The US Food and Drug Association (FDA) have recently approved the first ever tinted contact lenses, which is expected to be introduced in early 2019. Created by UK business Johnson & Johnson Vision, this new eyewear has technology inside it that will make the lens darken automatically in reaction to light exposure.
Whilst this is an exciting breakthrough in the eyecare industry, as lens wearers won’t need to worry about grabbing a pair of sunglasses as soon as they step outdoors into the sunlight, questions are already arising about how popular they will be from a fashion perspective, with tinted glasses continuing to be dubbed as ‘nerdy’ in this social climate.
The technology behind the new tinted contact lenses
Based on a very similar concept to the prescription tinted glasses, the new tinted contact lens contains a photochromic additive that adapts the amount of visible light filtered to the eye, based on the amount of UV light to which the user is exposed to.
FDA’s Malvina Eydelman describes these innovative lenses:
“This contact lens is the first of its kind to incorporate the same technology that is used in eyeglasses that automatically darken in the sun.”
This light-sensitive lens will automatically darken in reaction to bright sunlight, whilst returning back to normal in lesser lit lighting conditions, for example, when indoors. These new lenses will be available for both short and long-sighted visual abilities and are likely to last a maximum of two weeks before needing to be thrown away. They should not be exposed to water and it has also been advised that those with an infection or inflammation in or around the eyes should not use these lenses.
This new tinted contact lens is expected to launch at the beginning of next year, and in the meantime, we will wait for a price to be released for this new eye care innovation.
What are the pros of the new tinted contact lens?
- No more watery eyes - exposure to the sun can cause our eyes to water, especially with contact lenses in. This new technology in contact lenses will prevent this along with things like irritated eyes and smudged makeup
- Convenience - you won’t need to keep putting on a pair of glasses when you go outside as your contact lenses will adjust your eyes to the sun exposure
- Safe to drive in - the lenses were tested on 24 patients to make sure there were no problems with driving during the day and night. None of the users reported any issues.
What are the cons of the new tinted contact lens?
- Your eyes will change colour - just like prescription transition glasses that change colour, the colour of your iris is going to do the same. Many people wear contact lenses for aesthetic reasons, so this technology could arguably be counter-productive in some ways
- Your eyes are not protected from the sunlight - Ravi Goel, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology has expressed concerns about excess sun exposure and the permanent damage it can have on our eyes, as these contact lenses will not provide protection from this.
- Will these lenses have the same reputation as tinted prescription glasses? - despite being immensely useful, tinted glasses unfortunately have not been able to shake the association with being ‘nerdy’ and ‘uncool’. Will these tinted contact lenses face the same stigma?
Ravi Goel states:
"If your eyes are exposed to strong sunlight for too long without protection, UV rays can damage the cornea and adjacent tissues. Long-term sun exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and growths on or near the eye."
Do you see yourself wearing these contact lenses to transform your vision in the summer, or will the tinted aesthetic mean they’ll only be used once a year for the Halloween festivities?