Israeli-made theraputic contact lenses receive FDA approval

Lenses that treat corneal edema are entering the market.

A contact lens (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A contact lens
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The FDA has approved a new therapeutic contact lens that will help treat corneal edema, a common eye condition in adults that causes swelling, a build-up of fluid, blurred vision, haziness and scarring. EyeYon, the Israeli company responsible for this development, created these special lenses in an effort to increase the amount of time eye drops can remain in the eye in order to help alleviate symptoms of the condition which is common after cataract and corneal transplant surgeries. 

“(Drops) are washed out from the center of the cornea a few seconds after the patient blinks,” Nahum Ferera, CEO of EyeYon told The Media Line. “So, this lens has a very unique design that creates a cavity above the center of the cornea that increases contact time (with the eye drop solution).”
This Hyper-CL lens, which is unlike others on the market, has dual base curves, eight small holes and a reservoir above the center of the cornea, which is the part of the eye that deflects light and is responsible for about a third of the eye’s optical power.
The holes in the lens enable the prescribed drops and ointments to seep into the eye under the contact lens, allowing for the extraction of excess fluids from the cornea.
“Your eye has a membrane which is a layer of cells in the cornea which pumps water out of the cornea,” Dr. Brian Marr, associate professor at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City told The Media Line. “The cornea is like a dry sponge and the only thing that is keeping it dry is this endothelium (membrane of cells).”
When the cornea has too much fluid, vision is affected.
“Patients have described it as looking through ground glass or like they are in a steam room but there is no steam,” Dr. Marr added.
Currently, the only products to alleviate symptoms from corneal edema are a sodium chloride solution and ointment which are used by patients as they await corneal transplant surgeries.
While the lens is a breakthrough, it is not a permanent solution.
“Our lens is a palliative treatment because it doesn’t eradicate the problem, it just helps to manage it,” Dr. Ofer Daphna, EyeYon’s medical director said. “So, if a patient is on a waiting list for a corneal transplant or is suffering from chronic pain, then these patients can benefit from our contact lenses.”
Typically, patients use these lenses until they have the corneal transplant and then use them for a month or two following the surgery, Ferara told The Media Line.
The FDA-approved lenses are currently only sold in Europe and Asia where there are about 1,000 patients using them.
“Israel has a very small market and we wanted to be very focused so we selected other territories that would be a benefit to the company,” Ferera said, adding that they are focused mainly on Asia because corneal transplants are limited there and patients need relief in the meantime.
EyeYon plans to begin marketing the 14-day disposable lenses, which cost $50 each, in the United States in 2017.