A major breakthrough in finding the right material may now lead to applications in non-ophthalmic fields including biomedical and industrial uses.

The CRC for Eye Research and Technology, CRC-ERT based in Sydney, CIBA Vision in the US and Novartis, Switzerland, worked together to design and develop a unique new polymer, which allows the eye to ‘breathe’ oxygen through the lens from the eyelid during sleep, setting new standards for oxygen transmissibility in contact lenses.  

This new lens, called the Focus NIGHT & DAYTM lens, allows the transmission of six times the oxygen compared to any available conventional product. This eliminates hypoxia and all its side effects. Focus NIGHT & DAYTM is a fluoroether-based silicone hydrogel.

This breakthrough in the development of the material means continuous lens wear is now possible for thirty days and nights. This was impossible with even the best conventional lenses, which should be removed every night for ocular health.

The development of an extended-wear contact lens has been hindered in the past because it was not possible to make a suitable lens material combining the properties of softness, proper movement on the eye, and high oxygen permeability. Lotrafilcon A, a novel contact lens material, is characterised by these properties.

An international commercialisation agreement involving the CRC-ERT, CIBA Vision (US) and Novartis (Switzerland) supported the development of Lotrafilcon A and the Focus Night & DayTM Lens.

CRC-ERT was established in 1991, is directed by Professor Brien Holden and comprises a number of research groups, including those from the University of New South Wales and CSIRO.    

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