HIGHLIGHTS FROM AROUND TABLE DISCUSSION
Bringing New Inspiration to Contact Lens Care
Learn how the biology of the eye and its natural processes led scientists to a bio-inspired contact lens care product, Biotrue multi-purpose solution.
Innovations in the contact lens care category can take various forms. They can represent an extension or improvement of a previously accepted product or it can represent a unique approach to development of a new product. To be considered improved, a new version of a contact lens solution typically must do more of a previously established task, such as provide more comfort, deliver more powerful cleaning or kill germs more effectively. In developing Biotrue multi-purpose solution, scientists at Bausch + Lomb took inspiration from the human eye. The result is a unique lens care solution inspired by the eye's biology and naturally occurring processes.
During the annual meeting of the American Optometric Association in June, eyecare professionals who participated in a clinical study of Biotrue multi-purpose solution met to share their experiences. They described their impressions of Biotrue and their patients' responses during the study. This supplement recaps the highlights of that roundtable discussion, including commentary by physicist Peter Vukusic, PhD, who has done extensive work to bring bio-inspired products to the market in other industries.
Figure 1. Bio-inspired products are all around us.
LESSONS FROM NATURE
The notion of generating breakthrough products and technologies by replicating things that occur in nature isn't new. In fact, bio-inspiration is a recognized scientific discipline that examines and applies nature's best systems and designs to create and improve products that target specific environmental, mechanical, medical or consumer needs. A well-known example: Swiss engineer George de Mestral invented the Velcro product after observing how burdock seeds stuck to his dog's fur.1
Bio-inspiration can be found in many products that we use every day, from aerodynamic cars modeled after the body of the boxfish to energy-efficient LED displays inspired by the wings of the butterfly and flexible shoes inspired by the structure of the human foot (Figure 1). In his field of photonics, Dr. Vukusic and his colleagues continue to find bio-inspiration in numerous animals and plants. Studies of the color system of the Morpho butterfly,2 for example, have led to innovations in fabrics and cosmetics. An anticounterfeiting logo is based on the photonic nanostructure responsible for the visual appearance of a Papilio butterfly.3
"It's all very well — and absolutely necessary — that scientists learn nature's secrets," Dr. Vukusic said, "but it takes great technologists to apply that information to a relevant and appropriate technology. When companies such as Bausch + Lomb put bio-inspiration into practice, they show that bioinspiration is amazing to study, and it makes great commercial sense, and, more than that, it's good design practice."
BIO-INSPIRED VISION CARE
By studying the physiology of the eye and observing processes that have been proven through evolution, scientists have developed bio-inspired products that are more in tune with the eye and the visual system. The contact lens itself could be said to be bio-inspired, because it's designed to mimic the natural contour of the healthy eye. More recently, the Crystalens intraocular lens (Bausch + Lomb) was designed to mimic the accommodative ability of the eye's natural crystalline lens, providing patients with better vision — at all distances — after cataract surgery. As Dr. DePaolis noted, "Anything we can do to complement and/or mimic a normal physiologic function is a step in the right direction."
Will a bio-inspired lens care product resonate with patients? "When patients learn a product is bio-inspired, I believe their confidence in the product increases," Dr. Anderson says. "They realize there's research behind it that makes it more compatible with the eye, and they're more willing to try it and accept it." Drawing inspiration from the biology of the eye, Biotrue multi-purpose solution:
● Matches the pH of healthy tears
● Uses a lubricant found in eyes
● Keeps certain beneficial tear proteins active. These attributes and their impact on patients' wearing experiences are discussed in more detail in the articles that follow. CLS
|"When patients learn a product is bio-inspired, I believe their confidence in the product increases. They realize there's research behind it that makes it more compatible with the eye, and they're more willing to try it and accept it."
— Bruce Anderson, OD
1. Forbes P. The Gecko's Foot - Bio Inspiration: Engineered from Nature. London: 4th Estate Ltd; 2005.
2. Vukusic P, Sambles JR, Lawrence DR, Wootton RJ. Quantified interference and diffraction in single Morpho butterfly scales. Proc R Soc Lond B. 1999;266:1403-1411.
3. Berthier S, Boulenguez J, Gálint Z. Multiscaled polarization effects in Suneve coronata (Lepidoptera) and other insects: application to anticounterfeiting of banknotes. Appl Phys. 2007;86:123-130.