Alcon has officially launched its eagerly-awaited Dailies Total 1 contact lens in the UK and promised a new era in comfort through water gradient technology.
The technology uses an increase in water content, from 33 per cent in the core of the lens to 80 per cent on the surface, to mimic the water content of the cornea and permit higher oxygen transmissibility than rival dailies.
The contact lens, a first silicone hydrogel (SiH)-based daily lens released under the brand, will be sent to practices this month following a 10 year development plan. Over the past two years it has been released in other European markets, hitting Nordic and Benelux countries first.
Dailies Total1 global manager Mark Draper said it created a new category of contact lenses aside from silicone hydrogel and would be sold at the premium end of the market. He said: 'It has never been done before where you have different material properties from core to surface.'
The 0.9mm-thick lenses, made using Alcon's patented 'LightStream' manufacturing process, were introduced at a media briefing in London last week and reached practices on April 2. Alcon's trial patients rated the lenses 9.5 out of 10 at the beginning of the day and 9.2 at the end.
Alcon said Dailes Total1's non-siH surface gel resulted in improved 'lubricity' - a relatively new measure of comfort - and the lens glided faster through water in a race against rival brands shown to journalists.
Dailies Total1 senior brand manager Andrea Anderson said: 'This is something we think is going to revolutionise the market.'
She added that 44 per cent of contact lenses experienced discomfort. 'This means they are not satisfied with their contact lenses and there is a risk they will drop out of the contact lens market,' she said.
Alcon has found there are 240,000 contact lens drop-outs in the UK and Ireland per year, equating to around £26.5m in lost sales and costing the average practice £3,000 each year.
'We are bringing to market here a product that is so comfortable you feel like you are wearing nothing. Part-time contact lens patients would wear them more if they felt they were more comfortable. There is also an opportunity to upgrade full-time patients because we can make satisfied patients even happier with their contact lens experience,' added Anderson.
As part of the launch Alcon was to send out an 18-strong practice academy team to explain how the new lens worked to practitioners.
Professional services manager Andrew Elder-Smith added: 'We are not asking people to take a huge amount of time to go out of practice. We will go to them.'