In April, Transitions Optical and Johnson & Johnson Vision (JJV) announced that a photochromic contact lens had been given approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Director of professional education and development for UK and Ireland, and Nordics & DACH Vision Care at JJV, Dr Kamlesh Chauhan (KC), and global director of strategic business innovation at Transitions Optical, Catherine Rauscher (CR), tell OT about working together for a decade to deliver Acuvue Oasys with Transitions light intelligent technology.
What did the partnership set out to achieve?
KC: This strategic partnership combines the respective strengths of each company to deliver a best-in-class vision care innovation to patients. Acuvue is the world leader in contact lenses, and Transitions Optical is the leading provider of photochromic (smart adaptive) spectacles lenses worldwide.
CR: The two companies are working together to create and deliver breakthrough photochromic innovation. This is a strategic innovation partnership with the goal of innovating that will help to continue to grow the category and expand the benefits of photochromics to new patients.
What was considered during research and development to apply the light-adaptive technology to a contact lens?
CR: The principle behind the products is the same. Of course, contact lens materials and processes are different so Transitions technology had to be reimagined for this product. After more than a decade of joint product development, we were able to bring this breakthrough technology to contact lens wearers. This first of its kind contact lens, is built using the proven Oasys (Senofilcon A) material combined with Transitions light intelligent technology (photochromic additive) copolymerised homogeneously throughout the lens matrix.
“After more than a decade of joint product development we were able to bring this breakthrough technology to contact lens wearers”
Were there any hurdles to overcome during development?
KC: There are naturally always hurdles when your aim is to bring first of its kind contact lenses to the market. Developing this specific contact lens was a labour of love for dedicated research associates from both JJV and Transitions Optical for more than a decade. We’ve been collectively relentless and intent on creating and testing different prototypes to come up with the most balanced visual outcomes for patients.
As a company, we invest significantly in new product research and development. With this contact lens in particular, throughout product development, JJV conducted numerous clinical trials involving more than 1000 patients in the UK, US and Australia to better understand their experience while wearing this adaptive lens.
CR: The process used for manufacturing contact lenses is very different from spectacle lenses. Therefore, a unique proprietary process has been developed for this revolutionary new product.
The lenses become darker when activated by UV and/or high energy visible light. They were specifically designed to provide patient benefits while minimising the change to the appearance of the eye. Acuvue Oasys with Transitions light intelligent technology are clear indoors. While outdoors the level of activation is always changing in response to the light, so in most situations the lens isn’t in the darkest state. These lenses also fade back to clear quickly when you come inside.
What are the main features of the contact lens?
KC: The contact lens has a dynamic photochromic filter that helps to continuously balance the amount of light entering the eye, helping the eye manage different types of light and varying intensities of brightness throughout the day. These contact lenses quickly and seamlessly adjust from clear to dark, and back, in response to changing light conditions; reducing exposure to bright light indoors and outdoors, and blocking UV rays.
How quickly does the contact lens transition?
CR: The activation and fade rates of Acuvue Oasys with Transitions light intelligent technology will typically be faster due to the consistent on-eye temperature and the optimised photochromic additive. Because these lenses are constantly maintained at eye temperature, environmental temperature would have a minimal effect with on-eye photochromic performance (activation, darkness, and fade rates).
Why is this a significant development for the category?
CR: This is important because a range of everyday lighting situations, from artificial light to UV rays, can negatively impact eye comfort, vision and health. We are excited to bring to market a solution to help contact lenses wearers manage the changing light conditions they face every day in their modern, active lives.
KC: Consumers have told us that they want additional benefits beyond vision correction in their contact lenses, including reducing the impact of bright light on their eyes. Some people compensate for these bright lighting environments by squinting, shielding their eyes, or dimming lights. Acuvue Oasys with light intelligent technology are designed to automatically adapt, helping the eye manage different types of light and varying intensities of brightness throughout the day.
“We’ve been collectively relentless and intent on creating and testing different prototypes to come up with the most balanced visual outcomes for patients”
What opportunity does this present to practitioners?
CR: Throughout product development we have interviewed over 1200 eye care professionals to ensure we are meeting patients’ needs and providing a product they will recommend. We see this as helping to grow the appeal and demand for Transitions lenses and sunglasses. We are opening a new category of photochromics to recruit new people.
By experiencing the benefits in a contact lens, wearers, especially younger wearers, will be introduced to the Transitions brand in a new way. Most contact lens wearers also own a pair of glasses; now they can experience the benefits of Transitions light intelligent technology in whichever way the prefer their correction.
KC: We believe this first of its kind contact lens will enable eye care professionals to meet a very significant consumer need. Light is everywhere. It is constantly changing and our eyes are continuously working to adjust. The extent to which people are impacted depends on many factors.
What type of patient is the contact lens best suited for?
CR: Acuvue Oasys with Transitions with light intelligent technology is meant for patients who are short-sighted (myopia) or long-sighted (hyperopia) who are negatively affected by bright light in indoor and outdoor environments.
KC: We believe that the features and benefits of this first of its kind product will appeal to a wide variety of patients and that individual management decisions are best decided between a patient and their eye care professional.
Are there any plans to launch the contact lens into European markets, including the UK?
CR: We aspire to make the product globally available. Country timelines will vary based on product clearances. It will be available in the US and select markets in the first half of 2019.
KC: We are currently ramping up production with an innovative new manufacturing platform designed to meet anticipated demand. We are also continuing with our plans to educate both eye care professionals and patients about this exciting new benefit, ensuring they get the best experience at launch.