It has become somewhat of an annual tradition for Contact Lens Spectrum to consider a “top 10” list at this time each year to summarize major events in our field both in the short and long term. This is something important for us to revisit from time to time to keep us mindful of, and thinking ahead about, the field of contact lenses. To aid in our research, we solicit feedback from industry, key opinion leaders, and our readers. This past year has been an exciting one, while at the same time there are some current and future challenges that we must face.
On the challenging side of things, we continue to face issues relating to the distribution and regulation of contact lenses, particularly in the United States. Time continues to pass with various online sellers of contact lenses either attempting to prescribe lenses virtually or outright ignoring prescription laws and selling our patients contact lenses directly, bypassing eyecare providers altogether. Likewise, while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been active this year in requesting public comment on proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule, I am not so sure that those changes are truly and fully in the public’s best interest, nor are they really fixing any true problem. In fact, the proposed changes really seem to put prescribing into the patients’, and therefore the sellers’, hands quite literally. The future of contact lens distribution and regulation seems fairly uncertain and almost bleak depending on the optics.
On the exciting side of things, we continue to see significant enthusiasm and growth in myopia management and specialty contact lenses—particularly in the scleral lens arena. These areas are likely to help ward against the otherwise worrisome changes in prescribing of contact lenses noted above, as these modalities require the most active fitting and involvement of practitioners. We also continue to see growth in the daily disposable segment of the soft lens market and are seeing significant advances in diagnosis and management approaches for ocular surface disease, which certainly will help benefit our contact lens wearers.
Although we are facing some challenges, I think that we have enough new developments to continue having an optimistic outlook on our ability to positively impact our patients’ lives. As Yogi Berra said “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”