CooperVision Looks to Innovate in Hacienda

Contact Lens Technology Leader Moves New R&D Division to Park

CooperVision, the third-largest contact lens maker in the world, recently announced that it will be expanding its facility at 5870 Stoneridge Drive by 18,000 square feet. The expansion will accommodate the equipment and staff necessary for increased research and development of new materials and processes to be used in the vision industry. CooperVision's former home at the site occupied 6,700 square feet and originally housed Ocular Sciences, acquired by CooperVision in January of this year. The enlarged facility is expected to open at the end of April this year.

"On its own, Ocular Science was about a $400 million company before joining with CooperVision - another $400 million company," says Chris Marmo, vice president of research and development for CooperVision and former holder of the same title for Ocular Sciences. "Before the acquisition, CooperVision didn't have a research group. When they acquired Ocular Sciences, they chose to have the company's research and development group continue to perform the same tasks for CooperVision. We are now in the process of expanding both our facilities and staff to meet market demand and the needs of the company." Currently, CooperVision's recently acquired research operation employs approximately 22 people in Pleasanton and 20 people in the UK, but expects to double the size of the Pleasanton team by year's end.

In addition to being the number one manufacturer of what are known as "toric" contact lenses - those designed to correct astigmatism, a condition where the eye's cornea is not spherical - CooperVision also has other interesting products on the way that are intended to serve the needs of contact lens wearers. Among these products is a lens that can be worn for a much longer time than users' may have experienced in the past. "The vision industry is moving toward new materials for contact lenses that should allow the patient to wear them for around 30 days without taking them out of their eyes," Marmo says. "That's the next generation of lens material and that's what we're currently focusing on. They're not here yet but they're on the way."

Another interesting aspect of the company is the way that it sells its products. "Our marketing and sales strategy differs from the approach taken by many other companies in our field," Marmo says. "Rather than selling to the consumer directly, we sell and market our products to vision care professionals. The contact lens is a medical device, and we believe that the patient should go to the appropriate practitioner for a prescription. We want to make sure that people who use our products are receiving good care and that their eyes are healthy and thriving."

CooperVision Inc. is headquartered in Lake Forest, California, and has manufacturing operations in Hamble, England; Rochester, New York; Huntington Beach; Adelaide, Australia; Madrid, Spain; Norfolk, Va.; and Toronto, Canada. CooperVision is owned by the Cooper Companies, which has corporate offices in Lake Forest and Pleasanton. In addition to CooperVision, Cooper Companies Inc. also owns CooperSurgical, which manufactures and markets diagnostic products, surgical instruments, and accessories for the women's healthcare market.

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