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Contact lens market booming

By David Goldberg

More than 46 million North Americans wear contact lenses to correct their vision, an increase of about 500,000 people from just one year ago, according to The Vision Council.

Product innovation, new features and lower prices each play a role in increasing demand.

Optical Prism recently spoke to North America’s contact lens leaders to find out what exciting technologies are available now. Plus, industry insiders tell us what the future holds for contact lens wearers and the eye care professionals who prescribe them.


When TIME Magazine heralds your product as one of the greatest inventions of the year, you know you have something special.

That was the case for Acuvue OASYS with Transitions contact lenses.

Dr. John Buch at Johnson & Johnson Vision was a key player in getting this lens to market and explains why it’s so revolutionary.

“It balances the amount of indoor and outdoor light entering the eye, helping the wearer adapt to different types of light throughout the day and night,” he says. “It’s also the first and only commercially available contact lens that provides 100 per cent protection against UVB rays and it has the highest level of UV protection in a contact lens.” 

A decade’s worth of research and development, analyzing 1,000 patients, went into producing the Acuvue OASYS with Transitions lenses, which can finally deliver a comfort factor some contact lens wearers have been looking for their entire lives.

Besides handling varied light environments with ease, patients have also reported sharper and more comfortable vision at a computer screen.

Dr. Buch is very pleased with the feedback so far.

“Eye care professionals tell us that these lenses allow them to ‘wow’ their patients and it’s a real bonus for their clinic to stay on the cutting edge of contact lens fitting.”


At CooperVision, demand for daily contact lenses is growing, according to country manager Alexandra Donkin.

“Most eye care professionals agree that a fresh pair of lenses everyday is healthier and more convenient for patients,” she says.

The use of silicone hydrogel in CooperVision’s family of clariti 1-day lenses means that more people can experience the benefits of dailies. The comfort level is going up, while the cost is going down. 

“With clariti 1-day, we offer UV protection, including sphere, toric and multifocal,” says Donkin. “As a result, eye care professionals have access to a design for most of their patients in a high-oxygen 1-day lens at an affordable price point.”

CooperVision says that the clariti family of lenses allow 100 per cent corneal oxygen consumption and actually provides more than the recommended amount of oxygen across the entire lens surface to help maintain ocular health.


Alcon’s Dailies Total1 contact lenses, meanwhile, combine two unique technologies that deliver outstanding comfort and visual performance, according to head of vision care Chris Van Dyk.

“The breakthrough design places nearly 100 per cent of water at the outermost surface, providing a gentle cushion of moisture where the eyes need it most, providing outstanding breathability for healthy looking eyes,” says Van Dyk.

“The SmarTears Technology involves the release of an ingredient found naturally in tears to help stabilize the lipid layer of the tear film.”

Eye care professionals know that many patients struggle with lens discomfort, which can lead to patients abandoning a product altogether. But having a comfortable lens that is easy to fit helps them support their patients.

“Contact lens wearers applaud the comfort of the product with 9 out of 10 agreeing that Dailies Total1 are so comfortable, they forgot they had them on,” Alcon says.

Dailies Total1 continue to be Alcon’s top-selling contact lenses.


An innovative new product from Bausch + Lomb will allow a whole new group of people to finally realize their dream of wearing contact lenses.

In October, Bausch + Lomb Canada launched ULTRA Multifocal for Astigmatism, which will help eye care professionals fill a large unmet need among patients who require a multifocal contact lens with correction for astigmatism.

Matt Nowak, business director, Vision Care Business Unit at Bausch + Lomb Canada explains how these contact lenses are the first and only multifocal toric lenses available as a standard offering in the eye care professional’s fit set.

“The new monthly silicone hydrogel lens, which was specifically designed to address the lifestyle and vision needs of patients with both astigmatism and presbyopia, combines our unique 3-Zone Progressive multifocal design with the stability of its OpticAlign toric design,” he says.

“It provides eye care professionals and their patients an advanced contact lens technology that offers the convenience of same-day fitting during the initial lens exam.”

The limited options that did exist, such as monovision with toric soft lenses, single-vision lenses combined with readers and custom order lenses, did not meet all patient needs for visual acuity and convenience.

“There has been significant interest from Canadian eye care professionals regarding this innovative new product since we first went to market,” says Nowak, “…and so far the feedback has been extremely positive.”


Optical Prism also enquired about what new and emerging technologies we might see launched later this year as well as what exciting advancements might be in store over this new decade and beyond.

CooperVision’s Alexandra Donkin says people’s current lifestyles are challenging everyone to think outside the lens case.

“People are using their eyes today in ways they never have,” she says. “We’re spending more time indoors and gazing at more detailed things, placed closer to our eyes, more than ever before. And of course digital screens are outputting and reflecting back different kinds of light and stimuli.

“At CooperVision, advancements such as our Aquaform Technology and Biofinity Energys with Digital Zone Optics lenses have been part of the journey in recognizing how contact lenses and ECPs should help address changing habits. We’re enthusiastic about continuing on that path—there’s so much on the horizon!”

According to Dr. Buch, Johnson & Johnson is looking at a lens that may one day alleviate the nagging symptoms of allergy sufferers. 

“Among investigational products are contact lenses that are being developed through novel drug-delivery manufacturing technology. We believe these lenses could be the world’s first antihistamine-releasing vision-correcting contact lenses to aid those with ocular allergies.”

Johnson & Johnson is also committed to halting the myopia epidemic.

The company’s internal soft contact lens clinical program for myopia received FDA breakthrough designation in the summer of 2019.

Bausch + Lomb’s Matt Nowak believes the coming years will be an exciting time for eye care.

“Influenced by dynamic demographics and the changing digital world we live in, and we expect to see a continuous increase in the investment of contact lens and lens care research and development to help improve the overall lens-wearing experience of patients.”

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