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Innovation

Driven by our purpose of helping people see brilliantly, we transform eye care possibilities into therapeutic realities through the discovery and development of innovative eye care products and treatments.

 

Sight Matters

We are dedicated to helping people see brilliantly by offering the widest array of eye care and eye health offerings with products that can treat the entire eye at each stage of life.

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Have Presbyopia1

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What Causes Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the gradual loss of the eye’s ability to actively focus on close objects. It occurs with the natural course of aging – generally starting around the age of 40 – and requires some form of vision correction to deal with its effect.

 

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People are Blind from Cataracts2

 

What Causes Cataracts

Most cataracts develop from advanced aging.3 As the body ages, the lens of the eye, which consists of water and protein, can become cloudy due to protein clumping together, scattering the light landing on the retina and causing visual impairment. When the cataract blocks light, vision is disrupted.4

 

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Have Uncorrected Refractive Errors2

 

The Burden of Uncorrected Refractive Errors

More than 12.8 million children globally, ages 5 to 15, are visually impaired due to uncorrected refractive errors as a result of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism – conditions which, with a simple eye exam, can be treated with contact lenses or surgical procedure.5

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Living with Dry Eye6

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What Causes Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are caused by a lack of sufficient moisture in the eyes because of an inadequate quality or quantity of tears.7 If the eyes are not lubricated enough, either by low quantity or poor quality of tears, it causes discomfort and leads to irritation.

Experience Our Range of Products

As the largest eye care devices company in the world, Alcon has a wide array of offerings within vision care and ophthalmic surgery. Explore each category for information about our range of products and other resources.

Contact Lenses & Solutions

Contact lenses are a way to get clear vision while having the freedom and flexibility to move in many environments. Find the right contact lenses and contact lens solution for your vision and lifestyle needs.

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Eye Care Products

Discover products for all aspects of vision care. From dry eyes to eye allergies, find relief or manage your eye health with our eye care products.

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Cataracts

Cataracts occur when protein accumulates in the lens of the eye, resulting in blurred or hazy vision. Cataracts are a common and natural part of aging, but there are many options for addressing cataracts, along with improved vision.

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LASIK

LASIK, or laser eye surgery, is a procedure to treat common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK can help to reduce their dependency on glasses or contact lenses, and in some cases eliminate their dependency entirely.

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Refractive Technology

Refractive Technology is used in corrective eye surgery of refractive errors like hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia. Find advanced tools and devices to meet the requirements of both your therapeutic procedures and your patients.

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Vitreoretinal Surgery

Vitreoretinal surgery restores, preserves and enhances vision for eye conditions affecting the retina, macula and vitreous fluid. Explore the most comprehensive portfolio of innovative ophthalmic surgical products to achieve optimal results.

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Alcon’s Phaco Development Program
5,000 Surgeons Trained and More Than 6 Million Eyes have Received Phacoemulsification as Option for Cataract Surgery
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At Alcon, our mission is to help every person see brilliantly. In designing world-class, digitally-enabled surgical technology and services, we aim to deliver access to care by leading innovation in all markets where we operate.

But addressing global eye care challenges comes down to more than just commercializing next-generation innovation. It’s also about ensuring ophthalmologists, surgeons and staff have the right training to confidently utilize those innovations.

A Milestone, a Mission

This is especially true in the treatment of cataracts, one of the top causes of visual impairment globally, according to the World Health Organization, contributing to moderate or severe vision impairment or blindness in more than 94 million people.

The International Association for the Prevention of Blindness estimates that one ophthalmologist could complete up to 2,000 cataract surgeries per year with the right infrastructure. The standard of care for treating cataracts is phacoemulsification (Phaco) surgery, yet not every patient has equitable access to this treatment technique. This is often due to a lack of national training standards, which results in varying surgical competencies or lack of high-quality outcomes-based programs focused on surgical skills and support. 

These are two of the reasons Alcon established its Phaco Development [PD] program in 2009. This program has a bold mission: to establish sustainable cataract and patient care services in underserved communities. The program starts with pre-course support and an intensive training program that combines theory and wet lab surgery experiences with artificial eyes, including guided hands-on surgical practice training in some markets. An experienced Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon leads this portion together with the Alcon Phaco Development Specialists, who assist participants with surgical equipment and techniques.

Alcon is proud to announce we’ve reached a significant milestone: 5,000 surgeons have been trained and more than 6 million eyes have received Phaco surgery for cataract treatment because of our Phaco Development Program.

Where Tech Meets Training

Phacoemulsification has been the standard for cataract treatment for more than 20 years. Throughout that time, Alcon has continued to innovate to bring new phacoemulsification technologies to market, including CENTURION® Vision System and Legion® System. We’ve also dedicated resources toward enhancing surgical capabilities through community training.

A recent study revealed significant success of our program in India. Leveraging our expertise in the ophthalmic surgical space, we help surgeons learn phacoemulsification techniques and provide a support system to ensure the correct implementation post-training.

“In certain markets, varying competencies lead to a lack of optimal outcomes that is otherwise available in many developed countries,” says Sreekanth Ravindran, International Director of Phaco Development at Alcon. “The PD program establishes sustainable cataract practices—helping surgeons adopt the latest techniques and technologies for advanced cataract procedures while strengthening the capabilities of their entire ophthalmic surgical teams.”

Upon graduation from the program, the Phaco Development Program team follows up with participants at their local practice, clinic or hospital. There, our team works alongside the ophthalmic staff to provide support that improves surgical confidence and allows participants to progress to more advanced levels of our program. During the pandemic, our team evolved our training to incorporate even more digital and virtual content, including online courses and serialized training workshops, to help instill continued confidence in the surgeons.

As we look toward the future—one where screen time is increasing, the population is aging and we’re approaching a shortage of ophthalmic surgeons—it’s imperative we address the cataract crisis from all angles. Every surgeon who participates in our Phaco Development Program represents the potential for thousands more people to see brilliantly.

25 Years of Refractive Surgery Innovation with WaveLight
Each year, millions of patients undergo refractive surgery – often referred to as laser vision correction. It’s a procedure in which an eye doctor uses a laser beam to reshape the surface of the eye, making it more effective at focusing light and ultimately leading to better vision.
Today, we celebrate a quarter of a century of helping people see brilliantly through many groundbreaking innovations by the Alcon subsidiary WaveLight® GmbH.
Since WaveLight’s founding in 1996, our research has focused on high-end laser systems and diagnostic solutions. In 2000, WaveLight introduced the world’s first 200 Hz excimer laser for refractive surgery. By 2003, WaveLight became the first European manufacturer to receive US FDA approval. These accomplishments, coupled with the ability to design a refractive laser system that combined precision, speed and quality, quickly established WaveLight as a global market and technology leader and a favorite among ophthalmologists. Today, the WaveLight portfolio includes the most modern excimer and femtosecond lasers, which are supplemented by a comprehensive range of surgical-diagnostic devices. All systems are connected by a specially developed computer network.
“Having performed more than 40,000 laser treatments with WaveLight lasers, I continue to be impressed by this technology,” says Dr. Arthur Cummings, one of the first users of the WaveLight devices and technology.
The WaveLight refractive portfolio focuses on the best possible visual outcomes for our patients and makes a decisive contribution to the development of new technologies worldwide. For example, our eye-tracking systems, which follow eye movements during the LASIK procedure to direct the laser pulses precisely to the right place, are a staple component of modern eye lasers.
We look forward to the next twenty-five years of continuous advancement and innovation and taking refractive surgery to the next level to help people see brilliantly!
© 2021 Alcon Inc. 4/21 GLB-WLO-2100001
 

 
30th Anniversary of the First Implantation of the AcrySof® IOL
December 14th 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the first implantation of the AcrySof® IOL. Dr. Richard Packard, based in the UK, was the first surgeon in the world to implant the lens.
To date, there have been more than 125 million implants of the AcrySof® lens making it the most implanted cataract replacement lens in the world for cataract patients.
Over the years, Alcon has continued to evolve the lens with upgrades and advancements, now offering the most comprehensive, best-in-class family of IOLs for cataract patients in the world.

Career Insights from two of Alcon’s Most Influential Women in the Optical Industry
Laura Walker, Vice President & Business Unit Head, U.S. Digital Innovation and
Stephanie Waugh, Vice President & Global Head, Ocular Health
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At Alcon, it’s our mission to help every person see brilliantly. That ethos is exemplified in two of our business' leaders, Stephanie Waugh, the newly appointed Regional Vice President of APAC Vision Care, and Laura Walker, Vice President & Business Unit Head of Digital Innovation, who were both recently named to Vision Monday’s Most Influential Women in Optical for 2021.

Stephanie received the accolade in the Executive Suite category for her passion for creating a more holistic and equitable eye care ecosystem for aging and emerging populations. Laura was honored in the Innovators category for her role as the driving force behind MARLO, a digital solution focused on keeping independent optometrists connected to their patients throughout the contact lens journey.

We caught up with Stephanie and Laura about their daily inspirations, career highlights and advice for other women in the optical industry.

How did you initially get interested in the optical field?

Stephanie Waugh (SW): Who wouldn’t fall for the art and science of eye care? Optical is unique because it has an incredible combination of people and purpose. Plus, my inner nerd loves all the physics, logic and artistry that’s required to create a nuanced diagnosis and treatment plan. I could ask questions about patient care and treatment options all day!

Laura Walker (LW): Stephanie, that’s a great answer.It’s similar to what inspired me, too.As a small child, my grandmother had cataract surgery, and it entirely changed her perspective on the world around her and of herself. The opportunity to make a difference in someone’s daily life and to positively impact their perception—as it did for my grandmother—led me to pursue a career in eye care.

Fast forward to today, what inspires you about your work?

SW: I’m most passionate about creating a more holistic and equitable eye care ecosystem for aging and emerging populations worldwide through innovative solutions, outreach programs and consumer education. I ensure we focus on patients and their ability to access the best eye care solutions for their condition. I want to keep raising the bar on product efficacy and clearly communicate the importance of great eye care! I’m really excited about joining the Asia Pac team and continuing to deliver great solutions for patients!

LW: For me, it’s also about building, leading and developing a cross-functional, customer-centric and highly diverse team that is fully committed to keeping the optometrists and their patients engaged throughout the eye care journey. In order to do this successfully, it’s been critical to tap into the diverse experience, skills and ideas from across my entire team. Their passion, ideas and commitment inspire me every single day.

What recent project or accomplishment are you most proud of?

SW: For me, one of my biggest career highlights at Alcon was the 2020 over-the-counter (OTC) switch of the Pataday brand right before the COVID-19 pandemic. My team cultivated the earliest idea of a switch, then navigated numerous obstacles to bring the Rx products to the OTC market, ensuring consumers could get relief without a prescription. The launch team grew to more than 150 members, and together we delivered a historical launch, beating the prior OTC switch record with just 17 days from FDA approval to store shelves.

LW: Similarly, we launched MARLO just prior to the pandemic. In March 2020, we quickly pivoted our product and engineering development efforts to provide additional functionality that would allow Eye Care Professionals to meet the needs of their contact lens patients even while their practices remained closed. Despite the long hours, new remote ways of working and the impact of the pandemic on our personal lives, the Alcon team quickly united behind doing everything possible to help Eye Care Professionals stay connected with patients in an unprecedented time.

Finally, do you have any advice for other women who developing careers in the optical industry?

LW: Listen closely to your customers—they will tell you what matters most. Those insights will unlock new opportunities. Then, ruthlessly prioritize the work, experiment to learn and embrace failure. By doing so, you and your team will grow personally and professionally while delighting your customers.

SW: I totally agree, Laura. I'd also add: Take your seat at the table. Maybe you'll get asked to come to the table, but most of the time, you have to take a seat yourself. Raise your hand, raise your voice and volunteer—so that your voice can be heard.

External Innovation Opportunities

Alcon Research Institute

Partnerships

The task of increasing quality eye care for the world’s underserved patients comes with many challenges. Many of the organizations and programs we fund are overcoming these challenges with novel approaches to problems. For example, through our support and partnership with SightLife, the Eye Donation Counselor program established in hospitals in India is enabling cornea transplant surgeries that might not have been possible otherwise.

References

  1. Global Prevalence of Presbyopia and Vision Impairment, 2018 Oct;125(10):1492-1499. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha
  2. World Health Organization (WHO), www.who.int/blindness
  3. American Academy of Ophthalmolgoy. What are Cataracts. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts [Accessed March 2019].
  4. Web MD. A Visual Guide to Cataracts. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/ss/slideshow-cataracts [Accessed March 2019].
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information, Global magnitude of visual impairment caused by uncorrected refractive errors in 2004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647357/[Accessed March 2019]
  6. Epi Database. Kantar Health. June 2015. Custom Dry Eye Self-Reported Prevalence ages 40+, 16 markets
  7. National Eye Institute. Facts About Dry Eye. https://nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye [Accessed March 2019].
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