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CooperVision brings a refreshing perspective on vision care across Asia

CooperVision is the third-largest soft contact lens supplier in the world and the second-largest in Asia-Pacific, with products sold in more than 100 countries

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 9:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 9:17am

Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports

Asia’s shifting demographics, rapid urbanisation and changing environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to the region’s rising demand for vision care. It is estimated that around 80 to 90 per cent of the young adult population in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Japan are affected by myopia, or near sightedness.

Studies also predict that nearly half of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050, and high-income countries in Asia are particularly at risk.

CooperVision – a unit of United States-based global medical device firm The Cooper Companies – is bringing its refreshing perspective on vision care across Asia. CooperVision offers an extensive range of spherical, toric and multifocal contact lenses to correct vision problems such as myopia, astigmatism, presbyopia, ocular dryness and other basic eye care needs.

Founded in 1980, CooperVision is the third-largest soft contact lens supplier in the world and the second-largest in Asia-Pacific, with products sold in more than 100 countries. Its primary brands include MyDay, clariti, Biofinity, Avaira Vitality, Proclear and Biomedics.

In Asia-Pacific, the contact lens specialist has direct operations in eight countries. Its regional hub is in Singapore, where it nurtures a partnership with the state’s Economic Development Board. The company’s biggest regional market is Japan, followed by China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. CooperVision also operates in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and has long-standing relationships with various local distribution partners.

The company works with customers through a partnership-based, consultative approach. Its key partners in the region are eye care practitioners, specialised contact lens chains, retail and individual vision care product outlets.

“We pride ourselves as being the supplier of choice to customers, not just in the service levels, but also in terms of customising and tailoring our marketing efforts,” says Ed Northup, CooperVision president in Asia-Pacific.

“We help customers create a strong brand identity through to their product portfolio based on their needs and priorities, including attracting new patients to their stores. We are the only contact lens manufacturer offering a full suite of products that customers can brand themselves.”

For customers with online ordering and patient online communication platforms, CooperVision adds value by helping clients drive more online traffic and establish a positive online presence.

“Historically, as in any brick-and-mortar business, consumers’ journeys start when they step into an optical outlet. Nowadays, even for the optical industry, the journey starts before that,” Northup says. “We aim to support our customers by creating more contact lens awareness and educating potential patients to drive them to our customers’ stores.

We provide contact lens trials, including attractive starter kits containing the basic essentials that new wearers would need. This enables customers to increase new patient acquisitions and ultimately generate more contact lens sales, including other optical products at retail.”

Controlling myopia with MiSight

In East and Southeast Asia, the number of school-aged children with myopia continues to rise. Aside from genetic predisposition, lifestyle changes and visual habits contribute to this growing eye epidemic. Myopia puts children at risk of developing ocular problems, which could lead to more serious complications in the future.

Thriving on innovation, CooperVision stays at the forefront of scientific and technological breakthroughs in the ocular industry. It works closely with the scientific community to support its clinical studies.

As part of its Myopia Management System – its holistic approach to minimising myopic progression – CooperVision developed MiSight, the first dual-focus daily disposable contact lens proven to slow the progression of myopia in children. MiSight incorporates ActivControl technology to slow the progression of myopia.

Based on three-year findings of CooperVision’s long-term clinical evaluation of MiSight, the specialised lens slows myopia progression by up to 59 per cent in children aged 8 to 12 years.

“MiSight was well accepted by children, as it did not interfere with their daily activities such as schoolwork, reading, outdoor play, sporting activities or computer use,” says Jo-Ann Choo, vice-president for marketing in Asia-Pacific.

Raising the bar for contact lenses with revolutionary technologies

When silicone was first combined with hydrogel lenses, it increased the lenses’ ability to transmit oxygen, which was essential for corneal health. However, using more silicone materials compromised the lenses’ softness and moisture in exchange for higher oxygen transmission.

MyDay – CooperVision’s softest 1-day silicone hydrogel lens with built-in ultraviolet protection – takes silicone hydrogel materials one step further. It incorporates Smart Silicone chemistry, which creates a unique network of silicone channels that transmit oxygen to the cornea with higher efficiency. By using far less silicone than traditional silicone hydrogel lens, MyDay creates more room for water-rich hydrophilic materials to boost water content for softer, moister lens.

“MyDay creates a great balance of lens properties, as it provides 100 per cent of the oxygen the eyes need. Its smooth lens surface and rounded edge design gives wearers improved comfort throughout the day,” Choo says.

For daily wear patients, clariti 1 day meets almost every vision condition. Available in sphere, toric and multifocal designs, clariti 1 day provides ultraviolet protection with excellent oxygen transmissibility and a highly lubricious, wettable surface without the higher price point. It is the world’s first one-day silicone hydrogel contact lens for presbyopia and has a wide power range of 1-day toric lenses for astigmatism. clariti 1 day features WetLoc technology, which attracts and binds water molecules to the lens surface.

For contact lens wearers with dry eye symptoms, Proclear delivers excellent vision correction from any distance in daily, bi-weekly and monthly modalities. As the only contact lens material with a cleared dry eye indication from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Proclear contact lens material may provide improved comfort for wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms relating to dryness during lens wear. It uses CooperVision’s PC Technology, which mimics phosphorylcholine, a hydrophilic compound naturally found in the cells of the human body including the eyes.

PC Technology enables lenses to attract and bind water to its surface to keep them resistant to deposit and dehydration. Proclear retains 96 per cent of its water content even after 12 hours of wear.

Last year, CooperVision enhanced its range of Avaira contact lens with the release of Avaira Vitality. The enhanced Avaira Vitality has a higher water content and Class 1 UV protection. Avaira Vitality is CooperVision’s naturally wettable silicone hydrogel contact lens brand with polyethylene glycol, which attracts and binds water within the lens material without needing additional coatings, internal wetting agents or surface treatments.

The company’s Biofinity brand has the widest range of sphere parameters in the monthly sphere silicone hydrogel category. Biofinity is suitable for patients looking for lens that can be worn daily or for up to seven days in a row. Its lens design features aspheric optics and a softer, rounded edge for better fit and extended comfort.

Developing contact lenses for the digital age

From the start of the day until late in the evening, millions of people use digital devices and spend long hours interacting with screens. This results in digital eye strain, a temporary discomfort due to extended use of electronic devices.

Responding to the demands of today’s digital lifestyle, CooperVision developed Biofinity Energys that eases screen fatigue – a first-of-its-kind innovation. Designed for monthly replacement, Biofinity Energys features Digital Zone Optics lens design, which integrates multiple front-surface aspheric curves. This stimulates positive power in the centre of the lens to help reduce strain on the eyes, enabling wearers to shift their focus from on-screen to off-screen and back with less effort. Biofinity Energys adapts Aquaform Technology for natural wettability.

“Through Biofinity Energys, patients who have gotten used to the digital lifestyle no longer have to accept eye fatigue and dryness as ‘normal’ when they wear contact lenses,” Choo says. “Biofinity Energys fits into the lifestyle of today’s digital device users.”

Giving back to the community

As part of its commitment to give back to the community, particularly in places where attaining good eye care is considered a luxury, CooperVision is a proud partner of Optometry Giving Sight, a global fundraising initiative that targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision to people who lack access to eye health services.

Upholding its corporate social responsibility, CooperVision renewed its commitment as a global gold sponsor of Optometry Giving Sight for another three years effective January this year.

Aside from providing funding, CooperVision supports other programmes by sending experts on site for professional guidance and observation. CooperVision also partly funded another initiative to help introduce an optometry course in Vietnam.

Growth strategies in the region

To continue providing superior customer experience, CooperVision aims to grow its workforce by attracting talents with diverse expertise. It also seeks to upgrade its sales team capabilities to better understand individual market needs and establish close relationships with local customers.

“Having a friendly workplace and being passionate about our jobs promotes the energy that we put into our business, and we want customers to experience us in the same positive light,” Northup says.

In Asia, CooperVision aims to tap into the emerging markets of Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. It seeks partnerships with academic institutions in the region to raise awareness about the benefits of contact lenses by offering modules and seminars on technical and practice management. The company is open to working with key opinion leaders in the industry to strengthen its branding in Asia.

“Vision is such a precious gift in life, and we strive to help improve the way people see each day,” Northup says.