Contact Lens Future
The advances made in the contact lens industry are many. Like many other technologies, contacts are ever changing and improving, pointing to a better and clearer future. Contact lenses have change from the hard uncomfortable lenses our mothers and grandmothers wore to the current disposable extended wear silicon-gel lenses of today.
Advances in technology have greatly decreased the amount of problems contact lens wearers’ must deal with, but problems still exist, requiring further research and development. Problems such as oxygen deprivation, poor vision clarity for some wearers, and demands from consumers for greater comfort and extended wear need addressing. Research and development needs to focus on vision clarity, comfort, and the absence of infection and deposits. So how can these improvements be achieved? Through better materials, better design and better lens treatments.
With regard to materials, two main obstacles exist, both relating to oxygen deprivation. The first is lens thickness. The second is sleeping. People suffering from myopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism require thicker lenses resulting in decrease oxygen flow. Everyone else needs sleep. A closed eyelid decreases oxygen flow to an eye that already is compromised by the presence of a lens.
Silicone-hydrogel lenses have a higher oxygen permeability than hydrogel lenses. It also has a very unique quality – its higher water content improves oxygen flow. Additionally silicone-hydrogel conforms more easily to the eye, increasing comfort. This is very important to consumers. The material of the future appears to be silicone-hydrogel.
With regards to improved design, researchers and developers must look to correcting a greater number of disorders through contact lens use. Improved design will produce lenses that are more comfortable and treat astigmatism better.
With regards to cleansing, anything that comes in contact with the eye must be as sterile as possible. It seems contact lenses will always require a strict cleansing protocol. But it can’t hurt to hope.