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Scientist Using Rabbits to Develop Sunshade Contact Lens

August 25, 1986

HOUSTON (AP) _ Researchers are testing contact lenses on rabbits in hopes of developing similar lenses to protect humans from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

″It’s a soft contact lens that has the ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation - the first I know of anywhere in the world,″ said Dr. Donald Graves Pitts, a University of Houston researcher. ″By next summer, we should have those lenses on the market.″

Pitts’ UVX lens is intended for people who abuse their eyes at the beach or poolside, particularly in sunny climates like Texas.

About 40 rabbits have custom-fitted UVX contact lenses. Rabbits are used because their tearing systems are superior to humans, who must blink to keep eyes lubricated, Pitts says.

Pitts, a professor of environmental optometry and visual science, used similar research with rabbits in the 1960s to find ways to protect astronauts’ eyes from radiation in space and on the moon.