Lentechs’ New Contact Lens for True Progressive Vision

About 2 billion people around the world have presbyopia, sometimes called “old sight.” Presbyopia develops due to the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye as humans age, causing blurred near vision. The condition is relatively easily corrected through bifocal eyeglasses, but not contact lenses. Still, most consumers with presbyopia would prefer to wear contact lenses.

“Only about 4 percent of the people over sixty years old are wearing contact lenses as a means of correction for presbyopia,” said Robin Sears, Lentechs president and CEO.

Lentechs, a spinout of The Ohio State University (OSU) is developing a new class of suspended soft contact lens that offers a true glasses-like, progressive vision for presbyopia.

“Lentechs aims to provide this population the first and only fully translating (allowing the eye to move freely up and down behind the contact lens) soft contact lens that is comfortable and provides crisp corrected vision similar to progressive addition glasses,” he said.

Lentechs Has Two Issued Patents and Four More Filed

About 94 percent of the contact lens market is in soft contact lenses. Advances over the last forty years have been mainly in polymers and the optical surface of the contact lenses.

Inventors, Dr. Melissa Baily and Dr. Joe Barr, and co-founders of Lentechs took a different approach. They came up with an entirely new way of suspending the contact lens from the inside of the upper eyelid, above the lid wiper. The lens anchors in place, allowing the eye to move freely inside the lens, as it does behind a pair of bifocal glasses, rather than the usual tightly-fit contact lens that adheres to the ocular surface and moves with the eye.

“With our lens, because the optics are correct for an individual’s prescription at every distance, patients don’t have to learn to wear the lens,” Sears said. “It should be a simpler experience for the user.”

With fifteen innovations on the front and back of the lens, the APIOC™ lens by Lentechs allows discrete vision correction at all distances: far, intermediate, and near.

“We spent three years developing the lens, creating the design with hundreds of different iterations,” Sears said. “We had the world’s experts in contact lens manufacturing and design involved in our prototyping, and we still came across technical hurdles that they had not contemplated. That shows how different our technology is; we overcame problems for which the experts in the field didn’t have solutions. We discovered completely new ways of solving problems.”

The APIOC™ lens received FDA approval last fall and is in clinical trials.

View the APIOCTM clinical trial results below.

More than 130 patients have already been fitted in this new generation of contact lens; the company anticipates finalizing clinical results in 2020 and launching a regional test late in the year. The APIOC™ lens will be distributed only through optometrists.

Lentechs Builds Efficient, Cohesive Team and Leverages Rev1 Resources and Support 

“People have great ideas all the time,” Sears said. “The thing that separates great ideas that don’t go anywhere from getting a great product to market is that you have to have a great group of people rallied around the idea and collaborating to solve problems and move things forward with urgency.”

In 2018, the company founders went through Rev1’s Customer Learning Lab. They continued their work from Rev1’s innovation center, with office and laboratory facilities at Rev1 Labs.

“The guidance of Rev1 has been instrumental in crafting the business model and the capital access plan,” Sears said. “People underestimate the power of having a like-minded community of startups with the same goal of creating something from nothing. The credibility of having Rev1 invest in the company, when they see so many ideas, goes a long way in the eyes of other investors.”