[ASC-media] More information: big returns from clearer vision

CRCA Media crcamedia at starclass.com.au
Tue Mar 28 07:27:45 EST 2006


CRCA Media Release 06/06

March 28, 2006



BIG RETURNS FROM CLEARER VISION 


Over 60 million people around the world who wear contact lenses will soon have better vision and greater comfort, thanks to polymers developed by an Australian research collaboration.

"A hundred and twenty five million people wear contact lenses, and half of them will be wearing silicone hydrogel lenses within the next five years," says Professor Deborah Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer of the Vision Cooperative Research Centre. 

"Ten million people are already wearing the lenses, which provide more oxygen to the front surface of the eye to ensure ocular health," she says.

CRC researchers, working with the global vision company CIBA Vision®, developed the NIGHT & DAY® lens launched in 1999, and the O2OPTIX™ lens which was launched in the US in 2004 and in Australia in 2005.

"The key was the development of polymers that allow the eye to breathe and that are soft and clear enough to be used as contact lenses," says Professor Sweeney. "This was a puzzle which had occupied researchers around the world for thirty years."

The breakthrough highly oxygen permeable soft contact lenses provide safe, convenient vision correction and enhance eye health.  The NIGHT & DAY contact lenses enabled lenses to be worn for extended periods for the first time, while the O2OPTIX lenses were designed to be more affordable to bring the benefits of increased oxygen within the reach of daily lens wearers. 

A recent report by the Allen Consulting Group (2005) found that the Vision CRC and its international partners have gained a significant share of the global market.  The worldwide contact lens market is currently US$4.6 billion.  It is predicted that silicone hydrogel lenses will capture at least half of the market.  It is also expected that the convenience of extended wear will entice spectacle wearers to contact lenses, triggering market growth.

"The sales of O2OPTIX and NIGHT & DAY lenses generated US$10m in royalties for the Vision CRC in 2004-05.  That figure is expected to rise significantly over the life of the patents, which extend to 2014," says Professor Sweeney.  

The royalty income will be reinvested in CRC research, development and education.

Other work by the CRC includes the development of contact lenses for specific problems such as myopia and presbyopia, including a multifocal contact lens for ageing eyes, and contact lenses that may slow or prevent the development of myopia.

Another major project of the CRC, with anticipated returns of some $150 million, is the corneal onlay program, which is developing a permanent method of vision correction through the implantation of a lens just under the surface of the cornea.

The CRC also conducts educational programs for eyecare practitioners throughout the world. "Hundreds of practitioners and PhD students each year are helped by Vision CRC educational programs," says Professor Sweeney. "The aim is expansion of knowledge of the improved technology, and worldwide improvement in eyecare.

"We also ensure that a proportion of our royalties is directed back to participant organisations that are involved in humanitarian activities," she says. 

The work of the Vision CRC supports Australia's National Research Priority No. 2, Promoting and Maintaining Good Health.

Overall, the nation is $1.14 billion better off, or sixty cents wealthier for every dollar invested by the Federal Government in CRC research, according to the Allen Consulting Group report. This found that real consumption in the economy was up by $763 million, real investment by $417 million and tax revenue by $66m as a result of CRC research.

More information:
Professor Deborah Sweeney, CEO, CRC Vision, 02 9385 7409
Kylie Evans , CRC Vision, 02 9385 7406.  Email: k.evans at visioncrc.org
Duncan Buckeridge, formerly with The Allen Consulting Group, now with
Insight Economics, 03 9909 7545 or 0425784107
Prof. Julian Cribb, CRCA Media,	0418 639 245
More science stories: http://www.sciencealert.com.au

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