Change of focus on contact lens
Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Front Page - NZ Herald, 19th March 1993
By Kevin Townsend
An Auckland company and Government scientists have smoothed a problem with bifocal contact lenses and opened the way to potential earnings of tens of millions of dollars a year.
The company, Hirstlens, and scientists from the Government owned Industrial Research, say their design will have a huge effect on the world market for contact lenses.
Most people over 40 need reading glasses but bifocal contact lenses have had problems such as expense and the blurring of vision.
Using specially developed computer programmes to control a lathe that can cut the lenses to an accuracy of 0.000lmm (one micron), the Auckland team produced a lens which gets rid of blurring.
The lens is also comfortable to wear and will probably cost little more than a conventional lens.
The man who first thought of the idea for the lens. Hirstlens joint managing director, Mr lan Handricks, said one previous bifocal design had used a second lens within the main lens.
However, it could cause blurring because it had a join line. In the new bifocal. The join line has been smoothed out.
"We've found a way of getting two different powers without a blurred zone." When reading. The wearer looks through the bottom part of the lens which is pushed up over the pupil by the bottom eyelid as the eye swivels down.
The new lens was developed In consultation with optometrists and clinical fine-tuning of the design will continue for most of this year.
It is expected that the first lens will be available next year.
Mr Handricks said the long-term commercial possibilities of the new design were still being examined but, with five million wearers of contact lenses in the United States alone, the potential market was huge.
"At this stage we have no plans to send this technology overseas. Although the interest from overseas is very high."