Move over Hubble, there’s a new player in the daily disposable subscription contact lens space, and they are speaking optometry’s language perhaps even better than we are. We sat down with Cecile Thai, CEO of Aveo Vision in an illuminating interview about how her product is positioned to take on industry competitors by focusing on a surprising message: patient health.
Thai focused her entrepreneurial endeavors on founding Aveo Vision due to a personal struggle with eyecare and contact lens health. She wore contact lenses for 15 years but developed significant corneal neovascularization that was progressive enough to force her out of contact lens wear as an adult. Eventually she pursued LASIK for vision correction, but the fear of the damage done to her by wearing contact lenses inspired her to investigate healthier options. Daily disposable contact lenses seemed so much safer, but millions of Americans still wear multiple wear lenses, primarily due to prohibitive cost in Thai’s market research. Her mission: bring more people into daily lens wear by overcoming the hurdle of pricing and focusing on the health advantages of the modality.
During our conversation, the marketing strength of Thai’s message is clear. Every part of her contact lens design and technology is branded in a way to appeal to patients. Her contact lenses don’t just have edges; they have the patented “BlissEdge Design.” Doesn’t that sound pleasant? Her moisture agent in the contact lens (called “AquaLock”) is branded “like a #SpaDay for your eyes.” Her use of aspheric optics, branded as “HD vision”. Even the material omafilcon A (which many of you will recognize from it’s use in Proclear lens material which has gone generic with patent expirations) gets a ringing endorsement as highly breathable. When asked if she felt calling a hydrogel material breathable was misleading to the public, Thai countered that omafilcon A is the most breathable lens material in it’s class. Touché.
Interviewing Thai, her passion and strong belief in the importance of eyecare shows through. She supports the need for optometric care and corneal health evaluations and wants to partner with eyecare providers to ensure the best care for patients. She even had a booth at this June’s Optometry’s Meeting event. But what happens to her company and passion if she finds optometry’s community less than willing to bridge the gap? She hasn’t ruled out online prescription fulfillment as a way of the future to bring patients to her contact lenses. Her first choice is to partner with doctors on in office care if given the chance.
These are the questions we all must be asking as more competitors enter the online contact lens marketplace, working with better and more comfortable materials than Hubble lenses and with a stronger marketing message that sounds a lot like how we talk about contact lens health and safety in our own practices. One thing is clear, we can learn a lot from disruptors about communication strategies and marketing techniques designed to appeal to patients that will work in our own practices. But is there a way to partner with any of these disruptive companies for a common goal or mission? It will be up to our generation of ODs to decide!