This month, we focus on Visionary Optics, a scleral lens manufacturer based in Oak Brook, IL, and Front Royal, VA. I recently had the pleasure to speak with Visionary Optics’ President and CEO, Donald Sanders, MD, PhD.
Dr. Sanders, please tell us about your company in terms of its history and direction.
The precursor company to Visionary Optics (VO) was founded in 2001, when Rob Breece, OD, developed the Jupiter scleral lens. He and I became partners in April 2009; with Dr. Breece’s untimely death in August 2009, I took over the contact lens lab, which was restructured as VO in 2010. As a research-oriented ophthalmologist, my goal was to make VO the most technologically advanced scleral lens company in the marketplace. It became clear to me that scleral lenses were the future, and we realized that a great contribution could be made.
In 2013, in conjunction with Greg DeNaeyer, OD, we redesigned the Jupiter lens to produce the Europa scleral lens, which is easier to fit and has a smaller fitting set. In the same year, we cofounded the company that designs and manufactures the sMap3D corneal-scleral topographer. To date, VO has analyzed the scleral shape and used that data to design the best-fitting scleral lenses for more than 8,000 patients. Our customers have noted that the sMap3D has decreased patient chair time and dramatically simplified the scleral lens fitting process no matter how irregular the eye.
Tell us about any new products or new developments in which Visionary Optics is involved.
In 2019, VO launched the Latitude freeform customized lens design, which has no predesigned peripheral curve system. It uses sMap3D data to exactly conform to the scleral shape at the landing zone and is designed to even out the central, midperipheral, and limbal clearances regardless of the degree of corneal irregularity.
As part of the Scleral Shape Study Group (SSSG), we learned that almost two-thirds of cases presenting for scleral lens fitting had scleral shapes other than spherical or toric. Furthermore, quadrant-specific scleral shapes were common in cases of non-central/peripheral corneal ectasias. To assist our customers who don’t have the sMap3D, we launched a Europa Elevate fitting set containing eight quadrant-specific (Q) lenses based on the SSSG study data. In many cases of peripheral corneal ectasias, these Q lenses have significantly less scleral lens decentration and localized compression or edge lift.
VO recently released two new hypochlorous acid technology products (VibrantVue spray and hydrogel) to treat contact lens intolerance and dry eye. These products have potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects and the highest concentration of active agent in the eyecare market, while remaining non-toxic, non-irritating, cost-effective, and they have a two-year shelf life. We intend to release other ocular solution-related products in the near future.
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).
Because most of our business is scleral lenses, I am uncomfortable giving predictions for other market segments. For sclerals, within five years (10 at the most), scleral fitting will be largely based on scleral shape measurement. The driving force will be the recognition that most cases with corneal irregularities also have irregular (asymmetric) scleral shapes and that better-fitting scleral lenses will improve ocular health, expand the indications for use, and make scleral fitting faster, more efficient, and more of a science than an art.
During this same time frame, I believe that wavefront correction in scleral lenses will be commonplace, with improved best-corrected acuity in many more patients who wear scleral lenses to manage corneal irregularities. CLS