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First One-Day-Only Disposable Lenses Introduced

February 28, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ Contact lens makers have taken disposability to its ultimate level _ lenses you wear for one day and dump in the trash.

Convenient? Yes. You’ll never buy another bottle of lens cleaner. You’ll never awaken with crusty eyes or fogged vision after wearing your lenses to bed.

You’ll pay about $700 a year.

Johnson & Johnson, the company that first introduced disposable lenses in 1987, will launch the first one-day-only product on Wednesday.

1-Day Acuvue lenses will be available nationally, following 1 1/2 years of test marketing in several states.

Competitor Bausch & Lomb began test marketing its own version, called New Day, a month ago.

Optometrists say the new lenses provide the best vision, comfort and safety available, but at a high price.

``If you’re making $700,000 a year, it may be worth it for an individual to pay $700 a year to get the comfort and convenience that a one-day disposable lens offers,″ said Dr. Kenneth Lebow, chairman of the American Optometric Association’s Contact Lens Section. ``If you’re making $700 a month, its obviously a different type of situation.″

Conventional contact lens wearers must perform a nightly ritual of taking out their lenses, rubbing them in cleaner, then placing them in a disinfectant solution overnight. Once a week, wearers must immerse the lenses in an enzyme solution that removes accrued deposits.

While a fresh pair once a year might cost less than $100, the solutions and enzyme pills add about $150 to $200 a year to that total.

In 1987, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Johnson & Johnson Vision Products Inc. introduced the first disposable line, Acuvue. These lenses could be worn for a week straight, then tossed. Or, they could be removed and cleaned each night for two weeks before going in the trash.

J&J’s price for Acuvue was about $400 a year for those who wore them for a week and about $200 for two-week users.

Since then a number of other makers including Rochester, N.Y.-based Bausch & Lomb and Ciba-Geigy Corp. in Ardsley, N.Y introduced similar disposables.

Of the roughly 27 million contact lens wearers in the United States, about 20 percent wear disposables, and the percentage is growing, said J&J Vision president Gary Kunkle.

1-Day Acuvues are a little larger and thicker than conventional lenses. They let less oxygen into the eye, making them unsuitable for overnight wearing.

They come in a box of 30 for each eye and can be delivered directly from the manufacturer.

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