Our focus this month is on GP lens and materials manufacturer Paragon Vision Sciences (Paragon). I recently had the pleasure to speak with Paragon’s President Rich Jeffries.
Mr. Jeffries, please tell us about your company in terms of its history and direction.
Since our inception in the mid-70s, Paragon has been a leader in the development of contact lens materials. But parallel to that, we’re also recognized globally in the field of orthokeratology (ortho-k). We’re the only company that manufactures its own lens materials, the lenses, and the vials in which the lenses ship. That gives us complete control over all of the components that the practitioners and patients receive. I think that really distinguishes us.
Our core business and focus since 2002 has been myopia, with Paragon CRT being the first ortho-k lens approved for extended overnight wear. To date, a little more than 1.5 million Paragon CRT lenses have been sold in 50 countries worldwide, including in China, the largest myopia market.
We recently surveyed CRT wearers in the United States, and we’re proud of the fact that 92% report that their experience either meets or exceeds expectations. I think that relates in part to education, not just of practitioners, but we’re really focusing more now on also providing education for the wearers.
Tell us about any new products or new developments in which Paragon is involved.
We recently put additional focus and education into our CRT Dual Axis lens. We recognize the benefits of having additional parameters in the CRT lens to expand successful fits to a wider range of patients.
Our Paragon Education and Training Academy gives us the ability to continually develop new and customized educational resources in any language that we can broadcast live worldwide, which I think is unique in our industry globally.
We’ve also worked in partnership with groups and organizations to develop educational content to support the industry in terms of understanding, advancement, and treatments for serious ocular diseases.
Our newest development is being a part of the CooperVision Specialty Eye Care business unit, which was created in January 2018 and will officially launch at the 2019 Global Specialty Lens Symposium. This division is focused on several areas, but right now in particular on myopia and getting out the messaging regarding its significant consequences to vision and quality of life.
Becoming part of CooperVision has been one of the most exciting times in my 15 years in the industry. As a small/medium-sized company, we didn’t have much funding to invest in research. But, as part of CooperVision’s Specialty Eye Care division, we are able to supply clinically supported, evidence-based information. I think that’s where the industry is going, and I think that, as part of CooperVision, we will be and will remain leaders in that area.
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).
Myopia and irregular corneas are two conditions that are going to continue to increase at a rapid rate. As they grow, industry will be needed to drive the understanding and to develop evidence-based options.
Based on the estimate that 50% of the world’s population is going to be myopic by 2050, I think that myopia will continue to drive our company and our industry. There’s an opportunity for companies to work both individually and collectively to address this global health concern. I also think that in the future, practitioners and consumers will view myopia as we do—not just as a children’s vision issue, but as a major children’s health issue and a disease. As this perception grows, the importance and the place for industry is going to grow significantly. CLS