Title:
Dyed soft contact lenses
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and kit for producing dyed soft contact lenses. The contact lenses are submerged in saline solution, and a strip that has been impregnated with a dye is added to the saline solution. Preferred dyes include the common dyes sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, and rose bengal. After a period of time, the lens absorbs the dye and can be removed from the solution and placed on the eye. Once the lens is illuminated with ultraviolet light, it will glow or fluoresce. This creates a dramatic effect, particularly in dimly lit areas. A method for producing a dyed soft contact lens, or enhancing the glow of a soft contact lens that has previously been dyed, while the lens is being worn in an eye of a subject.



Inventors:
Conte, Michael D. (Forth Worth, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/712685
Publication Date:
09/06/2007
Filing Date:
03/01/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06P5/00
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TRI V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JACKSON WALKER LLP (DALLAS, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for producing a dyed hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate, comprising: immersing the hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate in a saline solution; adding a dye-impregnated strip to the saline solution to produce a combination solution; allowing the hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate to remain in the combination solution for an amount of time; and removing the contact lens from the combination solution to produce a dyed hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate is a soft contact lens.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the saline solution is in an amount of about 10 milliliters.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the dye-impregnated strip is impregnated with sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, rose bengal, or a mixture thereof.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the dye-impregnated strip is impregnated with sodium fluorescein in an amount of from about 1 to about 30 milligrams.

6. The method of claim 4, wherein the dye-impregnated strip is impregnated with rose Bengal in an amount of from about 1 to about 20 milligrams.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the dye-impregnated strip contains from about 1 milligram to about 30 milligrams of dye.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of time is about 3 hours or more.

9. The method of claim 2, further comprising placing the contact lens on an eye and illuminating the eye with ultraviolet radiation.

10. The hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate prepared by the method of claim 1.

11. A kit for applying a dye to the surface of a contact lens, comprising: a container; a saline solution; and one or more strips of dye-impregnated strips.

12. The kit of claim 11, further comprising a UV light emitting system.

13. The kit of claim 11, wherein the container is capable of holding about 10 milliliters of solution.

14. The kit of claim 11, wherein the saline solution is in an amount of about 10 milliliters.

15. The kit of claim 11, wherein the one or more dye-impregnated strip is impregnated with sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, rose bengal, or a mixture thereof.

16. The kit of claim 15, wherein the one or more dye-impregnated strips is impregnated with sodium fluorescein in an amount of from about 1 to about 30 milligrams.

17. The kit of claim 15, wherein the one or more dye-impregnated strips is impregnated with rose bengal in an amount of from about 1 to about 20 milligrams.

18. The kit of claim 11, wherein the one or more dye-impregnated strips contain from about 1 milligram to about 30 milligrams of a dye.

19. A method for dyeing a soft contact lens worn by a subject in an eye comprising: adding a dye in a saline solution directly on the eye of the subject.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the dye is a sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, rose bengal, or a mixture thereof.

21. The method of claim 19, wherein the dye is sodium fluorescein in a concentration of from about 10 to about 20 volume percent.

22. The method of claim 19, wherein the soft contact lens has already been dyed.

Description:

This invention claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Ser. No. 60/779,287, entitled “DYED SOFT CONTACT LENSES,” filed on Mar. 3, 2006, having Michael D. Conte listed as the inventor, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

This invention pertains to colored, or dyed, hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate, and more particularly to a method and kit for dyeing soft contact lenses.

Colored contact lenses have been steadily gaining in popularity amongst individuals who want to change their eye color or add a dramatic new feature to their appearance. Contact lens makers first started adding color to contact lens in the 1970s to make the lenses easier to see. The amount of pigment used to create this “handling tint” is so slight that it has essentially no effect on how the lens looks on the eye. By the 1980s, iris-altering contacts had been created. Some offered subtle changes, such as lenses that made blue eyes look bluer. Other, novelty lenses became available that could change the eye's appearance dramatically, such as by turning the iris a blood-red color, for instance, or making it look like a cat's eye.

The simplest colored lenses are enhancing lenses, which look like a regular contact lens with an iris-sized circle of transparent color. These lenses aren't meant to hide the iris's natural color, but rather to augment it. Manufacturers create the color by covalently attaching organic azo dyes to the contact lens polymer. The use of opaque pigments is more difficult, as it has a tendency to look fake. Colored contact makers have gotten better at making dramatic yet realistic-looking changes to the appearance of the iris through the use of sophisticated designs of opaque inorganic pigments. Nano- and microscale particles of inorganic pigments such as titanium dioxide, iron oxide, and barium sulfate are typically used to achieve the opaque color in these lenses. The FDA has only approved a small number of pigments for use with contact lenses. It is also important that the pigment used have no effect on the morphology and overall mechanical properties of the lens.

For some lenses, inks are printed directly onto the lens and then covalently fixed onto the polymer surface. Other colored contact lenses are made by putting the inks into a mold and polymerizing the lens around these pigments, encapsulating the color within the contact. Others are made by stacking layers of dielectric films of alternating low and high refractive index. This, in combination with the films' precise nanoscale thickness, allows scientists to tailor the lens's reflective properties and therefore its color. The thin films are applied to the lens using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition or ion-assisted deposition. The process creates a smooth surface on the lens that's imperceptible to the wearer. All of these processes are complicated and require precise application of pigments or films through the use of highly sensitive and technical machinery.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,840,477 pertains to colored contact lenses having a dyed iris area and a light reflecting material on the concave surface of the lens. The reactive dyes are attached to the lens through the formation of a covalent bond between the lens material and the dye that is created after the lens is contacted with the dye for a sufficient amount of time. These dyes permanently stain the matrix of the contact lens.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,302,978 pertains to colored contact lenses in which the color is applied by direct application of one or more vat dyes, by printing the color onto the surface of the lens, or by incorporating a pigment onto the contact lens surface. These contact lenses are also permanently colored.

What is needed, therefore, is a simple method and kit for coloring contact lenses that is not permanent.

SUMMARY

The present invention relates generally to the field of a hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate. More particularly, it concerns a method for applying dyes to the surface of a soft contact lens, as well as a kit containing the components for application of a dye to a soft contact lens.

Generally, the current invention pertains to a method for coloring a substrate, such as contact lenses, preferably soft contact lenses. The method can be carried out by a contact lens owner after purchase from a manufacturer. The contact lenses are placed in a preserved saline solution. Next, a strip that has been impregnated with a dye is added to the saline solution in which the lens is being stored. After the lens has absorbed or adsorbed the dye, the lens can be inserted into the eye as it would normally be worm by the user. Exposure of the dyed lenses to ultraviolet light causes the lenses to glow. These particular dyes cause the contact lens to fluoresce under fluorescent light, creating a dramatic effect. The dyes do not permanently change the substrate contact lens. The dye does not print color into any part of the contact lens matrix. This effect of dyeing will fade over time as the dye slowly leaches out of the matrix of the lens. A kit containing all of the components to produce such dyed contact lenses is also described.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to methods and kits that utilize dyes to color the surface of hydrogel or silicon hydrogel substrate, such as a soft contact lens. The methods and kits produce contact lenses that will fluoresce or glow under fluorescent lights.

Soft contact lenses are also known as hydrogel and silicon hydrogel contact lenses. Soft contact lenses come in four (4) different groups. The first group is low water contact lenses containing less than fifty percent water and non-ionic hydrogel polymers. The second group is high water content lenses that contain over fifty percent water and non-ionic hydrogel polymers. The third group of soft contact lenses is low water contact lenses with less than fifty percent water and ionic hydrogel polymers. The fourth group is high water content lenses with greater than fifty percent water and ionic hydrogel polymers.

Generally, the current invention pertains to a method for dyeing soft contact lenses. The first step in the method comprises placing a soft contact lens in a container filled with saline solution. In the next step, a strip that has been impregnated with a dye is added to the saline solution that contains the soft contact lens, to produce a combination solution. After a period of time, the soft contact lens will absorb or adsorb the dye from the combination solution. Finally, the soft contact lens is removed from the combination solution, rinsed briefly with saline, and placed in the eye. Exposure to ultraviolet light will cause the soft contact lens to glow, especially in dim illumination or a dark room. This effect will fade over time as the dye slowly leaches out of the matrix of the lens. The dyes do not permanently change the contact lenses. The dyes do not permanently stain the matrix of the contact lens.

Although many dyes can be used, the preferred dyes for the current invention include sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, rose Bengal, and mixtures thereof. The strips onto which the dyes can be absorbed include small paper strips about 2 mm wide and 15 mm long The dyes can be absorbed or adsorbed by the strips by placing the absorbent paper strips in sodium fluorescein solution. Preferably, the strips absorb or adsorb from about 1 milligram of dye to about 30 milligrams of dye per strip. If the dye used is rose bengal, the preferred amount of dye is from about 1 milligram to about 20 milligrams. The amount of dye that is preferably absorbed onto the strip may need to be increased depending on the amount of saline solution in the container. The preferable amount of saline is about 10 milliliters but can be varied accordingly. An example of a commercially available sodium fluorescein strip is a FUL-GLO® fluorescein sodium sterile ophthalmic strip (Buffalo Grove, Ill.). The strip preferably dissolves in the saline solution to produce a combination solution. The amount of time required for the contact lens to absorb the dye will vary, but the preferable minimum amount of time during which the contact lens should be left in the combination solution is about three hours.

In additional embodiments, the dye that is absorbed or adsorbed by the strip may be a mixture of any useable dyes.

The current invention also pertains to a kit that may be used to dye soft contact lenses. The kit contains four main components. The first component is a contact lens container. The container can be a 10 mL size contact lens cup holder or any other suitable container. The second component is a bottle of preserved saline solution, available from any commercial source. The third component is a strip that has been impregnated with a dye. The dye is preferably sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, or rose bengal. The strips may vary in size and may contain from about 1 milligram to about 30 milligrams of dye per strip, depending on the size of the contact lens container and the selected dye. A fourth optional component is a UV light emitting system, such as a light bulb that emits ultraviolet light powered by a battery system.

To utilize the kit, the user deposits a contact lens, preferably a soft contact lens, into the contact lens container. The contact lens is one that has been prescribed by a doctor and obtained from a manufacturer of contact lenses. The container is then filled with saline solution from the bottle of preserved saline solution. The preferred amount of saline solution added is about 10 milliliters. A strip that has been impregnated with dye is then added to the saline solution. If the dye is sodium fluorescein, the strip should preferably contain from about 1 milligram to about 30 milligrams of dye per 10 milliliters of saline solution. If the dye is rose Bengal, the strip should preferably contain from about 1 milligram to about 20 milligrams of dye per 10 milliliters of saline solution. The strip preferably dissolves in the saline solution to produce a combination solution containing molecules of dye. These molecules are absorbed by the contact lens over a period of time. Preferably, the contact lens should be left in the container with the combination solution for about three hours or longer. After the lenses are placed in the eye, the UV light emitting system should be permitted to shine into the eyes to cause the contact lenses to glow.

The effect of utilizing the kit to produce the dyed contact lenses is that the lenses will fluoresce or glow, especially in dim illumination or a dark room. This creates a dazzling, dramatic effect.

Another embodiment of the present invention pertains to producing a dyed contact lens, or enhancing the glow of a soft contact lens that has already been dyed, while the subject is wearing or using the contact lens. Here, from about 10 to about 20 volume percent of a dye in liquid tears (saline) in about 0.5 ml to about 2 ml single use packages is put directly on the eye with the soft contact lens to either dye the “un-dyed” contact lens of enhance the glowing of the contact lens that has already been dyed. Usable dyes include sodium fluorescein, lissamine green, rose Bengal, and mixtures thereof.

REFERENCES CITED

The following U.S. Patent documents and publications are hereby incorporated by reference.

U.S. Patent Documents

  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,840,477 to Neefe et al.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 5,302,978 to Evans et al.