Future of contact lens usage

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I was recently part of a small committee looking at higher qualifications in contact lens practice and the discussion turned to future technologies. There was mention of different materials and different applications of contact lenses. Drug delivery with contact lenses was discussed as this has been talked about in the literature for a while. The first paper I could find that talked about using contact lenses for drug delivery dates back over 40 years. There was a review paper in CLAE in 2008 that looked specifically at this too [1]. However, where are these products? Why are we not seeing them in the market place? Maybe the technology is not quite there yet, or maybe patents are prohibiting usage or maybe the market is not big enough to develop such products? We do have lenses on the market with slow release of lubricating agents but not therapeutic agents used for ocular or systemic conditions. Contact lenses with pathogen detectors may be part of our contact lens armoury of the future and again we can already see papers in the literature that have trialled this technology for glucose monitoring in diabetics or lactate concentration in the tear film.
Future contact lenses may incorporate better optics based on aberration control and we see this starting to emerge with aspheric designs designed to minimise spherical aberration. Irregular corneas can be fitted with topography based designs and again this technology exists and is being used by some manufacturers in their designs already. Moreover, the topography based fitting of irregular corneas is certainly something we see a lot of today and CLAE has seen many articles related to this over the last decade or so.
What about further into the future? Well one interesting area must the 3-dimensional contact lenses, or contact lenses with electronic devices built in that simulate a display screen. A little like the virtual display spectacles that are already sold by electronics companies. It does not take much of a stretch of the imagination to see a large electronic company taking this technology on and making it viable. Will we see people on the train watching movies on these electronic virtual reality contact lenses? I think we will, but when is harder to know.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155
Number of pages1
JournalContact Lens and Anterior Eye
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

Bibliographic note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Contact lens and anterior eye. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Naroo, SA, 'Future of contact lens usage' Contact lens and anterior eye, vol. 36, no. 4 (2013) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clae.2013.05.001

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