There’s a lot of confusion around buzzwords like Hydraluxe, used to describe technologies embedded in your contacts (in this case from Acuvue). A lot of the available resources online don’t go far enough to provide context to explain what it’s for, why it’s important (if it is at all), how it compares to others, and even failing to explain medical terms that industry insiders tend to take for granted. If you’re curious about Hydraluxe, which could be found in your next pair of contact lenses, read on.
What is Hydraluxe?
Hydraluxe is a contact lens-based technology developed by Acuvue (manufactured by Johnson & Johnson) and found in their Acuvue Oasys daily disposable line of contacts, specifically: Acuvue Oasys 1-Day, and Acuvue Oasys 1-Day for Astigmatism. It was introduced in 2016 and sits alongside other similar technologies found in earlier launched contacts like 1-Day Acuvue Moist that features Lacreon. It’s a heavily marketed feature by the brand, even figuring into the contact lens name itself and packaging, ie “Acuvue Oasys 1-Day w/Hydraluxe.”
Hydraluxe consists of 2 components:
- A wetting agent that hydrates the eye and reduces friction and discomfort
- A specially designed material infused with this agent, not just at the lens surface but throughout the material (think of a sponge), allowing it to be released throughout the course of a day
The wetting agent comes in the form of Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), an FDA-approved water-soluble polymer (a class of materials made of long, repeating chains of molecules). The ‘secret sauce’ of Hyrdaluxe comes not only in the use of PVP but how it’s incorporated into the contact lens structure (referred to as a ‘matrix’). This formulation has been patented by the company.
Why is Hydraluxe needed?
There are a couple of forces driving the development of technology like Hydraluxe and others. The 1st are expectations from contact lens wearers to see continual improvement in the issues they face while wearing contacts, including dry eyes and other ailments. The other is competitive pressure from other manufacturers attempting to do the same, in an environment where large improvements in materials and design are hard to come by.
On the performance requirement side, Johnson & Johnson claims that 6 out of 10 wearers of daily contacts experience a decline in performance over the course of a day. The drivers of this decline include dealing with multiple activities and switching between environments throughout the day (use of digital devices, commuting, exercising, and family time in a single day). Wearers of this group consistently report ‘tired eyes’ from this challenging environment. One of the root causes of this ‘tiredness’ is the need to support eye hydration, so manufacturers use agents embedded in the lens that supplement what your eye naturally provides (in the form of a tear film), with an additional wetting agent (in this case, Polyvinylpyrrolidone). What is a tear film? A gel-like substance consisting of mucins (a protein your body produces to protect and lubricate, in the case of your eyes) that covers your cornea under normal conditions but may become unstable in the presence of contact lenses, hence the need for an external agent like Hydraluxe.
The other reason for the inclusion of Hydraluxe is down to marketing. We’re not referring to the technology itself but to its branding and promotion. In a sometimes crowded marketplace where product differentiation is difficult because materials and technologies are so similar, companies are forced to further differentiate themselves with unique names and branding. This is not a cynical take, nor is this phenomenon exclusive to this brand, but it’s a reality of an industry that’s fairly mature already. Computer chips get faster every year but contact lenses don’t always get more comfortable with each passing year. It’s a much more stable industry. Calling out ‘Hydraluxe’ may help consumers identify and understand differences between brands.
How Does it Compare to other Contact Lens Technologies?
One of the more interesting comparisons is between Hydraluxe and the brand’s other technologies that sit alongside Hydraluxe, found in the brand’s other contacts. These technologies include Lacreon (used by 1-Day Acuvue Moist) and Hydraclear (used in Acuvue Oasys). What is known is that all 3 (Hydraluxe, Lacreon, and Hydraclear) follow the same approach of infusing wetting agents into the lens material. The wetting agent used is also the same, Polyvinylpyrrolidone. The differences boil down to lens materials (some lenses use hydrogel, others use silicone hydrogel), and likely, the amount of wetting agent used. Overall, despite the brand’s decision to use 3 different names to refer to the same or similar technology, we don’t think it’s relevant to choose a lens because one uses Lacreon, while another uses Hydraclear. Once again, this is a method of differentiation used for marketing purposes. The fact that Acuvue uses this general approach to address comfort and eye health in all of their lenses is what’s important.
What’s our take at Lens.com
We sell the complete line of Acuvue contacts, including those that use Hydraluxe and find they are very popular, highly rated lenses with our customers. Acuvue Oasys 1-Day w/Hydraluxe is #8 on our top 10 contacts of 2021 and boasts an average user rating of 8.6 out of 10. We find that our customers love many of Acuvue’s contacts as this family of lenses claims 5 slots out of 10 in our top-10 list. In truth, popularity doesn’t mean everything, and competing lenses have similar technologies that they also heavily promote. We think Hydraluxe is the real deal but it’s only one of a number of factors (like material type, water content, and breathability) that you and your ECP should consider in finding what’s the best lens for your situation.