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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 3 years ago

Eye on the prize: Contact lens breakthrough wins accolades

Time magazine lavishes praise on a Pinellas Park company's invention.

It might not have the panache of Time magazine's much-ballyhooed “Person of the Year," but getting on the periodical's best inventions of the year list is a not-too-shabby accomplishment. 

That score goes to Pinellas Park's Transitions Optical, which partnered with Jacksonville-based Johnson & Johnson Vision to create a new type of photochromic contact lenses that go from clear to dark as wearers move into differently lit environments.

The lenses, marketed by Johnson & Johnson as part of its Acuvue Oasys brand, incorporate Transitions Optical’s Light Intelligent Technology. Light-adaptive technology has been in use in eyeglass lenses for many years, but it took Transitions Optical more than a decade of research and development to adapt the feature for contact lenses.

“Imagine never having to shield your eyes from blinding sunlight, or feel the strain of eight-plus hours under fluorescent bulbs,” Time states in its Best Inventions of 2018 report. “That’s the allure of Acuvue’s forthcoming line of light-sensitive, vision-correcting contact lenses (developed in partnership with Transitions Optical).”

Catherine Rauscher, global director of strategic business innovation at of Transitions Optical, tells Coffee Talk it’s “absolutely incredible” to be honored as one of Time’s top new products of 2018. “Time magazine is so iconic," she adds. "To make that list is thrilling.”

Rauscher says the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has signed off on the new lens technology, and she expects the product to be available in the first half of 2019. “There’s been a high level of interest from eye care professionals,” she says. “We’re confident we’ll see exciting results.”

(This story has been updated to clarify the name of Transition Optical's Light Intelligent Technology, as well as when the new type of contact lenses will be available to consumers.) 

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