From THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, December 18, 2001


India, growing market for contact lenses

M. Somasekhar


VISION products majors -- Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb, Wesley-Jessen Corp. and Innotech Inc -- have identified India as a growing market for new, eye-related products.

This is reflected in the increasing number of patents these companies have filed in the last few years. Most of the 89 patents filed with the Indian Patent Office revolve around contact lenses.

The dominance of these four companies is clear from the fact that they account for 76 out of the total 89 patents filed since 1995, according to a study done by the Patent Facilitating Centre (PFC) of the Technology Information Forecasting Assessment Council (TIFAC). It is estimated that the market for contact lenses is huge in India. It ranges from people requiring correction of myopia to astigmatism. Ironically, there is no Indian company active in this area, the TIFAC study pointed out.

Interestingly, Johnson & Johnson's patent claims relate to a variety of contact lenses. These include lenses which have contoured edges with identifying marks and hydrophilic crosslinkers etc. The whopping number of 47 patents that the company has filed out of 89 also include claims for manufacturing process of the lenses, a system of contact lens transfer and material removal. Bausch & Lomb, which has a long presence in India has 16 patent claims. These include process of manufacture of contact lenses having ultra-violet absorbing properties, composition for disinfecting contact lenses, treatment with aqueous solutions, and disposable contact lenses.

Wesley-Jessen Corp has claimed an improved pinhole lens with a very natural appearance, a colour modifying lens, an automatic lens inspection system and a method for automatic manufacture and printing on contact lenses and apparatus.

The interest and efforts exhibited by these companies could be a precursor to the setting up of manufacturing or marketing products, which could translate to a new range of contact lenses in the country soon, the PFC inferred.

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