NEW YORK—Several major contact lens companies responded to queries from VMAIL for their initial response to a recent research study that indicated that several types of soft contact lenses in the U.S. may contain toxic “forever chemicals.” The report and blog post, picked up and shared by a few news outlets and social media, shared its description of the study, conducted by a group called Mamavation in partnership with Environmental Health News, which said that 18 sets of soft contact lenses were evaluated and came back with various levels of organic fluorine—an indicator for the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals" are a large, complex group of synthetic chemicals that have been used in consumer products around the world since about the 1950s, according to the National Institutes of Health. They are ingredients in various everyday products and can last for years without breaking down and have been linked to cancer and other serious health issues.

One report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), found PFAS in the blood of 97 percent of Americans.

The sets of soft contact lenses tested were from three major companies (Acuvue, a brand of Johnson & Johnson Vision, Alcon and CooperVision), and were sent to a laboratory certified by the Environmental Protection Agency by the Mamavation eco-wellness website, to determine how much of this PFAS building block was present in each product.

Alcon contact lenses have been shown to be safe and are used daily by millions of people in more than 140 countries. All of Alcon’s contact lenses meet our stringent internal safety standards and comply with the regulatory requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Chemicals Agency, or similar regulatory bodies in all of the markets in which we sell our products,” an Alcon spokesperson shared.

“Alcon continually monitors and evaluates emerging science and information about the materials we use so that we can keep earning the trust of the eyecare professionals and consumers we serve,” the spokesperson for Alcon said. “We are aware of media coverage of a recent report concerning contact lenses, which purports to measure total organic fluorine in certain contact lenses.

"Alcon questions the results of that report. For example, Dailies Total1 and Total30 contact lenses do not contain organic fluorine in their formulation. Alcon is requesting a copy of the report to better understand how it reached its conclusions.

“Alcon remains committed to maintaining our legacy of manufacturing contact lenses to the highest quality and safety standards. In the meantime, consumers can confidently use all Alcon contact lenses,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for CooperVision said,“PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) may be used in a wide range of products for important chemical and physical properties. Like thousands of other companies, we are learning as much as possible about this issue—and are committed to acting responsibly in the interests of our customers and sustainable practices.
"In addition to significant speculation and opinion masked as science," the CooperVision spokesperson said, "the blog post creating this discussion tested a marker, which it readily admits is not a direct assessment of PFAS inclusion. We have not been provided with its data and have not been contacted by the organization. There are multiple definitions of PFAS around the world, with no universal consensus.”

Johnson and Johnson Vision, which owns Acuvue, was unavailable for comment. 

Bausch + Lomb contact lenses were not included in the study. And according to a Bausch + Lomb spokesperson, “no Bausch + Lomb soft contact lenses are formulated with fluorinated polymers or PFAS.”