We shine the spotlight this month on Lentechs, a company developing new soft contact lens technology. I recently had the pleasure to speak with Lentechs President and CEO, Robin Sears.
PRESIDENT AND CEO, LENTECHS
Mr. Sears, please tell us about your company in terms of its history and direction.
Lentechs is headquartered in Columbus, OH, and our technology is licensed directly from The Ohio State University. We believe that we have a new generation of suspended soft contact lenses for presbyopia, for presbyopia with astigmatism, and for single-vision with and without astigmatism that will really add to the treatment armamentarium for these patients.
We have two great inventors participating in the company: Melissa Bailey, OD, PhD, and Joe Barr, OD, MS. They’re great collaborative partners in helping to build the core technology, the lens design, and the clinical program that will prove that the lens works well and is comfortable to wear. We’re really proud of the work that we’ve accomplished over the last three years.
Tell us about any new developments in which Lentechs is involved.
Our new technology is Apioc, a suspended soft contact lens with optics designed to provide discrete vision correction at distance, intermediate, and near. Our lens is designed to float above the cornea on the tear film and to be suspended from the inside of the upper lid. Rather than the lens moving with the eye, the eye moves down behind the lens to access the actual prescription needed for each one of those corrections. This is different from simultaneous vision multifocals, which, as everyone knows, can cause some visual compromise. I think that this has resulted in frustration and in a lot of patients discontinuing contact lens wear.
In addition, I think that many practitioners are frustrated by simultaneous vision lens designs and might not be as enthusiastic about trying to get their older patients into contact lenses. So, there’s another area in which our technology can be a driving force. Our goal for this technology is that it will be easy for practitioners to fit, easy for them to use, and easy for them to have a high success rate. So I think that it will help encourage them to fit the presbyopia population in contact lenses more so than in the past.
That’s what the company has been working on so diligently in our clinical program: making sure that we have the right visual outcomes, great comfort scores, and that it’s easy to fit and easy to use for both practitioners and their patients.
Our goal is to finish up our clinical program in the next few months and to launch in mid-2021. We’re in the process of building up manufacturing capacity here in the United States to meet the anticipated demand.
Tell us your vision for the contact lens field in the short term (less than 5 years) and in the long term (20 years from now).
I think that in these COVID times, the market has rebounded more positively and more quickly than people would have anticipated, which bodes well for the long-term health of the contact lens space. I think that there’s going to continue to be incremental innovation in the base technology that’s in the marketplace now in terms of optical design, polymers, and wetting solutions. This will help keep the market in the mid-single-digits growth rate.
But I think that it’s going to take something transformational to really drive the market to new heights. I think that there’s a desire in the patient population and among contact lens practitioners to grow this market faster. That desire needs to be met with technology that can really advance the vision, comfort, and/or wear time that patients can achieve from contact lenses. If such transformational technologies come about—and I think that our Apioc lens could be one—I think then we could start seeing double-digit growth in the category. CLS