Author: Ester Alonso

Interview of the Month
January 10, 2018

The Italian contact lens innovators

"I've been with Safilens since it was just a good idea between friends", says Alessandro Filippo, one of the founders of the Italian Contact Lens (CL) company.  His career goes back to the origins of this business or at least the origins of its mass development: he has been designing and manufacturing (and selling) contact lenses for over 40 years both as consultant to “major” companies in this sector, and with his own companies as well. His work has been related to the development of new products: in terms of innovations in materials and design. Today, as in the past 17 years, Filippo is in charge of R&D, a subject that continues to fascinate him.

"I've been with Safilens since it was just a good idea between friends", says Alessandro Filippo, one of the founders of the Italian Contact Lens (CL) company.  

Q: Describe the CL market in Europe in 2017?

A: We are in a temporary state of equilibrium due to several factors such as the economic climate of the past 4-5 years or the delay of the big players in realizing that the drop-outs and new fittings would stay the same unless something new was introduced into the market. There are excellent products available, but we must establish a tighter relationship between ECPs, Ophthalmologists and Manufacturers. The drop-outs of prescribers are significant and the fruitful job of several R&D departments is still unknown by too many of those who address the wearer directly.

Q: Has the crisis of recent years affected the business?

A: Besides the figures that might or might not represent success, the biggest issue is found in the habits of the wearers that, too often, have chosen to adopt “casual” behaviours when it comes to CL wearing. We are dealing with medical devices the use of which must be accompanied by careful attention and compliance for the sake of health. The situation is getting back to normal regarding the economy, in some areas at least and we now have to get back the trust, the diligence and the care of wearers.

Q: How would you summarize Safilens in 2017?

A: 2017 has been a very good year for Safilens, characterized by significant growth both at home and in all our key international markets, thanks to the new products in the portfolio and the new exclusive distribution agreements in several countries.

Q: How has "fusion 1day astigma daily lens" been received?

A: So far, we have had a very positive response. We wanted to bring to the astigmatism segment a product that would be in line with the quality and performance of fusion 1day spherical and fusion 1day presbyo. It is still too early to properly evaluate commercial results but the feedback, both from opticians and wearers, is more than promising and it seems we started off on the right foot. 

Q: What's new for 2018? Will there be a new release at Opti?

A: At Opti 2018 we will present fusion 1day vista, a daily disposable contact lens for asthenopia. After fusion 1day (spherical), fusion 1day presbyo (for presbyopia) and fusion 1day astigma (for astigmatism), Safilens will be the world’s first company to have a daily disposable for asthenopia: this will make the fusion DD family the only one with four declinations covering each one of these vision related problems.

Q: How will  “fusion 1day vista” be rolled out? 

A: After the launch at Opti, the product will be available in the German speaking markets and in Italy; following this the product will launch in the other countries, as we did for fusion 1day astigma. The presentation will be supported by lectures or workshops about eyestrain related to video/screen usage. The first presentations will be held at Opti and at the GLS Symposium (Las Vegas).

Q: In what position do you expect Safilens to be in by the year 2020?

A: Being one of the founders of Safilens, I can only wish for further excellence. From a more objective point of view, I wish that Safilens will receive the recognition it deserves for what it has brought to the CL market and for what is still in the pipeline.

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