What's New in Contact Lenses and Solutions
User-Adjustable Electronic Contact Lenses May Be Available Soon
November 2015 Are electronic contact lenses (ECLs) in our future? E-Vision Smart Optics is developing a lens that would allow wearers to adjust the optics for focusing at near, far and intermediate distances.
Electronic contact lenses would allow wearers to change focusing power on the fly.
The technology already exists in other optical devices, including electronic focusing eyeglasses and augmented reality displays. But how would it work in a contact lens?
The Florida-based company was issued a patent last month for the use of a flexible lens containing electro-active materials what it's calling a "flexible dynamic electro-active lens." The lens would look and feel like a regular flexible contact lens, but it would have an electric field surrounded by a layer of liquid crystal material.
Electrodes would activate the liquid crystal layer to create hyperopic, myopic and aspheric shapes in the lens. And the wearer could choose pre-set focus ranges to change the prescription quickly, to adapt to different viewing situations as they arise.
According to E-Vision, the first prototype of the ECL will be available by late 2016.
Caution: Some Special-Effect Halloween Contact
Lenses Reduce Vision Quality
October 2015 Special-effect contact lenses (also called theatrical lenses, Halloween contact lenses, and decorative contacts) are a popular choice among costume enthusiasts who want to dramatically alter their appearance, especially at Halloween.
But beware: According to a new study, some special-effect contacts can interfere with your vision, especially in low-light conditions such as when driving at night or walking after dark.
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Researchers investigated changes in visual function of 30 healthy volunteers who wore either clear contact lenses or special-effect contacts with different pigment-free optical zone diameters (in other words, with different sizes of pupil openings in the design). Special-effect lens designs evaluated in the study had clear pupil zone diameters of 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0 millimeters, which are smaller than the natural pupil diameter of relatively young people in low-light conditions.
Results showed that participants who wore special-effect contact lenses with small pupil designs (4 mm clear pupil zone) had significantly reduced visual acuity. Also, higher-order aberrations increased with special-effect designs with small pupil zones, and contrast sensitivity decreased when wearing the decorative lenses (even in normal lighting).
The study authors concluded that people considering purchasing theatrical contact lenses for Halloween and other occasions should be made aware of possible disturbances in visual function these lenses may cause.
Remember, just like conventional (clear or nearly clear) contact lenses that are prescribed for nearsightedness or farsightedness, special-effect contacts must be fitted by an eye care provider, and a contact lens prescription is required to purchase them. Special-effect lenses are available with or without corrective power and therefore can be worn by nearly everyone including people with naturally perfect vision for fun and special occasions.
A report of the study appeared in the online version of British Journal of Ophthalmology in September.
CDC Report: Millions of Americans Take Unnecessary
Risks With Their Contact Lenses
August 2015 Are contact lenses dangerous? They don't have to be especially if you follow your eye care provider's recommendations and take common-sense precautions when wearing them.
Napping while wearing your contact lenses? You're risking eye problems, including infection.
Unfortunately, a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals millions of Americans who wear contact lenses do things that can significantly increase their risk for eye infections.
The findings come from an online survey of contact lens wearers designed to assess the prevalence of contact lens wear and hygiene-related risk behaviors.
And here's the bad news: nearly all (approximately 99 percent) of the contact lens wearers surveyed reported at least one habit or behavior that increases their risk of eye infections. Risk behaviors reported included:
- Napping while wearing contacts (87.1 percent)
- Wearing contact lenses while showering (84.9 percent)
- Using lens storage case longer than recommended replacement frequency (82.3 percent)
- Wearing contact lenses while swimming (61.0 percent)
- "Topping off" disinfecting solution in lens storage case and using it again (55.1 percent)
- Wearing contact lenses overnight while sleeping (50.2 percent)
- Using lenses longer than the recommended replacement frequency (49.9 percent)
Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly one third of respondents reported having experienced a red and/or painful eye that required a visit to a doctor.
Approximately 1,000 contact lens wearers completed the risk survey. Most of the respondents (82 percent) were female, and 62 percent were age 40 or older.
According to CDC, the findings will help create prevention messages aimed at contact lens wearers, which will include recommendations to:
- Avoid exposing contact lenses to water of any kind (other than approved lens care solutions).
- Discard disinfecting solution from lens storage case after each use (don't "top off" and re-use solution a second time).
- Discard and replace contact lens storage case at least every three months.
In a separate population-based online survey of more than 4,200 respondents, CDC estimates that 40.9 million Americans age 18 years and older currently wear contact lenses (16.7 percent of U.S. adults). Overall, contact lens wearers in the United States are younger, female, more educated, and of white non-Hispanic ethnicity, compared with the demographics of non-wearers, according to the survey. Most contact lens wearers in the U.S. (93 percent) wear soft lenses, which are designed to be discarded after a specified period of time.
U.S. Launch of Clear Care Plus Cleaning & Disinfecting Solution for Soft and GP Contact Lenses
July 2015 New in the U.S. is Clear Care Plus, a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning and disinfecting solution with HydraGlyde Moisture Matrix technology.
According to manufacturer Alcon, HydraGlyde is a wetting technology that surrounds contact lenses with moisture that endures, complementing moisture from the wearer's tears. And Clear Care Plus is preservative-free, to reduce any possibility of eye irritation.
Just like Clear Care, Clear Care Plus contains 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and can be used for both soft and gas permeable lenses. The special lens case required for the hydrogen peroxide to neutralize is included in each package, including travel size.
Silicone Hydrogel Daily Disposable Offers Soft Feel and High Oxygen Permeability
July 2015 CooperVision has launched MyDay daily disposable contact lenses in the United States. They are made of a new silicone hydrogel material that is only 4.4% silicon, which the company says makes room for moisture that the eyes need to stay comfortable.
The lenses are very oxygen permeable and soft, with a smooth surface and rounded edges. Testing has shown that they are immediately comfortable upon insertion, with continued comfort as the day progresses.
They also filter 85 percent of UVA and 96 percent of UVB rays (though sunglasses are still required outdoors, since the lenses do not cover the entire eye).
Lens powers range from +6.00D to -10.00D, and MyDay comes in 90-packs. Currently MyDay is in limited distribution but should be available nationwide by early fall.
New Daily Disposable Multifocal Contacts Available
July 2015 Johnson & Johnson Vision Care announced a new daily disposable contact lens with an aspheric center-near design that the company says closely matches the optical design to the wearer's pupil size for better vision.
The 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal comes in 61 distance powers from +6.00D to -9.00D and three add powers, to give contact lens fitters lots of options to fit people with various needs.
The lens's back curve design helps keep the lens centered over the pupil, with the aspheric center mimicking the natural shape of the eye's surface. Such stability can help the complex front-surface optics do their job in delivering clear vision at various distances.
For comfort, a wetting agent is embedded in the lens material. And the 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal blocks about 82 percent of UVA and 97 percent of UVB rays. (But sunglasses are still required for complete UV protection outdoors, since the contact lens doesn't cover the entire eye).
An inside-out mark and visibility tint are also included, and the lenses come in 30- and 90-packs.
Now You Can Highlight Your Eyes Without Changing Their Color!
December 2014 Already on the market in Asia, new 1-Day Acuvue Define contact lenses are now available at a limited number of eye care locations in the United States.
These daily disposable contact lenses are designed to enhance your eyes without changing their color. An outer darker limbal ring adds contrast between the iris and sclera, while an inner translucent pattern adds depth and highlights to the iris.
1-Day Acuvue Define lenses will be available in three styles: Natural Sparkle, Natural Shimmer and Natural Shine. They will come in two base curves, in a no-power version as well as powers from +1.00 D to -9.00 D.
And they will be available in many more locations in the first half of 2015. Please click here for before-and-after photos of models wearing Natural Shimmer and Natural Sparkle.
Google and Eye Care Company Alcon Planning New
"Smart" Contact Lenses
July 2014 Contact lens maker Alcon (a divison of Novartis) is licensing Google's "smart lens" technology for all medical uses related to the eye.
Alcon says it will collaborate with Google to create contact lenses with embedded sensors and other miniaturized electronics to measure glucose levels in the tear fluid of the eyes.
The measurements would be transmitted wirelessly to a mobile device, for viewing by diabetic patients and their doctors.
Another possible use of the technology would be to provide near-focusing capability for intraocular lenses that are implanted during cataract surgery. This would benefit people with presbyopia who would otherwise need reading glasses.
The collaboration will not be final until anti-trust approvals are obtained.
Bausch + Lomb Announces FDA Clearance for
Biotrue OneDay for Presbyopia
July 2014 Biotrue OneDay for Presbyopia contact lenses have received FDA approval, and they are expected to launch soon.
This new option for people who are at the age of needing reading glasses uses the same 3-Zone Progressive design found in Bausch + Lomb's PureVision2 Multi-Focal for Presbyopia.
But Biotrue OneDay for Presbyopia is a daily disposable lens, so it offers the convenience and eye health benefits of lenses that are discarded at the end of the day. People with allergies or who travel a lot will especially appreciate the daily disposable feature.
The new contacts are made of what the company calls bio-inspired HyperGel, providing comfortable vision at near, intermediate and far distances.
Air Optix Colors Launched
May 2014 These new color contact lenses from Alcon are made of a highly breathable silicone hydrogel contact lens material to help eyes remain white and healthy-looking, and they feature an ultra-smooth plasma surface technology for consistent, all-day wearing comfort, according to the company.
The new lenses are designed for daily (not overnight) wear and are available in both subtle colors (blue, green, pure hazel, gray and brown) and vibrant colors (brilliant blue, gemstone green, honey and sterling gray).
All Air Optix Colors lenses feature the same 3-in-1 embedded color technology used in the company's FreshLook brand of hydrogel color contact lenses, for a beautiful, natural appearance, the company says.
According to documents filed with the FDA, Air Optix Colors lenses transmit more than 95 percent of visible light for good vision in virtually all lighting conditions. They are available in a wide range of powers to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Air Optix Colors also are available without refractive power, for people with naturally good vision who simply want to change or enhance the color of their eyes.
New Peroxide-Based Cleaner with Shorter Neutralizing Time
May 2014 PeroxiClear 3% hydrogen peroxide cleaning and disinfecting solution neutralizes in four hours (other peroxide cleaners require six).
The solution also contains what Bausch + Lomb calls Triple-Moist Technology, which the company says helps provide up to 20 hours of moisture. And it's preservative-free.
PeroxiClear will be available at most retailers across the United States in June.
(Mouse-over the image for a larger view.)
Google Is Patenting a Contact Lens Camera
May 2014 The end may be near for that awkwardness Google Glass wearers experience when others worry about being photographed without permission. A more subtle device may be in the works now.
According to a report by Patently Mobile (formerly Patent Bolt), Google has applied for a patent on a tiny camera system that could be embedded in the smart contact lenses it is developing.
The proposed method of controlling the camera is by using the wearer's own blinking patterns. The images captured wouldn't necessarily produce photos or videos; for example, the data could be used to help a blind person navigate a crosswalk safely.
Precise details about what the camera component would be made of or where it would be placed on the lens are not available yet. But presumably it would be FDA-evaluated for safety in the eye and positioned where it couldn't obstruct the wearer's vision. (Image: Patently Mobile)
Antimicrobial Lenses Could Reduce Contact Lens-Related
Eye Infections, Study Finds
May 2014 Contact lenses treated with an antimicrobial peptide called melimine can be safely worn by humans and may reduce the risk of contact lens-related eye infections should such lenses become commercially available.
Researchers in Australia investigated the performance of melimine-coated contacts on both animal and human eyes. Melimine is a cationic peptide, a substance produced by the body's immune system that has a broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity to reduce inflammation and infection.
The melimine-coated lenses were applied to rabbit eyes for 22 days for a preliminary assessment of the safety of the lenses. A human clinical trial of the lenses was then performed, with participants wearing the melamine-coated lens on one eye and a standard soft contact lens (control lens) on the other eye for eight hours.
The subjects were examined immediately after the lenses were removed, and again at one week and four weeks after lens removal, to rule out delayed toxicity effects.
In the rabbit trial, the melimine-coated lenses produced no signs of toxicity, inflammation or other eye problems. In the human trial, no significant differences in eye health were observed between the eyes wearing the melimine-coated lenses and those wearing the control lenses, and there were no significant differences in lens comfort, dryness or awareness. Also, the melimine-coated lenses retained significant antimicrobial qualities against bacteria commonly associated with contact lens-related eye infections after being worn for an eight-hour period.
Though these results are promising, more clinical trials are needed to determine if similar antimicrobial lenses reduce contact lens-related adverse events, especially during extended wear, said the study authors. A report of the study appeared in the May issue of Optometry and Vision Science. (See previous coverage.)
Dailies AquaComfort Plus Now in Astigmatism
and Multifocal Versions
April 2014 Alcon Laboratories has expanded its Dailies AquaComfort Plus daily disposable contact lens portfolio to include toric lenses for astigmatism and multifocal lenses for presbyopia.
Like the company's core Dailies AquaComfort Plus lenses, the new lenses correct a wide range of nearsightedness and farsightedness and are designed to be discarded after a single use.
The toric lenses correct up to -1.75 diopters (D) of astigmatism, and the multifocal lenses are available in designs to correct low, medium and high amounts of presbyopia.
The new lenses are available immediately from eye care practitioners who offer Alcon contacts.
Bausch + Lomb Launches Ultra Contact Lens with MoistureSeal Technology
March 2014 End-of-day comfort for contact lens wearers was one of the goals during the development of the new Ultra contact lenses by Bausch + Lomb, especially after a long day of using computers and other digital devices.
The monthly replacement lenses are made of silicone hydrogel and are manufactured using the company's MoistureSeal Technology. Ultra contact lenses are available in certain areas now and will continue to roll out nationwide this spring.
[Page updated March 21, 2016]