Contact lens development continues to advance creating significant benefits for user’s vision correction. However, the sector still suffers from considerable wearer discontinuation rates. The purpose of this project was to identify the common and underlying factors in low contact lens retention rates and how these can be improved. The areas for design opportunity related to the causes and sources of infections and ocular discomfort. The final design developed was an integrated contact lens care and monitoring system, combining personalised app (iCare) driven lens information and a smart connected designer lens case (iBall).
When looking into the main reasons for contact lens drop out rates, the theme of discomfort kept appearing. This is primarily caused by inflammatory complications. Without even realising it, contact lens wearers are increasing these infection rates. The risk is cumulative, it needs to be taken seriously.
Biofilm growing on the inside of lens cases is an invisible threat. Biofilm is a growing collection of free floating mirco-organisms that easily adhere to the inside of contact lens cases. This could include the super bug, Staphylococcus. In fact all biofilm build up can directly transfer and grow on contact lenses themselves. The other significant factor that this design addresses, is managing poor maintenance and hygiene regimes.
Material selection was critical in this design to ensure biofilm build up is controlled. The unique clean assist action of twisting the lid mimics the manual cleaning process. The convex dome allows the user to always pick up the lens the right way, which assist reducing discomfort. The case and the linked app, tracks lens age and daily wearing for optimized product use.
It is common practice for wearers to continue to wear lenses past their recommended use life. This increases the risk of infections and can lead to lens discomfort. The IBALL logs lens age using data from the reed switch to calculate days worn, notifying the wearer and automatically reordering the users specific lens type and brand.
Daily wear time tracking is monitored using the same miniaturized magnetic reed switch on the underside of the dome where the lens sits. The switch operates through proximity of a small magnet in the lid.
The switch will enable the system to flag when the lenses are removed and been in use for an unacceptable length of time. For example if the user has fallen asleep with their lenses in, their mobile device will notify them to remove their lenses, putting them back in the case before sleeping. The electronics will only be used to count the number of open and closes the user completes using low power components.
All components of the case that come in contact with the lens are either disposable or made from biofilm resistant material. Using new technology developed by the University of NSW to ensure superior protection against microbial biofilms. The rest of the case is made from selenium based polypropylene material ensuring minimal bacteria growth. The disposable components are the lid and the lens support plate these are considered consumable.
The biofilm resistant dome plate is positioned above the compressible honeycomb matrix. When the lid is closed and the honeycomb is compressed, the solution is displaced to completely submerge the lens.(Shown below- magnification of internal mechanism)
The current contact lens case has been around for decades with minimal progression. It appears to have been forgotten. The iBall design is a revolutionary approach to contact lens use and management.
Victoria is an aspiring Industrial Designer who cares deeply about helping people and is motivated by a challenge. She thrives in a team environment and enjoys the collaboration process. Victoria intends to further her studies in a medical discipline to gain a greater understanding of the health industry and use this to benefit her design background.