Happy New Year! From simple to complex innovations, 2022 produced advancements in contact lens technology that should make us look forward to 2023 with excitement. Which of the innovations may become available this year? To make a prediction, we need only to look at the developments under way in 2022.
In the category of “why didn’t anyone think of this before,” Menicon turned its Smart Touch daily disposable lens and packaging upside down, so the inner surface of the lens is never touched. The lens rests with the concave surface down on the convex surface of the blister pack, rather than the conventional “well” type of packaging, for more hygienic and convenient contact lens handling.
Last spring, the FDA approved the first contact lens to deliver medication directly to the eye’s surface. Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue Theravision, infused with an ophthalmic antihistamine, relieves allergy symptoms for up to 12 hours. Other contact lenses that deliver medications are under development, so we can anticipate more lenses to deliver different types of medications, such as for glaucoma. Contact lenses can deliver controlled amounts of medications where they are needed over longer periods of time versus the hit or miss of drops.
Another innovation went a step closer to clinical testing last spring when Mojo Vision announced that its smart contact lens prototype is now “feature complete,” reaching a new milestone in its product development timeline. This means the new prototype already contains all the modules that the final product will need, with optimization and clinical trials remaining. The smart lens contains a microdisplay and image sensor connected wirelessly to an external processing unit for augmented vision. The display can project text, graphics and video on the wearer’s retina that are visible indoors, outdoors or even with eyes closed. Initial projected uses for the lens include low vision enhancement, sports and military applications.
Contact lenses have the unique advantage of being in direct contact with the bodily fluid of tears. Tears have biomarkers, not only for eye disease but systemic diseases as well. Contact lenses that detect those biomarkers are under development and could identify diseases such as cancer in the early stages, and by a method less invasive than a blood test. And these are only some of the vision care developments from 2022. Innovation in spectacle lenses and coatings as well as instrumentation and testing abounded, so we can rightly expect more to come. While the products highlighted here have been under development for years, their time will come—maybe this year!
• Linda Conlin
Pro to Pro Managing Editor