Irish R&D Supports Bausch + Lomb’s $205 Million Investment in Waterford
Over 96% of the lens volume produced by Bausch + Lomb, the global eye care specialist, at its plant in Waterford has been developed by the facility’s in-house R&D Laboratory, pointed out Joe Dowling (pictured above), R&D Director, Bausch + Lomb, Waterford, at the recent 2018 Research & Innovation Conference & Exhibition held at Citywest in Dublin. His presentation was entitled ‘Bausch + Lomb Ireland – An R&D Case Study’.
Bausch + Lomb, which was established as an optics company but moved into contact lens manufacturing in the 1970s, established its plant at Waterford in 1980. Last year, a $175 million expansion was opened and a further $30 million is being invested in additional production lines. Half of production is exported to Asia, where Bausch + Lomb is the market leader in China for contact lenses. The expanded Waterford plant also supplies to the US and Europe.
The R&D Laboratory at Waterford was introduced in 1998 and currently employs 45 scientists, engineers and technicians. The Waterford laboratory was responsible for the development of the Biotrue ONEday range of daily disposable contact lenses. Indeed, the recent $205 million investment programme was to support the manufacturing of this highly successful product.
The development of the Biotrue ONEday range is a fine example of customer-focused R&D and innovation. Extensive research was carried out to see how the lens would be used by potential customers in their everyday lives. This revealed, for example, that the average user would spend 9 hours of their day looking at digital devices and 2.3 hours watching television. “When you are using digital devices, you are not blinking as often,” Joe Dowling explained. “This has an impact on the contact lenses we develop.”
Designed to deliver consistently clear vision and comfort for users throughout the day, the Biotrue ONEday lens range is inspired by nature. “We wanted to be as bio-compatible as possible,” he said. The lens material is 78% water – the same as the cornea in the human eye. Similarly, the lens also incorporates a unique dehydration barrier, which maintains 98% of its moisture for 16 hours a day. The shape of the new lens was also based on the functioning of the cornea. “It was inspired by the natural blinking pattern and how that interacts with your eyelids,” he said. “We studied how people actually blink – it is not just an up and down movement.”
Just as a customer-focused approach determined the design of the Biotrue ONEday, it is now used to measure the performance of the lens. “We do real life surveys to see if it meets customers’ needs,” he added. 95% of respondents agree that the Waterford-developed product delivers consistently clear vision.