Goat squinting in the sun

Transitions contact lenses receive FDA approval

Image credit: Dreamstime

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval to the first pair of photochromic contact lenses, which balance the amount of light entering the eye.

Ultraviolet light emitted by the sun is largely filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere. The remaining light which reaches the surface can have some health benefits, although it also causes sunburn, solar retinopathy and, after long exposures, can contribute to skin cancer, immune suppression and cataracts.

Sunglasses and photochromic glasses – which have lenses which darken in the presence of intense UV light – can help people cope with the discomfort of intense summer sunlight, although others are left simply squinting and shading their eyes.

Now, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care have presented the first pair of transitions contact lenses, which have been named the Acuvue Oasys lenses. The lenses have been under development for more than a decade.

Transitions contact lenses

Johnson & Johnson Vision

Image credit: Johnson & Johnson Vision

“This innovation was born out of deep research into consumer lifestyle needs and fits our future-forward approach to caring for human sight,” said Dr Xiao-Yu Song, global head of R&D at Johnson & Johnson Vision.

As well as correcting vision for both shortsighted and longsighted wearers, as well as wearers with astigmatism, the lenses darken under bright light to offer extra protection from the sun, becoming clear again under normal light or low-light conditions. This effect is achieved with photochromic filters, which continuously balance the intensity of light entering the eye.

“This contact lens is the first of its kind to incorporate the same technology that is used in eyeglasses that automatically darken in the sun,” said Malvina Eydelman, a director at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement to Medical Xpress.

The FDA gave its seal of approval to the transitions contact lenses following a study that evaluated the daytime and night-time driving performance of 24 people wearing the contact lenses, which found no issues with the contact lenses.

The contact lenses, which are suitable for daily use up to a maximum of two weeks, are due to become commercially available in the first half of 2019.

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