BBC World Service announces birth of daily-disposables August 1992

The following interview of Ron Hamilton by Tracy Logan (BBC) was made at the BBC offices in London on 5 August 1992 and broadcast on BBC World Service.  Ron Hamilton went on to lead the development of the first daily disposable contact lens laboratory in the world and is the founder of the Daysoft Limited contact lens company based in Scotland.

Read the interview transcript……..

Hello. I’m Tracy Logan. Today we have a host of new ideas for you (including) contact lenses you wear for a day and then throw away (daily disposables). Here’s something contact lenses wearers like me have only dreamt of. Throw away those expensive contact lens cleaning solutions, in fact, throw away your expensive contact lenses at the end of the day because Ron Hamilton and his company have made (daily) disposable lenses. Now, you can already get lenses you wear for a week or two weeks and throw away but as Ron told me a novel manufacturing process means that these lenses are cheap enough to throw away after just one day’s wear.

Ron Hamilton. It’s a low cost manufacturing technique that has been developed using technology from the pharmaceutical industry applied to the contact lens industry. The result of this is that the lens is never handled during manufacture. We make two mould halves into which we pour liquid plastic which will eventually become the lens. These halves are offered together which form the lens into the shape, (then) cured … that turns the liquid state into a hard shape. The two moulds are then opened and saline, water with some salt in it, is put into the piece containing the hard lens which then expands gently as it takes up water … by about 40% and, at the end of that, you have a contact lens capable of being worn comfortably with high optical quality.

Tracy Logan, BBC. Now, let’s have a look at some of these lenses.

Ron Hamilton Yes.

Tracy Logan, BBC. They come in this little dish which reminds me of the individual proportion butter containers you see in the canteen. You just peel off the top of that and inside you can see some saline solution and this lens … which looks just like the ones I use. Now, apart from having advantage in terms of cheapness you have this mould which ends up being the container, part of which means that you contact lens has been untouched by human hand from actual manufacture to the shop where it sells.

Ron Hamilton. Until the person actually pulls off the foil lid and removes the lens, the lens has never been handled at all.

Tracy Logan, BBC. As a contact lens wearers myself I find it a bit of a bore at the end of the day having to take my lens out, which isn’t disposable like one of yours and clean it thoroughly and in a variety of solutions, which cost a lot of money. What advantages do you get apart from ease of use and not using all these solutions?

Ron Hamilton We of course completely side-step any risk of getting allergic reactions to the cleaning solutions and, about one in ten people who try contact lenses find that they are allergic to the cleaning systems.

Tracy Logan, BBC. Now, when are these going to be available and are they going to be available in parts of the world that have contact lenses.

Ron Hamilton. The prospects are that this system will be available in 1993. By virtue of the fact that no cleaning solutions are required these products can now be sold in those countries which have no cleaning solutions infrastructure. It’s vey expensive to ship cleaning solutions from country to country.

Tracy Logan, BBC. And it’s very expensive to buy them!

Ron Hamilton. … and very expensive to buy them when they get there … and to remember to clean them properly! By using a product that is truly disposable then, of course, you can introduce it to countries where cleaning solutions are not available.

Tracy Logan, BBC. And, with Ron Hamilton’s disposable lenses we end this edition of New Ideas. So, from me Tracy Logan, Production Assistant, Rebecca Atkins and our Producer Keith Gouch; goodbye.

Ron Hamilton went on to launch the world’s first daily disposable contact lens business which was bought by Bausch & Lomb in 1996.  Other dailies followed including tAcuvue by J&J and the Daily brand by CIBA.  He also founded Daysoft Limited, the first daily disposable contact lens to incorporate UV inhibitor.  Daysoft daily disposable contact lenses are sold around the world including using internet ordering.

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