By Denis Langlois

Comfort is key when it comes to contact lenses.

In this still-growing Canadian industry, eyewear companies are continually developing and introducing new technologies aimed at keeping contact lenses hydrated longer and free from unwanted deposits.

A recent VisionWatch Canada report by The Vision Council says nearly 74 per cent of Canadians wear some form of vision correction. Nearly 14 per cent of those consumers – about 3.7 million people – wear contact lenses, making it the second-most popular form of vision correction after prescription eyeglasses.

The contact lens industry in Canada saw about five per cent growth in 2016 to reach $324 million in annual sales, according to a recent Euromonitor International report.

It forecasts sales will continue to climb as contact lens manufacturers launch new and innovative products that target dryness and irritation to boost comfort.

That is all important information for eyecare professionals, especially considering the VisionWatch report’s findings that a whopping 81 per cent of Canadian contact lens wearers purchase their lenses at physical retail locations, as opposed to online or over the phone.

Many new contact lenses have hit the Canadian market in recent months. The common theme is the goal to boost all-day comfort.

Acuvue Vita


Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, which secured the largest share of the market in Canada for contact lenses in 2016, recently entered the monthly category with its ACUVUE VITA brand contact lenses.

The 30-day daily wear lenses feature HydraMax technology, a new non-coated silicone hydrogel formulation that the company says provides superior comfort all month long over other leading monthly brands.

“Optimal hydration was our goal for this new innovation,” says Peter Shen, vice-president, worldwide research and development for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.

“The HydraMax Technology in ACUVUE VITA helps maximize lens hydration by integrating the maximum amount of hydrating agent in this lens and then maintains hydration through optimal density and distribution of beneficial lipids throughout this lens.”

Johnson & Johnson surveyed monthly contact lens wearers and discovered that more than two-thirds of respondents experienced comfort-related issues with their lenses at some time during the month. About 84 per cent of those patients used “compensating behaviours” such as re-wetting drops or taking breaks from wearing their contact lenses.

“While we continue to believe that a shorter wearing cycle is better in contact lenses, these survey results shine a light on the critical unmet need in the monthly category,” says Zohra Fadli of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.

“These patient insights helped us recognize the challenges that monthly wearers face and drove our commitment to provide them with a meaningful solution. We know that a change in lens hydration may contribute to a decline in monthly lens comfort, so we focused our efforts on designing a lens that helps maximize and maintain lens hydration, providing reliable, superior comfort all month long.”

Early in 2016, Johnson & Johnson launched its ACUVUE OASYS with HydraLuxe one-day contact lenses in Canada. The lenses include tear-like molecules that lubricate and moisturize the eye to provide excellent comfort and vision throughout the day.


Biofinity Energys


CooperVision launched this fall in Canada new contact lenses specifically designed for digital device users.

Biofinity Energys feature a unique lens design that CooperVision says simulates what’s known as positive power in the centre of the lens, helping reduce strain on the eyes’ ciliary muscle as a person moves their gaze from on-screen to off-screen and back with less effort.

The lenses also boast Aquaform Technology, which attracts and binds water throughout the lens material to retain moisture even during times of reduced blinking, which is common with device use. This helps alleviate dry eyes, providing the hydration, breathability and softness that healthy eyes deserve.
The lenses also incorporate a smooth, naturally wettable surface design with a special rounded edge, which reduces interaction between the lens and the inside of the eyelids, improving long-lasting wearing comfort.

“With the reliance on smartphones, tablets, laptops, in-car displays and more every day, we know that trying to change people’s behaviors — essentially asking them to scale back their device use or change how they interact with screens — has limited value. CooperVision committed itself to finding a better solution – one that could make a meaningful difference in people’s everyday lives,” says Dr. Gary Orsborn, vice-president of global professional and clinical affairs for CooperVision.

“As a contact lens specifically designed for millions of digital device users, Biofinity Energys paves the way for meeting their demanding needs in a wholly new manner. Our research and development team broke new ground, discovering a way to address both optical and comfort aspects in a contact lens created to be worn throughout the day.”
Studies have found that more than 90 per cent of adults use digital devices more than two hours a day and nearly 60 per cent of adults use digital devices for greater than five hours per day.

A study by Indiana University found that greater than 75 percent of individuals using such devices report eye tiredness and dryness at least once per week or more, and 35 percent once per day or more.

Biofinity Energys lenses are designed to be replaced monthly.


Extreme H2O Weekly packages


Toronto-based Centennial Optical recently introduced Extreme H2O weekly contact lenses – the only disposable contact lenses that are available in three different diameters – to the Canadian marketplace.

The new product “enables eyecare professionals to successfully fit small, standard and large diameter patients, providing them with a better fit and a more comfortable wearing experience.”

Centennial, the Canadian distributor of Extreme H2O weekly contact lenses, says a Pacific University study on corneal diameters found that 27 per cent of contact lens fits fall outside of the standard parameters.

Patients with an HVID (horizontal visible iris diameter) of 11.3 or smaller represent 14 per cent of contact lens patients and are best fit with the 13.6 diameter option. Another 13 per cent of patients with an HVID of 12.3 or larger are best fit in the 14.8 diameter. The remaining 73 per cent of patients can be fit in a 14.2 diameter.

“A weekly replacement modality is ideal for patients who would benefit from a more frequent replacement, but don’t want to incur the cost of a daily disposable. And, with three lens diameters for a perfect fit and long-lasting comfort, the benefits of Extreme H2O Weekly lenses are clear,” Centennial says.

The ultra-hydrating lens material allows for maximum water retention for all-day comfort, which provides “outstanding optical qualities and prevents the lenses from tightening and causing eye irritation and reduced visual clarity.”


Air Optix plus Hydraglyde


Alcon recently introduced new AIR OPTIX plus HydraGlyde monthly replacement contact lenses in Canada.

The lenses merge two technologies: SmartShield, which provides excellent deposit resistance, and HydraGlyde Moisture Matrix, which delivers longer-lasting lens surface moisture.

“At Alcon, we are committed to helping people see, look and feel their best and this includes continuing to expand our innovative product portfolio,” says Franck Leveiller, senior vice-president, global head of research and development at Alcon. “Adding this exclusive lens surface moisture technology to AIR OPTIX brand contact lenses will provide eyecare professionals a new option for their contact lens patients.”

Alcon says a study found that AIR OPTIX plus HydraGlyde contact lenses provide “longer-lasting wettability” after 16 hours “proving its ability to provide lens surface moisture benefits and lens surface hydration.”

The AIR OPTIX family of monthly replacement contact lenses also includes monthly replacement clear and colour contact lenses, overnight and flexible wear options and toric and multi-focal lens correction.