and custom soft lenses will merge in their designs, materials, and application. We’re starting to see that with vision improvements in soft lenses and GP diameters that are very similar to soft. Lastly, we’re going to see smart contact lenses become a reality. What’s hard to determine and even visualize right now is how these lenses are going to fit into our industry as it stands. CLS
Dr. Nichols is an assistant vice president for industry research development and professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham 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 from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and honoraria from Shire.