The FDA has approved the first drug-delivering contact lens aimed to treat allergies such as hay fever.
Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, are a common occurrence for people across the world. One of the most common symptoms of allergies includes itchy or watery eyes. Approximately 40% of contact lens wearers suffer from itchy eyes. Moreover, 80% of them report their allergies interfering with normal contact lens wear. Although allergy eye drops exist, they are often uncomfortable to use. As a result, Johnson & Johnson has developed the world’s first drug-delivering contact lens for treating ocular allergies.
According to Johnson & Johnson, the lens, ACUVUE Theravision, is coated with a widely used anti-histamine called Ketotifen. The lens aims to prevent ocular itch due to allergic conjunctivitis in daily contact lens wearers, along with correct vision.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its approval to the new lens. FDA’s approval is based on results from a recent phase 3 trial comprising of more than 200 participants. According to the results published in the journal Cornea, the lens effectively reduced itchy eyes within three minutes of insertion, with results lasting for up to 12 hours. Moreover, the effect was similar to topical drug delivery, but without the inconvenience of putting drops in the eye.
The study authors believe that combining vision correction with a treatment for allergy will improve the management of allergies in contact lens wearers and increase compliance.
The invention is already available in Canada and Japan.
Pall, B., Gomes, P., Yi, F., & Torkildsen, G. (2019). Management of ocular allergy itch with an antihistamine-releasing contact lens. Cornea, 38(6), 713–717. https://doi.org/10.1097/ico.0000000000001911