Optometry & Vision Science (OVS) dedicates this entire issue to contact lenses in suboptimal environments.
Of course clinicians are aware of the challenges of special environments for contact lens wearers, whether it be for very dry and cold environments, windy and dusty exposures, pollen-rich environments, lengthy low humidity airline flights, challenges associated with dry eye complications of systemic medications, an individuals hormonal balance, or a host of other challenging “internal and external soups” that the eye finds itself in during our lifetime. But in truth the history of contact lenses has primarily been one of adapting the contact lenses to the so-called normal environment. With new materials, and a better understanding of the eye’s response to challenging environments, the range of applications and numbers of patients receiving comfortable safe vision has grown impressively.
Our Guest Editors have assembled an impressive compilation of 4 reviews, 11 original papers, and a Perspective that together provide an optimistic perspective of how far we have come since the first contact lenses. It also reveals the nature of the remaining challenges to providing a completely comfortable, completely safe and noncompromising contact lens that would assure retention of existing contact lens wearers and provide correction for the hundreds of millions who could be wearing them. Much is still to be learned about infection, inflammation, allergic responses, and optimal comfort though there have been definite recent advances towards improvements on each of these fronts. The search, and research, for the perfect lens goes on. That said the history of contact lenses is one of spectacular success for our patients.
For this Feature Issue, “Contact lenses in Challenging Environments” I invited four outstanding internationally renowned colleagues to bring OVS readers a first rate single issue focused on the state of the research in contact lenses and contact lens wear. They have done a marvelous job; practitioners and researchers alike should find plenty to interest them and gain new insights into both the recent advances and the remaining challenges. I appreciate their efforts for all of us. All are researchers and active in international education and speaking, but they come from very different research and clinical backgrounds and current positions. Loretta Szczotka, as a faculty researcher and clinician, heads up the cornea and contact lens service at Case Western Reserve University, Department of Ophthalmology. She also serves as a regular member of the OVS Editorial Board. Lyndon Jones is also on the OVS Editorial Board and has a strong background in chemical engineering and clinical care. That serves him well as a researcher and top-flight faculty teacher at the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in Canada, where he is also the Associate Director of the Corneal and Contact Lens Research Center. Deborah Sweeney is both clinician and researcher, at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia. Deborah heads up the huge international Vision Collaborative Research Center (Vision CRC Limited), while also currently serving as the as the President of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE). Donald R. Korb, a practitioner and practice-based researcher in Boston, Massachusetts, has a long and most impressive history as clinician, researcher, entrepreneur and, most of all, a highly successful inventor in the cornea and contact lens field. For many of us Donald is one of the top 20th century contact lens inventors, and a model of the critically thinking clinician whose practice is the primary source of intellectual and research enthusiasm.
Together they represent among the very best of optometric research leadership and creativity in the field of contact lenses. Optometry & Vision Science is grateful for their commitment to the Academy and its Journal.
Anthony J. Adams