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Award of Excellence speaker calls for faster progress

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San Diego-Desmond Fonn, OD, is this year’s recipient of the Dr. Donald R. Korb Award of Excellence. Dr. Fonn delivered his award lecture yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Optometric Association. The course, titled Contact Lens Induced End-of-Day Discomfort, essentially concluded that, in fact, end-of-day discomfort is still an enigma after all these years.

Dr. Fonn took attendees on a walk down memory lane of sorts, looking closely at the rate and causes for contact lens dropout 25 years ago vs. today. “There’s been so much improvement in the past 25 years,” said Dr. Fonn. Yet still, only 20% of the viable U.S. population wears contact lenses.

One 1993 study that Dr. Fonn referenced looked closely at the many reasons one might discontinue contact lens wear. Among them: discomfort, handling, dryness, red eye, vision and expense. Yet his more recent research, some 20 years later, concluded that it is these very same factors that are cited for dropout now-despite all the new technology and innovations in design and materials.

Dr. Fonn admitted he doesn’t have all the answers, but wondered if perhaps friction plays a bigger role that dehydration does. “What happens underneath the lens?” he asked. “What about the cytokines and how does that affect comfort, independent of what happens on the front of the lens?”

If you asked him 25 years ago if we could do away with end-of-day discomfort by the time he retired, he would have said yes. Now he’s not sure. “Progress is much too slow,” Dr. Fonn said.ODT

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