Johnson & Johnson Innovative Focus: Contact Lens Technology

By Steve Brachmann
February 23, 2014

From recently issued patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,646,633, which is titled “Closure for Containers of Ophthalmic Solutions Containing a Spout Cap.”

Johnson & Johnson is an American company founded in 1886 that is mainly involved with the production of medical devices, pharmaceutical goods and consumer hygiene products. Headquartered in New Brunswick, NJ, this corporation recently made some major waves in the medical research field by announcing that it would make the data behind its clinical trials for medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs open and available for researchers. This company is a solid performer in many stock portfolios because of its position in medical industries; 70 percent of the company’s revenue comes from it’s position as a market leader in health care businesses.

We’ve covered the intriguing cosmetic and ophthalmologic innovations developed by this manufacturer before in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Today, we’re returning to take a closer look at Johnson & Johnson’s activities at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Although it doesn’t beat the same well-worn path as many other corporations we cover, J&J has had its fair share of interesting innovations over the past few months.

We start today with a look at our featured patent application, which describes a method of constructing contact lenses with inversion markings. These markings will let a user know that a contact lens is improperly inverted before inserting one into an eye, avoiding unnecessary irritation. Other contact lens technologies, including a lens containing an electronic circuit for visual enhancement, are described in other patent applications that we noticed today.

Johnson & Johnson has a fairly wide patent portfolio comprising many consumer products and professional devices for medical fields. This is evidenced by a few recently issued patents, one of which protects a system of analyzing patient health through fluorescent lighting applications. A soap bar with better cleansing properties, and a ophthalmologic solution container that prevents contamination, are protected by other patents that our readers may find interesting.

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Inversion Marking for Contact Lenses
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140036224

Contact lenses provide a number of benefits over eyeglasses for those with seeing problems or visual impairment. Myopia and nearsightedness are two eyesight conditions that can be aided through the use of ophthalmologic contact lenses. These lenses have been in widespread commercial use since the 1950s, and since then have been improved over the years, for instance allowing more airflow to a wearer’s eye. Many of these innovations have been created to increase the comfort level of wearing contact lenses.

One major cause of discomfort remains, however, as many contact lens wearers are aware. Inserting a contact lens the wrong way can result in a great deal of irritation to a person’s eyes. As well, the desired level of vision correction cannot be achieved when a contact lens is placed on an eye while inside-out. However, these lenses are very flexible, which makes inversion easier, and it’s difficult to notice that a lens is inverted, as it retains its concave shape.

Johnson & Johnson filed this patent application with the USPTO in July 2012 in the hopes of protecting an ophthalmologic contact lens which makes it easier to determine when an improper inversion has occurred. The contact lens in this application is constructed from a material that can include inversion markings. These markings appear when a contact is brought towards a wearer’s eye, instantly notifying them that a contact lens must be reverted to its natural state.

This contact lens incorporates an array of light diffraction, light scattering and light reflection technologies to create a marking within the lens that can be easily seen. The pattern created by the lens doesn’t impair a wearer’s optical vision at all, and in fact it disappears when the contact lens is in its proper state. Heat escaping a wearer’s body through their eyes also works to make the markings invisible.

Claim 1 of this Johnson & Johnson patent application would provide protections for:

“An ophthalmic lens, the lens comprising: a contact lens formed from a first material and including at least an optic zone and a peripheral zone; and an inversion marking incorporated into the contact lens, the inversion marking comprising a second material configured to be visible when off the eye and invisible when on the eye.”

 

Other Patent Applications

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140016084, tiled “Ophthalmic Lens With Repeating Wave Patterns.”

Johnson & Johnson is a major developer of cosmetic and therapeutic consumer products, and the company is responsible for a great deal of innovation in these fields. Following up on today’s featured patent application, we’re noticing a couple of other technologies related to contact lenses. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140022505, entitled Neuromuscular Sensing for Variable-Optic Electronic Ophthalmic Lens, would protect a contact lens that contains a miniature electronic device. This circuit would be able to enhance vision for users by adjusting the refractive power of the contact lenses in response to a user’s area of focus. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140016084, filed under the title Ophthalmic Lens With Repeating Wave Patterns, describes a cosmetic improvement to contact lenses that improve the natural appearance of the eye without applying a new color over a wearer’s iris.

Although contact lenses make up a fair amount of Johnson & Johnson’s product line, the corporation is also busy trying to protect new hygienic and personal care items that they’ve developed. Recently, the USPTO published a large number of patent applications assigned to this company protecting sunscreen compositions. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140004059, which is titled Sunscreen Compositions Containing an Ultraviolet Radiation-Absorbing Polyester, discusses a mild formula sunscreen lotion that uses a polyester material, which causes less irritation to the skin and eyes. We also noticed an intriguing technology at work in U.S. Patent Application No. 20130340781, titled Oil Absorbing Comb. This patent application would protect a disposable comb capable of removing significant amounts of oil from a person’s hair.

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Issued Patents of Note

Before we sign off, we want to take a few minutes to look at the recently issued patents assigned to Johnson & Johnson and awarded by the USPTO. We always make sure to spend some time looking at these patented technologies, which is the backbone of any company’s intellectual property. Not surprisingly, a number of other optical technologies are at the center of some of these patents. Others feature new versions of consumer products that you might see in your corner pharmacy soon.

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, a subsidiary based in Jacksonville, FL, has received the right to protect a couple of new technologies that should aid corrective vision techniques and products. U.S. Patent No. 8646908, entitled Rotationally Stabilized Contact Lenses and Methods for Their Design, protects a type of contact lens which is better stabilized upon a wearer’s eye. This helps the corrective properties of these lenses, as well as any cosmetic coloring, to work more properly for a wearer. U.S. Patent No. 8641194, issued under the title System for In Vivo Analysis of Tear Film in the Human Eye Via Phase Shifting Interferometry, protects a method for analyzing the dynamics of a tear film that forms over a person’s eye every time that person blinks, aiding research in this field.

A variety of new consumer and medical professional products are protected by some other patents we decided to explore for our readers at IPWatchdog. An improved container for contact lens solution is the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8646633, which is titled Closure for Containers of Ophthalmic Solutions Containing a Spout Cap. This new container includes a spout cap that can reduce the chances that a user’s hand can contaminate the solution. Bars of soap designed for extra cleanliness are described in U.S. Patent No. 8618035, entitled Soap Bar Containing Hydrogel Phase Particles.

From U.S. Patent No. 8,618,035, entitled “Soap Bar Containing Hydrogel Phase Particles.”

The hydrogel phase particles in these milled soap bars increase the water content level in each, in turn increasing the bar’s cleansing properties. Finally, we were intrigued by the system explained in U.S. Patent No. 8620411, titled Method of Assessing Skin and Overall Health of an Individual. This patent, which does have a very long Claim 1 section and is therefore very narrow in what it actually protects, discusses a complex system of analyzing the health of an individual based on the reaction of that person’s skin to fluorescent lights.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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