With Halloween literally around the corner, we are seeing many companies advertising fun or crazy lenses. These lenses are generally only to be worn for a few hours a day and really still need the full pre-consultation for contact lens wear and hygiene.
In a recent meeting for contact lens distributors hosted by Eurocontact in the Netherlands, it was shown that most complications are from fun/crazy lenses and coloured contact lenses. It is generally accepted by clinicians that the most significant complication of contact lens wear is microbial keratitis and that the most predominant microbial pathogen is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The most significant reason for these symptons is not the actual contact lens but the lack of a stricter hygiene regime. The worry with fun lenses around Halloween is simply that wearers will by-pass the Eye Care Professional (ECP) in order to try on these lenses.
It is for this reason and that the complications are larger with fun lenses that we choose not to sell crazy/fun lenses. Our main emphasis will remain on the replacement contact lenses market.
Did you know that diabetes, if not treated, could make you blind? On the bright side, thanks to glucose levels affecting the eye, there are now contact lenses in the making that may help in monitoring blood sugar. This remarkable technology works with PET material containing a computer chip and electrodes. The electrodes generate tiny currents in the tear fluid that subsequently detects dissolved sugar, then sends data through an antenna wirelessly to a portable device. This process allows diabetics to efficiently overview effects of diet and medication by simply keeping a device in their pocket.
More testing will need to be done before the lens is available on the market, but thanks to the University of Washington in Seattle, people with diabetes will hopefully soon be able to overview glucose levels by using contact lenses.
Why are J&J falling short? Despite the fact that Johnson & Johnson (one of our suppliers) keeps on growing in terms of sales, their profit was reported to decrease for Q3. J&J do supply a range of other products than contact lenses, but AP further reports that worldwide, medical devices and diagnostics revenue rose by 6.1%. Product recalls is mentioned as one reason of increased cost for J&J. (Trueye was one of the recalled products, but is now supplied again.)
Competitive brands offered to better prices, is mentioned as another reason for the lower profits. One of these rivals is possibly Aura 1 Day, a new lens by R&L vision that have become very popular in our shop. This daily disposable lens has been tested against 1 Day Acuvue by Johnson & Johnson, proving to offer better quality at a lower price.
Silicone hydrogel contact lenses are a breathable type of contact lenses that are fairly new on the market, allowing a higher level of oxygen to the cornea than traditional hydrogel lenses. Surprisingly, the demand for daily silicone hydrogel contact lenses is not that high while traditional dailies stay popular.
At the moment, there are two daily disposable lenses made from silicon hydrogel (SiH); Johnson & Johnson’s TruEye and Sauflon’s Clariti.* However, notable is that the contact lens manufacturer Ciba Vision will within the next quarter launch their daily disposable silicon hydrogel (SiH) in Europe. The lens will be named Dailies Total 1, launched in the US in 2012, only after its European launch.
Other manufacturers will not wait long to jump on the SiH band wagon. We expect CooperVision to launch a daily SiH lens in 2012. Considering their current prices, we expect them to be more price competitive than Ciba Vision and Johnson&Johnson.
What is our reasoning around the modest demand for silicone hydrogel dailies? We believe cost plays a role; the expense consumers endure when shopping SiH is higher, compared to traditional dailies. As re-sellers of replaceable contact lenses, at VisionDirect.co.uk, we can only replicate what the market wants. Aura 1 day by R&L Vision are the fastest growing daily disposable lenses in our portfolio – by far. These contact lenses are hydrogel dailies, equivalent to Focus Dailies ADC and 1 Day Acuvue.
There are new silicone hydrogel dailies coming to the market with potential, but hydrogel lenses is here to stay. In terms of cost, they remain the consumers’ preference. Is SiH worth the hype? We do not think so.
* Two main conglomerate companies. (There are far-east companies, but those are likely to be first generation SiH only.)