The arrival of two new types of contact lenses could change the contact lens landscape in Australia and optometrists should do their own research to determine the lenses’ benefits, according to Brisbane optometrist David Foresto.
‘Two huge launches are happening right now in Australia—Bausch and Lomb’s Biotrue ONEday daily disposable hypergel contact lenses, and Alcon’s Dailies Total1 water gradient contact lenses,’ he said.
‘This is the biggest shake-up in contact lens technology since silicone hydrogels launched 10 to 15 years ago.’
Mr Foresto, president of Queensland and Northern Territory Division, will be speaking about new contact lens technologies at Super Sunday in Sydney on 15 June, organised by the association.
He said Biotrue ONEday had much higher than normal water content at 78 per cent, while Dailies Total1 varied from 33 per cent water content in the core to 80 per cent on the surface. ‘We expect them to be soft and comfortable but will they dehydrate? We only have company data,’ Mr Foresto said.
‘Initially lenses can be soft and comfortable but they can dry out as the day progresses, which results in surface and vision changes. The question is whether these new technologies have broken this rule.
‘Early indications from overseas where they have been launched are that both show great merit, but companies can be selective so how do optometrists know where to look for early data and pilot studies?’
Mr Foresto said Contact Lens Spectrum was aggressive at fishing out data and pilot studies, and journals such as Contact Lens and Anterior Eye and Clinical and Experimental Optometry were also good sources.
‘Websites such as Medscape and Helio are good at flagging early data from trials,’ he said. ‘There are no long-term, big-scale analyses of these new lenses; it could be years before we have large-scale peer reviewed studies. Safety is not a concern but end of day comfort and vision are what we need to know about compared with other contact lenses.’
Mr Foresto suggested optometrists try the new lenses and not abandon them if they were successful for one patient but not the next.
‘A good idea is to keep a log of your first 20 patients to try them, recording how happy they are with the lenses and who is more suited. You can be a bit more objective this way. Don’t stop fitting them just because one patient has a bad experience,’ he said.
He said the main reason people abandoned contact lenses was discomfort and dry eye, which was the reason companies invested heavily in lenses with new technology for moisture retention.
Mr Foresto said marketing meant daily disposables were becoming the norm. He thinks the new technologies will engage the market and get people into practices asking for contact lenses and may also increase demand for prescription lenses.
‘Only five per cent of those with refractive error wear contact lenses in Australia so there is plenty of room to grow,’ he said.
Optometrists can earn up to 30 points in one day at Super Sunday plus 21 points for Saturday workshops and coursework. See www.optometrists.asn.au/nsw or email firstname.lastname@example.org.