JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Johnson & Johnson Vision said this week that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) gave its approval to the company’s Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen for allergic eye itch. J&J said this Acuvue lens is “the first and only vision correction contact lens that relieves allergic eye itch.” The lens contains ketotifen, an H1 histamine receptor antagonist for the prevention of itch associated with eye allergies.  This is the first regulatory approval by any health authority for the novel technology, which combines an Acuvue daily disposable contact lens (etafilcon A) with ketotifen, an established antihistamine, the company noted.

The lens is not yet approved for the U.S. market, however, the company acknowledged it would like to see wider availability of the news Acuvue lens in the future. "Johnson & Johnson Vision is collaboratively working with regulatory agencies to make this contact lens available to more patients and doctors in need," Carlos Taveras, J&J Vision's communications leader, North America, told VMAIL.

“This approval marks another significant milestone in Johnson & Johnson Vision's legacy of rethinking what's possible with contact lenses, and bringing forward innovations to help eyecare practitioners better meet the needs of their patients around the world,” said Xiao-Yu Song, MD, PhD, global head of research & development, Johnson & Johnson Vision. “Our goal at Johnson & Johnson Vision is to change the trajectory of eye health and we will continue to drive new innovation and technologies that correct, enhance, and restore people's vision over their lifetimes."

Itchy allergy eyes can impact vision, and this becomes even more problematic for contact lens wearers—most of whom resort to rubbing their eyes, according to the J&J Vision announcement. Data show that 8 out of 10 contact lens wearers feel frustrated when their eye allergies interfere with normal contact lens wear.

Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen may help patients who wish to continue wearing contact lenses during the allergy season, J&J Vision said, also noting that this new lens “is the first in an entirely new contact lens category and brings forward a better contact lens wearing experience for patients with allergic eye itch.”

J&J Vision noted that it is working with health authorities worldwide to bring Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen to contact lens wearers seeking relief from allergic eye itch.