From £50 to 15 pence a lens

How I changed the contact lens market … twice.  It’s hard to believe that, some 20 years ago, a soft contact lens cost £50 (Which? report September 1991) and had to be cleaned each day.  Many people took out special insurance to cover the cost of the loss or breakage of a lens and the plumber was often called if one was lost down the sink!   Football and rugby matches were sometimes disrupted while a player searched for a dislodged lens.  All that changed with my launch of the world’s first daily-disposable in 1993.  This cut the retail cost from £50 to 50 pence a lens.   Then in 2006 we cut this to 15 pence delivered to your home or office following my launch of the world’s first internet based direct-to-wearer-from-laboratory supply (April 2006) using   Over 400 million daysoft lenses have been sold via the internet and we ship 2,000 Orders each day to contact lens wearers around the world, all designed and produced in our modern laboratory in Scotland.  Yes, all made in Great Britain.  We also supply European Optical Multiples and some UK independent Opticians, so we have great cross-referencing of product acceptance between ‘traditional’ sales to our internet sales.

The story.   On 5th August 1992 I was invited to the London offices of the BBC. The full BBC interview is on this link They wanted to interview me on why I was claiming that I could cut the cost of a soft contact lens by 99%. At that time two soft contact lenses cost £50 each and required daily cleaning … an expensive, time-consuming and largely ineffective process suffered by all soft contact lens wearers. I was claiming that two lenses of at least similar quality could retail for 50 pence each and would require no cleaning solutions because, at that price, it was more hygienic and as cost effective to ‘wear for a day’ then throw them away. We had, I stated, invented daily-disposable contact lenses and we wanted to scale up to produce 10s of millions of these new lenses a year. I was very apprehensive about making this global proclamation on the BBC because, at that time, the process I and my business partner, Bill Seden, had developed and patented was still just a small-scale process operating in my back garden in Hampshire, England where the pictures(right) were taken. We had installed a moulding machine in my back-garden ‘annex’ and the picture was on my 50th birthday with Bill, his wife Marilyn and my wife Moya. A Garden Laboratory Garden Lab Moulsing mc 1700x2338.If we had got the technology wrong or my costings were inaccurate I was going to look a bit stupid. Many people in the industry were hoping we would fail; especially those making cleaning solutions! However, the interview sparked interest and before long I had secured support and interest from Professor Nathan Efron of UMIST and the BOOTS Opticians chain. With those endorsements we were able to raise some modest venture capital funding and with Regional Development Funding Award we had just enough to start our full-scale AWARD factory situated in Scotland.Garden Lab 1993 1700x2338

AWARD PackSo, in September 1993 the world’s first daily disposable lens was ready for volume sales via BOOTS and around the world. We called the company AWARD and the lens, rather pretentiously, ‘Premier’. Bill and I had left highly paid jobs and invested in a technology no other company thought possible. We had relocated family some 400 miles north and worked 24 hours a day for years. When, in early 1996 Bausch and Lomb, the world’s biggest eye care company, having failed to develop a suitable process technology themselves, asked for distribution rights we said “why not buy the company instead”. . . and they did, in February 1996. B&L went on to build a workforce of over 1,200 in Scotland but then rather unceremoniously move it all to Ireland. Billions of daily-disposable contact lenses using the process technology developed in my back garden have been sold. Bill and I went our separate ways being financially independent and promising not to compete with B&L for 5 years! But then I heard about something called the Internet.

The world’s first (and only) Internet based contact lens manufacturer

In 1998 Moya and I visited the US to learn more about this ‘new-thing’ called the internet!. Here was a new technology which I reckoned could cut the cost of lens supply, just as we had cut the cost of manufacture. Scan-002.BMPSo we took a 15 year lease on a new, empty, building (picture right) and set about building a new technical team, developing a new process technology and designing a new lens.  It was 5 year to the day, on the expiry of my non-compete,  daysoft was launched. Our first lens cost us £2 million!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOur goal was to supply daily-disposables at half the cost of any other, that is, to cut the cost for a lens from 50 pence to under 20 pence delivered anywhere in the word.Today our laboratory employs over 200 and sells millions of lenses every month and 2,000 Orders each day. If you are one of our many customers I would like to thank you for your support and for helping us make another dream come true.

50 thoughts on “From £50 to 15 pence a lens

  1. Nadia

    Thank you very much for making such a great product. It has been a life savior. However -12.5 is not enough for me. Are you planning to make -13 or even stronger lenses?

    1. Dear Nadia, Thank you very much for your comments, always appreciated. The manufacturing team is very busy with a new process (INPAC Technology) and will not thank me for adding a new Power right now. However, I will, when the dust settles review our range a see if we can add -13.00. Sorry I cannot be more helpful. Kind regards Ron

      1. Daysoft Customer

        I had always thought you already used the blister pack as 1/2 of the mold, until I saw your Daysoft manufacturing video. Awesome that this is now a reality. Brilliant feat of engineering.

        Many Thanks,
        8 years customer

      2. Thank you again. We design our own lenses and the machines used then build them ourselves. No one does it better. Our injection-moulding is cutting edge and our engineering team is world-class …. just don’t tell them I said that !! Kind regards Ron

      3. Colin Groves

        I am a UK veteran and ex-pat living in Italy. I have used Daysoft lenses in the past. I have a
        cataract in my left eye and am due an operation in October 2019. Until then I need to source
        some hi power lenses to improve my daily life, around -13.50 contact lens equivalent to -16.00 spectacle. I have been trying to order them direct through communication with Daysoft customer services but have been told this strength is only available through UK opticians. Having read your response to Nadia’s comment (she wanted -13.00 or stronger) I am not sure what to make of the customer services advice I have been provided. Irrespective of my situation please keep up the good work in providing a fantastic service worldwide.

  2. Dear Dr Hamilton, your story and the business you have developed is very impressive. In recognition of that, we have decided to include Daysoft as one of our “Companies to Watch” in 2019. You can see the full list here: We wish you and your team continued success – Jack

  3. Janice M Sanders

    Mr Hamilton. I am very amazed and so pleased with your story of how you came with such an awesome idea of disposable contact lenses. I too came up with a similar idea in the early eighties, I even wrote out the complete idea and manufacturing information and gave this report to my then employer, Wesley-Jessen, William (Bill) Hancock was my manager. I applaud you for your investment in the contact industry. Many lives have been improved. Greatness deserves recognition.

    1. Dear Janice, Many thanks for your kind comments. The fundamental block many established contact lens companies had, in even attempting to venture into daily-disposables, was the profits being made in selling cleaning solutions! The idea of a CL product that didn’t need cleaning was heresy. I was even informed that ‘people like cleaning their lenses’. I had ultimately to resign from CooperVision as VP of Global Operations, to break the dead-lock by going it ‘alone’ …. jut my business partner Bill Seden and our families. I guess you encountered much the same at WJ? Serious attempt by one of the ‘big-players’ to steal our patents showed how scared they were that we might actually succeed. I am glad that we did prevail and emails such as your is great … Thank you and Kind regards Ron

  4. Mina

    Hi Ron
    I’ve been a happy customer for close to 10 years.
    I recommended Daysoft when my husband decided to try contact lenses for the very first time recently;
    It looks like you’ve got another fan- he’s just placed his 3rd order!
    Thank you for making daily disposable so affordable and accessible.
    Thanks for world-wide delivery as well, it really helps as I now live in New Zealand!

    1. Dear Mina
      Many thanks for your feedback. It is always reassuring to receive email messages such as yours however long I have been in the daily disposable contact lens business. My thanks also to your husband. When I launched daysoft-direct in 2006 my ‘vision’ was to receive orders from anywhere around the world so it is great to receive your communication from New Zealand. We now ship into over 90 countries straight from the end of our production lines giving us low-cost and a ‘Green-Footprint(R)’. I trust that you and your family have a lovely Christmas and a happy 2019. Kind regards
      Ron and the Daysoft Team.

  5. Bryan Smyth

    Hi Ron I’ve been using your products for years and I admire and salute you . Here’s an idea some time ago you changed your colour on the lenses package foil from silver to blue. During the crossover my left lenses were blue and the right silver which I thought was a company decision to save the customer trying to see which lense was which as sometimes telling the difference between 2.75 and 2.50 is impossible but not if you know blue forget silver for right . Do you think it’s a good idea ? Best wishes from Dublin Bryan Smyth

    1. Dear Bryan, Many thanks for your kind comments and for being a good customer. Colour coding by Power would be useful as you point out but it would increase stock holding very significantly because some wearers wear, say, -2.00 in their left eye but others in the Right and some in both. Roughly 50% people have the same power in both eyes. We used black on silver but it was black ink which is very messy and none too precise. Going Blue allowed us to use laser marking and to have a ‘cleaner’ outline of the print. I hope this explanation is helpful and apologise for any confusion during the change. Again, many thanks for contacting me and for your suggestion. Kind regards Ron

  6. Nick Whitehead

    Hello Ron,

    Being short-sighted I use your lenses periodically for cycling. They have been great and have just ordered 1 months worth for my wife to try.

    A great history on how you started out. It’s nice to see a business do so well from the ground up yet still offer exceptional value and quality (a rarity these days!).

    Long may you reign!

    All the best,

    1. Dear Nick, Many thanks for your comments, for being a customer and for introducing your wife to daysoft(R) lenses. I am very fortunate in having a great team and the support of family, especially during the inevitable times when things do not go according to Plan. The greatest satisfaction comes from employing people, especially as a manufacturing company creating a product we sell into over 90 countries. Being an engineer helps!! Kind regards Ron

  7. Just wondered if the plastic used in your manufacturing process is recyclable or if you have plans to use an alternative material at all? You use far less plastic than other contact lens suppliers anyway, but I simply wondered what your views are on this?

    1. Dear Nikki, All the product materials used by us are recyclable. We do indeed use less plastic than other manufacturers and have plans to further greatly reduce our usage which we believe is the correct thing to do rather than relying on recycling. Thank you for contacting me and being a daysoft(R) customer. Kind regards Ron

  8. Dear Ron,
    Thank you for letting us see your various blog and e-mails. MOST encouraging for you dear.
    Well done to you and all at Daysoft. We still have wonderful memories of seeing over your amazing factory. It’s amazing how much you have all accomplished over those years. God had been very good to you and enabled you to use your gifting and skills to a wonderful degree. PTL.
    Lots of love, John and June XX

    1. Dear John and June, Thank you for your comments. We too remember your visit to Daysoft … helped by your photograph in Daysoft hat and overall.
      Yes, God has been good to us over many years as my Blog reflects. See you Sunday. Kind regards Ron

  9. Jacqueline Fulton

    After enjoying your Daysoft Silk for years. I found out I have a slight astigmatism & was fitted for Toric lenses. My optometrist said I could still wear regular lenses so he gave me a prescription for the “Spherical Equivalent” lenses. I’m so happy I will be ordering them in the Daysoft Silk asap! Thank you for such great products and service.

  10. Bridget

    Great story Ron. I’ve been wearing contact lenses for years since the days of David Clulow who made the first affordable hard lenses in London. Then I shifted to monthly soft and then found your Co a few years back. I have been very happy with them and so happy to be wearing dailies. Now got my husband onto them as well. I hadn’t realised that you deliver all over the world and have just ordered a years supply as we are going travelling to Europe in our Motorhome for year! Thank you, great product.

    1. Dear Bridget, Thank you for your email and comments. Things have moved on a lot since the days of hard-lenses and I am glad to have been part of that evolution. I hope you have a wonderful year touring Europe. It sounds like a real adventure. I hope you can stay ‘connected’ and enjoy you daysoft lenses. Kind regards Ron

  11. I have noticed you don’t monetize your site, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn additional cash every month because you’ve got
    high quality content.

    1. Dear Valeria, Thank you very much for your email re my BLOG. To be honest I am happy just to ‘tell my story” and trust that readers find it interesting. I enjoy my work and emails like yours are reward enough for me. Maybe one day I will write it up more ‘formally’. Maybe a book? Kind regards

  12. Grace

    Thank you so much! I live in the United States and if it we’re not for you, I would still be worried about how to afford the lenses I need. This is my first day wearing them and I would recommend these lenses to anyone.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. Dear Grace, And out thanks to you for being a customer of Daysoft. All our lenses are designed and manufactured by us at our base in Scotland and we sell direct into wearers in over 90 countries. I hope you continue to like our lenses and I thank you for taking the time to contact me. Kind regards Ron

  13. Victoria Wrapson

    I am wearing my first pair of Daysoft lenses and they are the same high quality as the leading brand I have been paying over four times the price via my high street optician. Not only am I saving money but there is less waste in the packaging and they are a Scottish company which is just fantastic. Great to see some strong competition, I will recommend wherever I can. Thank you so much.
    Vicki W

    1. Dear Victoria, Thank you. It is always a pleasure to get feedback such as your. Daysoft is an entirely British based and owned business. All our lenses are designed and made in Great Britain, in Scotland, to be more precise, and we sell into over 90 countries. We specialise in low-cost, high-productivity, low-material usage and ship direct from the end of our efficient production lines with no intermediate handling (other than the post-man). Again, thank you for taking the time to write to me. Kind regards Ron

  14. Katy Williams

    I’ve placed my first order and I’m so excited to try Daysoft! I’m from the US, I’m an animal advocate, and I came across your company while searching for cruelty-free contact lenses. I was expecting them to be more expensive, but I was pleasantly surprised! I love this story also!

    1. Dear Kate, Many thanks for writing. I do hope you like our lenses. It’s always good to get feedback and to hear that someone liked our ‘story’ about the development of the company. All our lenses are made in Scotland and we now export to over 90 countries. Have a good day … getting dark here now and a bit ‘nippy’ (cold). Kind regards Ron

  15. I have just placed my very first order with you at the grand old age of 68. I can’t wait to receive my lenses to try. I currently get them from my optician at double the cost. Thanks Sue.

  16. John

    I would like to make a personal thanks to you, Ron. I’m currently a first year undergraduate studying Biomedical Engineering and your philosophy to innovation is a real inspiration.

    As a student, money is tight and whilst I am financially responsible and independent, I simply could not afford to wear contact lenses if it wasn’t for your commitment to making biotechnology affordable for everyone. Wearing lenses makes life easier in every way, whether it’s a confidence boost whilst socialising or not having to struggle whilst wearing safety specs in the lab.

    I hope daysoft continues to grow and stick to the foundations it was built upon, I’ll continue to be a loyal customer regardless.

    1. Dear John, Many thanks for your feedback which is much appreciated. It is especially heartening to both make and supply lenses made in the UK where manufacturing needs to re-gain prominence in our economy.
      Kind regards Ron

  17. Becka Cunningham

    THANK YOU so much for creating daysoft lenses! I love them and will never buy from elsewhere. The website is user friendly and the order process is straight forward. Best of all the lenses are excellent quality and so affordable! Whenever I’ve had contact with the daysoft team they have been very helpful. I am one loyal customer for life! 🙂

  18. Ds

    Fantastic product and excellent service. Really happy with my experience of your company so far. Thanks for providing such a great service which has saved me a lot of money on otherwise costly lenses.

  19. venu

    I am really glad that you took the initiative to go online, as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford daily disposable soft lenses in India (market cost ~ 15x of daysoft!!). I wear soft lenses to cushion the abrasive effect of RGP lenses to correct astigmatism and I was in shock to find that a months supply costs about 15000 INR, and was thinking of just cutting down on wearing time as an alternative, when by chance I found daysoft on the net. Now at ~1000 inr per month, I have a comfortable fit and am able to enjoy my life after work without losing visual acuity.
    Thanks to your innovative spirit.

    1. Dear Venu, I was really pleased to receive your feedback. Coming from India it demonstrates just how the internet has ‘shrunk’ communication and makes E-Commerce a very cost-effective way of doing business. Kind regards Ron

  20. Anna

    If I hadn’t have found Daysoft contact lenses, being a student I would have been unable to afford to keep wearing lenses at £30 from my opticians. I’m very happy to have found both affordable and comfortable contact lenses ( more so than the expensive brands!) My family wear them too as they are so cheap. Such an inspirational story, thank you for creating Daysoft!

    1. Dear Anna, Thank you for responding in this way. It makes getting-up in the morning really-really worth-while. I enjoy my work but get a little extra ‘kick’ when I get feedback like yours. Thank you. Ron

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