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icon Polymer Chemistry in Vision Care

Alcon’s Vision Care business has built a reputation for being the leader in innovative polymer chemistry for contact lenses. This competency has led to meaningful innovations that improve the handling, use, and comfort of contact lenses. DAILIES TOTAL1 is the only lens with true water gradient technology that contains 100% water at the surface of the lens. This feature enables a level of comfort and visual acuity that feels like nothing at all is on the eye. This unique lens structure increases water content, so all that touches the patient’s eye is a cushion of moisture. In addition, Alcon has created SMARTEARS technology to intuitively release natural ingredients that stabilize the tear film to prevent tear evaporation.

Building off of this scientific base, in 2019 Alcon launched a mass market SiHy daily disposable contact lens called PRECISION1. Founded on the same principles of polymer chemistry as DAILIES TOTAL1, PRECISION1 meets the needs of a young, active population that expects their lenses to keep up with their lifestyle.

Our expertise in polymer chemistry has paved the way for the most innovative contact lens technology in Alcon’s history. This technology provides the foundation to deliver unique product solutions that meet a number of known clinical and patient needs.


icon Active Sentry Handpiece

The management of fluids during a cataract procedure is essential to a safe and effective removal of the cataract lens. Through ultrasonic technology, a dense cataract can be emulsified. During this process, a significant amount of heat is generated, and saline fluids are used to cool, flush, and stabilize the closed anterior chamber of the eye. In this closed, soft tissue environment, fluid management becomes the essential factor to the success of the surgical procedure.

Over Alcon’s rich history in cataract surgery, our engineers have mastered the balance between inflow and outflow of this closed system. The recently introduced ACTIVE SENTRY handpiece, an enhancement to the CENTURION Vision System, integrates a miniature pressure sensor within the handpiece. This sensor continuously monitors pressure at the surgery site, allowing for almost instantaneous detection of vacuum breaks or fluid surges. Sophisticated software algorithms enable the system to rapidly employ countermeasures to minimize resulting movement within the eye. This innovative, first-to-market technology provides an added measure of confidence and consistency for the surgeon and safety for the patient.

icon Quality Evolution

Continuous improvement is critical to a robust quality management system. Alcon has coined the term Quality Evolution to highlight the importance of having a culture of quality — starting with why we are performing quality activities, knowing that what we do creates safe, effective, and reliable products, and improving upon how we deliver quality.

Quality Evolution is about thoughtful simplification. Through continuous improvement in quality, we increase our focus on activities that create the most value and reduce the need for reactive measures. As we move forward on our Quality Evolution journey, our initiatives allow us to focus on providing high quality products in a compliant manner.

  • Global Subject Matter Experts Infrastructure: A community of cross-functional expertise that owns processes associated with various quality systems elements. The community leverages its relevant experience and continuous improvement techniques to keep the procedures concise and current.
  • Alcon Quality Analytics: Our global metrics dashboard automates our data collection under a single system.
  • Quality Health Summaries (QHS): Once potential trends in quality issues are identified, we address them aggressively until the trends start to recover in a positive direction. By raising their visibility, we focus on solving the real issues and make sure we address each one correctly the first time.
icon Bridging the Access Gap

Phacoemulsification (phaco) is the preferred standard of care in cataract surgery. However, in low- to middle-income countries, access to this technology is affected by the lack of training and limited purchasing power.

To increase access to phaco, Alcon provides skills development through our Phaco Development (PD) Program, where a dedicated team of 200+ phaco development specialists supports surgeon training in Russia, China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal. Since the inception of the PD program, we enrolled more than 4,000 doctors in our ongoing core and advanced PD programs. These doctors have performed approximately five million phaco procedures over the lifetime of the program.

The program has now expanded to build capabilities in additional critical ophthalmic disease areas, including vitreoretinal surgery, glaucoma, astigmatism, and presbyopia management. The program’s goal is to build a foundation for a higher standard of care in ophthalmology, making eye care accessible to more people.

In addition to skills training, Alcon also develops products to address the specific needs of certain developing markets. In 2019, Alcon introduced the LEGION system to help fill the gap in access to phacoemulsification surgery. This affordable system brings some of the advanced features of the CENTURION system, combined with greater serviceability, durability, and portability to developing markets. LEGION’s breakthrough design rivals the surgical performance of premium machines at a lower per use cost, and it has opened the door to new cataract markets around the world. First launched in India, LEGION has received significant enthusiasm among surgeons.

By recognizing global population health dynamics and applying thoughtful innovation, Alcon can serve a broader range of patients in countries where costs inhibit access to quality eye care.

Bridging the Access

icon 40th Anniversary with Orbis

Orbis, an NGO dedicated to saving sight worldwide by training eye care professionals in low- and middle-income countries, is a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness. Through its Flying Eye Hospital, award winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight, and long-term country programs, Orbis and its volunteers and partners help establish and strengthen sustainable eye care in communities around the world. For 40 years, Alcon has been donating ophthalmic equipment, pharmaceuticals, and supplies for Orbis global programs. Biomedical engineers and technicians from Alcon have also shared their technical skills and knowledge to help Orbis partners operate and maintain equipment and strengthen local eye care infrastructure. The Alcon Foundation has sponsored Orbis training programs in China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Panama, Peru, and Vietnam.

Anniversary with Orbis

icon AutonoMe Packaging Volume Reduction

Sustainability was a guiding principle in the design of our next-generation IOL delivery system. AUTONOME provides the reliable, controlled insertion of the IOL into the capsular bag. This device arrives fully assembled with the IOL positioned within the lens bay, thus eliminating the need for separate packaging. The new design reduces the use of single-use plastics in surgical facilities and hospitals.

  • 37.5% reduction in packaging surface area compared with old generation, ULTRASERT
  • 4.6g reduction in total product primary packaging weight compared with old generation, ULTRASERT
  • 16.9% reduction in total landfill waste and 4.9% reduction in landfill and biohazard waste compared with ULTRASERT
  • Eliminating overwrap makes it easier for staff to use the device
icon Circularity in Practice

Our Georgia (US) site introduced a methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) decanting process to separate and recover excess water from MEK waste. This process, also used at our location in Germany, reduces water content in MEK waste from 30-50% to less than 15%, and decreases the MEK waste sent to a third-party vendor by approximately 20%. The reuse of these materials reduced raw material consumption by 200 tons, and has the potential to generate ~$1.0 million of savings per year.

With our effort to promote materials recycling, approximately 99% of hazardous waste, mainly solvents, is recycled and reused in our production of contact lens products.

Circularity in  Practice

icon Inclusive Design

In the last decade, the number of female ophthalmologists as a percentage of all surgeons has steadily grown. Historically, product designs have unconsciously catered to men, resulting in unintentional ergonomic disadvantages for women. To address that bias, Alcon is changing our product design approach to be more inclusive of women.

Physical differences in height and hand size, in addition to the potential for repetitive injury, have influenced the design of our new surgical products. Through insights provided by our Women Innovating Now (WIN) ERG, we now consider physical height and hand size in our product design. The first products to be impacted by this research are our surgical visualization system and hand-activated forceps.

Within visualization systems, innovations such as the ORA Wavefront Aberrometry and iOCT attach to the analogue microscope stack, resulting in an increased height of the microscope’s oculars. In extreme cases, this could potentially contribute to the rise of repetitive-use injuries to the cervical spine. With Alcon’s NGENUITY system, a 3D camera replaces the microscope’s oculars, allowing the surgeon to operate with a heads-up view of an OLED display, eliminating potential strain and back injury. This design change eliminates the impact of stack height, resulting in a more ergonomically sound environment.

Through this research, we also recognized that physical differences in users’ hand sizes required improvements to our hand-activated forceps. As a result, we have created hand forceps with smaller dimensions in terms of length and circumference of the activation mechanism, as well as reduction of the required hand activation force. These features subsequently enable more surgeons to effectively and comfortably use our products.

icon Commercial HSE Champions

In 2019, HSE champions were appointed in approximately 75 country organizations. HSE champions are responsible to facilitate of HSE management in each location. They are supported by the Regional HSE business partners, as well as the HSE global technical functions (Safety, Occupational Health & Environmental). Programs are divided into four different categories: emergency preparation and incident reporting, accident prevention and reporting, fire and life safety, and HSE data and documentation. These programs guide the champions on the health and safety management of our commercial associates.