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Innovation Articles

Advanced Silicones for Contact Lenses

April 12, 2015

Momentive Silicones

Enabling a Visionary Contact Lens

The ideal contact lens should deliver high levels of comfort, lubricity, oxygen permeability, clarity and durability at a competitive price. Yet many materials force lens manufacturers to sacrifice certain characteristics in favor of others.

Momentive doesn’t accept this compromise. That’s why we asked: What if there was a material that could deliver all of these characteristics? We also wanted to know: What if that material could simplify processing for manufacturers?

So we are working with leading industry specialists to develop a range of advanced silicone materials that are now facilitating the creation of the next generation of silicone hydrogel contact lenses. And we’re continuing our research and testing to further refine material properties so we can help manufacturers produce lenses with even better performance.

Supporting Development of Next-Generation Silicone Hydrogel Lenses

For nearly 75 years, Momentive has supplied many of the world’s largest companies with cutting-edge, high-performance silicones and silicone derivatives. Our products help those companies innovate successful products that improve everyday life.

The same holds true for contact lens manufacturers. We’ve worked together with industry specialists and customers to learn about their complex product needs and manufacturing challenges. As a result of our collaborations, we are now developing advanced, customizable materials that offer the potential to enhance both the performance and production of silicone hydrogel contact lenses. Ultimately, our solutions are intended to help manufacturers innovate the next generation of lenses that enhance wearers’ eye health and comfort.

Testing to Enhance and Customize Performance

Momentive’s research and development facilities provide the analytics needed to support our customers’ contact lens innovations.

We know contact lens manufacturers need to have high quality silicone tailored specifically for their needs. That is why we start with our standard OphthaSil* silicone fluid grades and then alter various properties such as molecular weight and inhibitor amount. We then provide our customers with the advanced analytical data they need to do their formulation. We use UV, FTIR, Mass and NMR spectrometers, as well as liquid and gas chromatography to characterize our materials.

At Momentive, we also have the expertise to screen our silicone materials in standard contact lens formulations. This gives us data to share with our customers so they can reduce the time it takes to match materials to the properties they desire in their lenses. For example, if a customer wants a higher oxygen permeability lens, Momentive can make screening formulations with a higher silicone content macromer. We can then make and cure films from this formulation to generate not only oxygen permeability data, but also water content, contact angle, Young’s modulus, leachables and optical transparency.

Innovating to Enhance Manufacturing

Our team of experts has also focused on improving manufacturing processes for lens producers, delivering:

  • Customizable cure rates: We can customize cure rates to our customers’ individual manufacturing requirements and product specifications.
  • Compatibility with a wide range of commonly used organics and other siloxane-based monomers, macromers and prepolymers: Momentive’s technology can simplify formulation development by providing products that may not require compatibilizers. 
  • Inherently hydrophilic technologies: Our fully water-soluble siloxane materials can be used without organic solvents or with only water as a diluent, which may reduce manufacturing costs and complexity.
  • Enhanced film release: Films made from our water-soluble siloxane materials can offer an easier film release from glass substrates compared to traditional silicone hydrogel formulations for improved product quality and throughput.

Collaborating to Innovate

Momentive collaborates closely with our customers to increase opportunities to realize breakthrough innovations for their products. We also create innovations of our own based on extensive market research and internal collaboration. Our research and development team has developed market-specific silicone materials that have resulted in multiple U.S. utility patent applications, as well as foreign applications. From these filings, we’ve already been granted two U.S. patents.

From assisting with the selection of the right silicone materials to helping improve manufacturing operations, Momentive’s expert teams have the hands-on experience required to effectively support product development for contact lens manufacturers. Our innovative solutions can help them innovate the next generation of better-performing silicone hydrogel lenses.

For more information view our contact lens industry page:

Technical Data Sheet:

*OphthaSil is a trademark of Momentive Performance Materials Inc.


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* Silplusは、新日鉄住金化学株式会社の商標であり、許可を得て使用しています。

*The marks followed by an asterisk (*) are trademarks of Momentive Performance Materials Inc.