Keeping presbyopes in contact lenses

Contact lens wear drops off before people reach the age of presbyopia, event attendees hear


At the age of 30–35, contact lens wear reaches its peak before dropping off, years before many patients will notice the first signs of presbyopia, Professor James Wolffsohn informed practitioners at an Alcon event.

“There’s an important job to be done there to keep people in their contact lenses,” he added.

Professor Wolffsohn, of Aston University, presented the variety of solutions that are available and in development to treat presbyopia, from spectacles and intraocular lenses to surgical interventions, at the official launch of Alcon’s newest multifocal contact lens in Warwickshire on Wednesday (28 September).

As well as reviewing current technologies – from multifocal contact lenses with concentric to aspheric designs – he highlighted the goals that the industry is working towards, such as lens materials that could be used to refill the capsular bag.

“The market is huge if we get this right,” Professor Wolffsohn emphasised.

He also highlighted the UK’s ageing population and the need for cataract surgery that is and will keep growing in response. Contact lens wear prior to the development of cataracts could help to transition these patients, he explained.

“There’s a huge role for us to prepare people for the future,” Professor Wolffsohn said.

Contact lens manufacturer Alcon believes its newest offering for presbyopes – Dailies Total 1 Water Gradient daily disposable contact lenses – raises the stakes.

The multifocal lenses incorporate new technologies to address a number of common reasons behind contact lens drop-out, attendees heard.

The unique “water gradient” material has a core of 33% moisture that increases to 80% on the surface. Alcon head of professional affairs, Jonathon Bench, emphasised that the technology aims to result in “a tear film and a contact lens that start to be as one.”

The new lenses also disperse a compound found in tears, phosphatidylcholine, into the wearer’s tear film in order to stabilise the lipid layer and address dryness, Mr Bench informed the audience.

To find out more about Alcon’s new product, visit the Alcon website.

Top tips

Optometrist and University of Manchester vision sciences fellow, Sarah Morgan, offered attendees a few tips on a patient’s first contact lens fitting:

  1. Don’t underestimate the psychological impact of a person who is starting to experience the first symptoms of presbyopia. This is especially true for the lucky ones who have had an otherwise healthy life. Optometrists may deal with it daily, but for that patient it is likely to be a really big deal
  2. It can often be a good idea to begin your lifestyle questions with ‘Tell me.’ The importance of asking open questions is well known, and these two little words are a great way to get patients to open up. The bonus is, the more you get a person talking about themselves, the more they love you
  3. Don’t set your patients tasks to do – it’s best to resist your vision-questioning urges. Just tell your patients to go out and use their new lenses and discover in what ways they can help them. Remember that if you are able to manage a presbyope through the process of finding suitable vision correction, you’ll likely have a devoted patient for life.