Happy New Year to you and yours! It is hard to believe that another year has passed and made its way into the record books. It has been our tradition for more than 25 years to name an event of the year as it relates to the contact lens field. These are events that have happened in our field over the past year that we believe are tremendously momentous such that they may change or impact the contact lens community in substantial ways. In the recent past, we have highlighted the year of the independent contact lens labs (2016), the passing of Professor Brien Holden (2015), and the year of the cosmetic and beauty lens (2014).
There were many events worthy of discussion in 2017 that deserve recognition of some sort. For instance, the daily disposable category remains on fire in terms of continued growth, with our data sources suggesting that it now leads the market by category in the United States. Likewise, specialty contact lenses continue to show tremendous success and growth in the market as well; this is important as more challenging contact lens fits underscore the importance of the patient-practitioner interaction and remind us why contact lenses remain regulated as medical devices.
However, one series of dynamics in the contact lens market during this past year, which was highlighted through several means, draws us to our event of 2017. We are calling 2017 the year of the “attack on the integrity of the contact lens prescription.”
While the reasons are numerous, they relate to both proposals and actions associated with deregulation in the contact lens industry. We have seen proposals that suggest extending prescription expirations up to three years (or longer). We have seen a transition from online contact lens sales (sometimes without a contact lens prescription and/or verification) to online (virtual) contact lens prescribing. The idea of lenses being sold or substituted for “generic” versions is pervasive, but the analogy to generic medications that is offered up as explanation could not be further from the mark. This continued attack on contact lenses needs to be reversed through continued advocacy efforts that show our legislative bodies the importance and value of licensed eyecare providers in the care of contact lens patients. And, we wish to thank those in our field who continue to carry this torch for the rest of the contact lens community.
The editorial staff of Contact Lens Spectrum wishes you a fruitful and prosperous year ahead in 2018!