R&D in the opthalmology field is conducted largely out of the big pharma realm. In fact, the most significant characteristic of the ophthalmic drug scene is its dichotomy. Not considering Bausch & Lomb, which is primarily an ophthalmic device and surgery company, there are only two medium-sized companies, Alcon and Senju, that are almost exclusively focused in this field. A third, Allergan, has ophthalmological drugs as a crucial part of its business. Almost all ophthalmological drug research is carried out by small companies, frequently in close partnership with academia.
According to published figures, the number of people with impaired vision, including blindness, living in the U.S. will at least double over the next three decades. About 119 million Americans are older than 40, which is the age at which serious eye diseases typically become a problem. Some 35 million are already affected by the four most prevalent: age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts, although cataract treatment is confined to surgery rather than therapeutics.
With the leading edge of the baby-boomer generation approaching 60, the number of eye disease sufferers in the U.S. is expected to top 50 million or more over the next 15 years.