Contact Lens Materials and Design: Four Specific Areas of Development

Lyndon Jones, PhD, DSc, FCOptom, FAAO
Director, Center for Ocular Research and Education [CORE]

Dr. Jones, a global lecturer on contact lenses, shares his insights on contact lens material and design development that will interest practitioners and patients.

(video transcript)

Cara Moore: Hi everybody. Thanks for joining us here on Optometry TV. I’m Cara Moore and we are at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry today joined now by Dr. Lyndon Jones. Thank you so much for being here. And you are with the Center for Ocular Research and Education.

Dr. Lyndon Jones: Correct. I am the director of the Center for Ocular Research and Education.

Cara Moore: And you are a very busy man. You are a Global Lecturer on a variety of topics, but really now we want to focus on the future of optometry and more specifically the future of contact lenses.

Dr. Lyndon Jones: This is a very exciting time actually, for contact lenses, there’s a huge amount of work going on in terms of the development of new contact lens materials and designs. And I think it’s really exciting in terms of looking sort of over the next five to 10, maybe even 20 years about what’s going to happen with contact lenses. And then there’s really four specific areas I think that practitioners are going to be interested in, one is kind of here now, and that’s the use of a contact lens to control the progression of myopia. Myopia control is a big problem. We know that, globally, it’s a growing epidemic and there is certainly now a large amount of information to show the contact lenses can play a large role in terms of slowing the progression of myopia, both soft lenses and also, keratology. One of the other areas that are of great interest to companies is looking at developing contact lenses to do something that sounds very science-fiction-like, and that’s actually to be able to detect disease, but there actually is already a commercially available lens that can do, can check the pressure inside your eye to check for glaucoma. And other companies are working on the development of new lenses that will be able to check for things like diabetes, all kinds of other neurological complications as well, things like Alzheimer’s for example. So that’s another area that’s going to be very relevant to clinicians in private practice. The third area is the use of contact lenses as drug delivery devices. Typically we tend to treat diseases, particularly the front of the eyes or anterior SEG diseases instilling drops. That’s actually not a very good way of doing it because not only do patients not use the drops but when we do insert them they actually tend to drain away very quickly. So the result is not that good. We’re actually now developing contact lenses that can deliver drugs to your eye for an extended period of time. We’ve been able to deliver, for example, antibiotics for up to two weeks at a time without removing that lens. It’s sort of interesting companies have been able to develop lens materials that will actually deliver a drug to your eye for things like allergy and in the case of where you scratched your eyes. So deliver agents that will actually help the ocular surface disease better.

Cara Moore: And you’ve got some pretty futuristic technology too, coming down the pipeline.

Dr. Lyndon Jones: Exactly. So again, even further out than that, once we develop these powered contact lenses is the ability to develop materials that can actually do things like for example, take a picture or use facial recognition software. So when you look at someone’s face, it actually gets a message to your retina to actually tell you who that person is, which is quite spectacular, and even being able to stream things like Netflix, and you should be able to stream, for example, your emails. So those are more futuristic, but certainly, all being developed on lots of patents at the moment.

Cara Moore: So, all that being said, it sounds like it’s a pretty exciting time.

Dr. Lyndon Jones: It is. We’re very fortunate. We work with all the global companies that are working in this space and there’s an awful lot of work going on to develop those four things, plus many others. And I think it’s safe to say that contact lenses are very definitely going to be part of the future contact lenses, for the optometric profession.

Cara Moore: All right, Dr. Jones, thanks for being here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry.

Dr. Lyndon Jones: You’re welcome. Thanks a lot.

Cara Moore: Thank you. And thank you for watching Optometry TV.

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