Tech Innovations in the Contact Lens Industry

The Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM) recently reported an 11.5% increase in the UK contact lens market, officially becoming larger than all of its European neighbours. With 36.4 million contact lens wearers, the industry has been bolstered by technological advancements and innovative projects.

As we enter the next phase of new technology, significant brands are battling to release the first of their future-centric inventions. Today, we’ll look at the most promising tech innovations in the industry, both in development and already released.

The advent of contact lens e-commerce

With new tech released practically every quarter, it’s easy to overlook how much progress has already been made in the e-commerce sector. Today’s lens wearers can buy contact lenses online and have them shipped out on the same day, with delivery on the next. Contact lens options available online have also increased in quality and functionality. Where just a decade ago, a premium price tag would have come with accessing such products via e-commerce, lens wearers can now buy boxes of some of the most advanced contacts at a discounted price. The Acuvue Moist lenses use Lacreon technology to embed water-holding agents in etafilcon A for better wear despite being a daily contact lens. Its price is regularly slashed, and it still comes with EyeCare+, a service that gives users access to premium contact lens check-ups, reorder reminders, an online eye care centre, and communication from UK-based optical experts.

Platforms have also become so robust that users can even take eye exams on the same device they use to browse for products. There are many variants, but consumers can easily filter products by brand, lens type, and wearing cycle. Additionally, people can get a lens subscription that automatically brings replenishments to their doorstep every month.

It’s not just platforms seeing such advancement in e-commerce, either. For those with a specific contact lens in mind but aren’t sure about the details, there are now AI-powered assistants like Cherry. The shopping assistant can scan screenshots and images the user provides and identify the product. From there, Cherry looks for the product online and directs the user to a legitimate platform where they can transact.

Introducing the spiral contact

The spiral contact lens is one of the most fascinating innovations to hit the market. This product uses a spiral-shaped lens to create ‘optical vortices.’ These vortices can create differing focal points, enabling the wearer to focus on any distance with just one lens type.

They work much like progressive lenses, but they improve upon them by removing the warped vision that progressives usually give when moving your eye line from one focal point to another. Unlike the old multi-focus tech that glasses users are accustomed to, this contact lens can provide focus at all times. This functionality works regardless of lighting conditions, distance, and eye movement.

The technology is already there, and medical trials are underway to ensure the product’s long-term safety and effectiveness before it hits the public space. So far, results have been promising, as trial patients have shown marked improvements in their vision while using the product.

Smart contact lenses

Smart products are here to stay, with many people decking out their entire homes in smart technology to create a whole ecosystem powered by digital access and the internet. Accessories have increasingly turned to the smart side, from the Apple Watch to the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses. So much progress has been made in the vast scope of this sector, so it’s no wonder that smart contact lenses are also in the works. It’s an inevitable progression that maintains the functionality of contacts in an age increasingly overtaken by screens and connectivity. These lenses are still in development but already hold promising features for future users.

The smart contact lens from Singapore monitors the wearer’s well-being, corrects vision, and finds flags for chronic diseases like diabetes and glaucoma. Another potential function would be to record everything the wearer sees and hears and then transfer it to the cloud. What already exists is the flexible battery it will run on, which is so thin that it can rest on the cornea potentially without irritating the eye. The way it informs the wearer of this data is by direct transmission via another emerging technology – augmented reality (AR).

Mojo Vision is one of the brands pioneering this movement with the Mojo Lens, an augmented reality contact lens undergoing clinical trials. The company’s CEO has already worn it and has received active development support from Amazon. Because of this partnership, the AR lens prototype has been tested and proven compatible with the Alexa Shopping List app. Running with battery power and wireless communication, the device could connect to the app and ask Alexa to create a shopping list that can be viewed through the lens. Talk about looking innovation right in the eye.