ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque startup is partnering directly with eye doctors to sell disposable contact lenses coated with a new moisturizing technology that adds comfort for users.
EveryDay Contacts, which launched in May, will manage direct online sales to consumers, but only after eye doctors partnering with the company prescribe the lens for patients.
That keeps doctors directly in the loop, ensuring proper care and follow up by eye professionals, said EveryDay CEO Lawrence Chavez.
“It’s a hybrid, direct-to-consumer business model that conserves direct involvement by doctors as resellers of the product,” Chavez said. “We’ll develop an online platform that offers all the customer-facing interaction that consumers expect for access and control of their subscriptions, but it must first be prescribed by a doctor to find the right fit for patients.”
The company says it has more than a dozen eye doctors on board, so far.
The company’s moisturizing technology was originally developed by another Albuquerque company, Lotus Leaf Coatings, which Chavez launched in 2010 after licensing a super hydro-resistant, or hydrophobic, coating technology jointly developed by the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories. Lotus Leaf initially marketed that as a surface protectant for things like textiles and metals, but the company discovered it can also manipulate the technology to create water-attracting, or hydrophilic, surfaces.
Vision-Ease Lens of Minnesota signed a distribution and licensing agreement in 2015 to incorporate that technology as a hydrophilic coating on eyeglasses for easy cleaning.
Now, Chavez is building EveryDay Contacts as a totally separate company to market its own hydrophilic, disposable lenses. The company employs five people at a 3,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque’s Broadbent Business Park, where it makes the coatings.
An independent manufacturer will produce the new lenses once EveryDay Contacts receives U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, which it expects early next year, Chavez said. Product launch is targeted for summer 2019.