This month I caught up with Josh Adams, vice president of Valley Contax, a custom specialty contact lens manufacturer in Springfield, OR. Adams currently serves as president of the Contact Lens Manufacturer’s Association (CLMA), a trade organization for the gas permeable contact lens industry. Having just started a two-year term, Adams shares his experience in the industry and the lofty goals he holds for his presidential term and beyond.
Lindsay Sicks (LS): Valley Contax is a family-run company—congratulations on your 40th anniversary this year, by the way—but how did you personally get involved with the CLMA?
Josh Adams (JA): Well, thank you. We are very excited to celebrate our anniversary and reflect not only on how far the contact lens industry has come since 1981, but also look toward the future. I have been a part of this industry since I was 16 years old. My mother, Janice Adams, was president of the CLMA from 2006 to 2008. Following her tenure, I became the official CLMA representative for Valley Contax.
In 2011, I was inspired to join the CLMA board of directors—it was a time when the organization was in search of some fresh ideas. For two years, I served as the youngest board member and really tried to represent ideas for the next generation of contact lenses. I stepped away in 2013, but later realized that decision was probably a result of both naivete and impatience. A good friend helped me realize that it’s much easier to effect change from within an organization than from the outside.
In 2015, the industry was widely affected by the Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquisition of Bausch + Lomb, Alden Optical and later Paragon Vision Sciences, which continued to motivate me and began to solidify my commitment to rejoin the board of directors. I have since moved up within the executive board over the years before becoming president. Back then, I knew the next decade in our industry was going to hold great promise in terms of innovation, but also include significant obstacles due to the increased interest in custom lenses shown by the big players in contact lenses.
Josh Adams, president of the Contact Lens Manufacturer’s Association (CLMA). Click image to enlarge.
LS: What role do the individual manufacturers and laboratories play in the CLMA?
JA: The mission of the CLMA is to increase the awareness and uptake of custom-manufactured contact lenses. The individual manufacturers and laboratories are the lifeblood of the CLMA. We are all familiar with the nature of the custom lens industry—it’s about quality, service and relationships. The CLMA is continuously looking to improve upon the success of our members, as that ultimately drives improved patient outcomes in the clinic. Our member laboratories play a key role in making all of that happen. We are a grassroots organization that still looks out for the independent laboratory. As long as we keep their best interests in mind, mutually rewarding relationships between individual practitioners and their manufacturing labs can thrive.
LS: Can you explain the role of the Gas Permeable Lens Institute (GPLI) in the CLMA?
JA: The GPLI has always been known as the educational arm of the CLMA. It was founded in 1985 by a small, independent group of active, contact lens–minded practitioners and forward-thinking industry leaders. The GPLI is so important to our members, as well as individual practitioners. It drives success at the clinical level due to the immense amount of instruction and education, which ultimately leads to positive outcomes for patients. The CLMA provides primary funding support for the GPLI and is very active in its strategic planning and future endeavors.
The GPLI is the primary budget line item for the CLMA, so we are very proud of its impact on the custom contact lens industry. At the end of the day, the GPLI’s motto is “GP lenses change lives,” and that’s what we seek to help practitioners do.
Custom Stable Elite (Valley Contax) 16.8mm scleral lens fit on a patient at a GPLI Workshop, showing compression over a pinguecula. Click image to enlarge.
LS: What are your priorities as CLMA president for the next two years?
JA: My primary goal is to unify the efforts of the custom contact lens industry by incorporating all US custom manufacturers into our organization. Over the past five years or so, the industry has seen many changes. The growth and excitement that exists in the custom contact lens space has also brought investment from more traditional players. While this is surely an exciting development, it also brings changes and challenges. My vision is to unite our industry and focus on technology and growth, as well as the clinical education that is key to practitioner and patient success.
LS: If you could do anything to transform the CLMA, what would it be?
JA: I will look to reinvent the CLMA to be prepared for future generations. We are a 60-year-old trade organization that has survived and thrived through so much change.
For the CLMA to continue to stay relevant in the coming decades, we must search for ways to support education and inspiration for all those involved in custom contact lenses. I am currently bringing ideas to the board of directors that can facilitate this transformation. We are prepared to look at all aspects of our operations to determine the best path forward.
Right now, we do a lot of good and impact many lives, but we have not yet reached our potential as an organization and have a lot more to provide for our laboratory members and the practitioners with whom they partner.
Lens markings indicate the quadrant-specific nature of this Custom Stable Elite, fit as part of Valley Contax’s Custom Stable Vision Project materials grant program. Click image to enlarge.
LS: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from your time with the CLMA?
JA: Patience and perseverance. With time and experience, I have learned that not everyone sees the same paths all the time—that can take some time to work through. Growing up in this industry and having progressed through the leadership ranks, I have learned that making a powerful impact through change takes time. The best way that I can support my fellow manufacturers is to listen, learn and figure out how we can shape this industry in the ways that benefit all of us.