was interested to read the press release from 1-800 CONTACTS dated July 26, 2006.
In part the press release read, "ClearLab, a wholly-owned subsidiary of 1-800 CONTACTS,
INC. (Nasdaq: CTAC) unveiled its new AquaSoft Singles, a milestone product that
ClearLab expects will revolutionize single-use contact lens wear through an innovative
flat pack for contact lenses."
Just the facts
A media event was held in conjunction with the
press release and included international industry experts Nathan Efron, D.Sc., M.C.Optom,
F.A.A.O., Steve Newman, Chief Technology Officer for ClearLab and Jonathan Coon,
President of 1-800-CONTACTS. I listened with interest as Dr. Efron and Mr. Newman
described the difficulty that patients have in understanding and handling contact
lens cases, solutions and labeling.
I had to agree with everything they
said as an accurate description of the issues that contact lens patients deal with.
In fact, many of the points mentioned are things we all recognize as the reasons
that many contact lens patients discontinue contact lens wear.
What does this innovative approach
to contact lens packaging and labeling mean to contact wearers in the United States?
Right now it doesn't mean much. ClearLab does not currently do business in the
United States. Now you have to wonder, with the United States being the largest
contact lens market in the world why ClearLab isn't marketing in the United States.
(See above, "ClearLab, a wholly-owned subsidiary of 1-800 CONTACTS.") At the media
event, Jonathan Coon, President of 1-800 CONTACTS, indicated that ClearLab needs
to be spun-off from 1-800 Contacts, as a stand-alone entity and also needs a strategic
Sink or swim?
Now that brings me to another question: Do you
think any contact lens product no matter how innovative it might be
can be successful in the United States if it's origin is in anyway tied to 1-800
We optometrists always say that our
prime concern is our patient's best interest. So, if the ClearLab AquaSoft Singles
were the best alternative for your patient, would you prescribe them or look for
Actions speak loudest
My reason for writing on this topic and raising
these questions is to point to the blurring of the lines between what we have always
said relative to what we often do. In the future of optometry and the entire ophthalmic
industry, products will come and go, newly developed technology will replace that
which is traditional and corporate entities will transition and morph.
The right direction
The best guide that we can have relative to any
development in our industry, our profession and our practice, is to always focus
on the patient first. That's the direction that has brought us this far and will
take us into the future.