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Investing in Glaucoma Innovation: Q+A with Alcon’s Ian Bell for World Glaucoma Week


Ian Bell
President of Global Business and Innovation

Ian Bell
President of Global Business and Innovation

Glaucoma is a progressive disease with no cure. It’s the second leading cause of preventable blindness globally, yet half of the people living with it don’t even know they have it.1 Ian Bell, President of Global Business and Innovation at Alcon, the global leader in eye care, believes there is significant work to be done to manage and halt the progression of glaucoma. During this World Glaucoma Week, March 12-18, Ian shares how Alcon is building on its history of addressing unmet needs by pursuing innovation in the treatment of glaucoma.

1.) Why glaucoma and why make a significant commitment to glaucoma innovation now?

Alcon has a long history of working with eye care professionals to deliver solutions to manage glaucoma. Today, the unmet need is tremendous: Primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, affects an estimated 68.6 million people worldwide.2

With a growing aging population, we see a lot of opportunities to meet the needs of patients at different stages of glaucoma’s progression. Our approach to creating effective glaucoma management is twofold. We aim to offer both non-surgical interventions like pharmaceutical glaucoma eye drops and minimally invasive surgical interventions like minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGs) devices.

That’s why Alcon continues to innovate in glaucoma with our best-in-class R&D team and we’ve made acquisitions last year in glaucoma with Aerie Pharmaceuticals and Ivantis, Inc.

2.) What is the greatest unmet need in glaucoma and how does Alcon plan to work to meet it?

Intraocular pressure (IOP) is a major risk factor for glaucoma and lowering IOP remains a core focus of glaucoma management.3 However, patient compliance with medication to help lower IOP is still a challenge.3 There’s still a significant amount of work to be done on increasing patient compliance and adherence to ensure glaucoma is better managed.

Therefore, while MIGs can help address these challenges in the current treatment paradigm, there’s more work to be done. We are looking at many future innovations in this area, including drug delivery and sustained-release technologies to help reduce the compliance burden put on patients using medications as well as next generation device technologies to further optimize the balance of patient risk and the benefit of lowering IOP.

3.) As a leader in other eye conditions areas such as cataracts —what are key learnings you can implement to ensure advancement in the glaucoma management?

Performing surgical interventions in mild to moderate glaucoma patients is a paradigm shift and it will take time for it to become a standard of care. To achieve this, it is critical that surgeons are bought into the safety and efficacy profile that various MIGs devices can deliver. We’ve seen similar challenges with surgeons adopting advanced intraocular lenses (ATIOLs) in the cataract space, which offer more vision correction options at the time of cataract surgery. Surgeons must be educated and given the proper training to give them confidence in implanting these IOLs.

Awareness efforts, like World Glaucoma Week, help drive the conversation and awareness among patients, physicians, insurers and industry leaders—so that we can continue to see progress in the management of glaucoma.

4.) What are Alcon’s plans for 2023 and beyond?

Alcon is committed to helping people See Brilliantly. We have more than 100 projects in our pipeline and will continue to bring our portfolio of products and solutions—including our glaucoma management portfolio—to ECPs and their patients around the world.


  1. Glaucoma Facts and Stats | glaucoma.org. (2022, February 28). Retrieved February 17, 2023, from glaucoma.org website: http://glaucoma.org/glaucoma-facts-and-stats/#:~:text=Glaucoma%20is%20the%20second%20leading%20cause%20of%20blindness
  2. Allison, K., Patel, D., & Alabi, O. (2020). Epidemiology of Glaucoma: The Past, Present, and Predictions for the Future. Cureus, 12(11), e11686. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.11686
  3. Robin, Alan, and Davinder S Grover. “Compliance and adherence in glaucoma management.” Indian journal of ophthalmology vol. 59 Suppl,Suppl1 (2011): S93-6. doi:10.4103/0301-4738.73693

©2023 Alcon Inc. GLB-CAT-2300002

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