Interview with Christoph Vonwiller, President, APAC of Johnson & Johnson Vision

Mr. Christoph Vonwiller, President, APAC of Johnson & Johnson Vision shared his insights and industry trends with ASIA PACIFIC BUSINESS in a recent interview. Christoph has over 18 years of experience in the medical technology industry, from close collaboration with Research & Development, managing key accounts and partners, sales and marketing, and business intelligence to building robust global and regional strategies to address nuanced needs in the region. This, and his leadership in building and empowering expert teams to drive executional excellence has been instrumental to driving growth and delivering positive business outcomes.

APAC BUSINESS: The eye health market is growing significantly with increasing rates of time spent looking at digital screens and a growing aging population, what is your expected market size in the Asia Pacific region?

The Asia Pacific region contributes disproportionately to the global burden of vision impairment and eye disease. Nearly two-third of patients with moderate-to-severe vision impairment come from East, South, and Central Asia, even though the population of these regions accounts for only 51% of the global population. The majority of these vision impairments come from conditions that could have been prevented or are yet to be addressed.

While we have made progress in many areas, there are many remaining unmet eye health needs to be addressed. Widespread digital lifestyle trends and increasing rates of time spent looking at digital screens continue to contribute to visual discomfort and increased rates of near work have played a part in increasing incidences of myopia.

The number of people aged 65 and older is expected to double over the next three decades, with Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan expected to have the highest share of people aged 65 and older by 2050. As people live longer, the number of people with cataract is anticipated to grow.

With this population growth and emerging lifestyle trends driving increased vision care need, it creates accelerated opportunities for us to become the fastest-growing region.

APAC BUSINESS: What are some of the latest trends that you’ve been observing in myopia management? And what’s the technologies in your pipeline to combat rising demands of myopia in the region?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the biggest eye health threat of the 21st century and the myopia epidemic is extremely prevalent here in Asia Pacific. Johnson & Johnson Vision has invested significantly in understanding myopia and developing scientifically proven solutions to address this condition.

By 2050, half of the world’s population are projected to be myopic, with one billion expected to have high myopia, a severe state of the condition that can lead to retinal disease with an increased risk of blindness. Young children who develop myopia before the age of 12 are more at risk of developing high myopia, leading to increased risks of sight-threatening diseases such as myopic macular degeneration and retinal detachment. Myopia also progresses more quickly in children, which is why parents need to take action early to manage their children’s myopia and protect their sight and eye health.

Recognising the impact of myopia and the importance of myopia management, we launched our ACUVUE Abiliti brand for myopia management to address the prevalence and progression of myopia in children (Singapore and Hong Kong were the first Asia Pacific markets after Canada). It also won Ophthalmology Product Innovation of the Year.

ACUVUE Abiliti is a holistic suite of myopia management solutions designed to fit seamlessly into the lifestyle of parents and children. This includes the Abiliti 1-Day Soft Therapeutic Lenses for Myopia Management, the Abiliti Overnight Therapeutic Lenses for Myopia Management, and the SeeAbiliti Digital companion app which helps parents manage their child’s treatment and includes appointment reminders and information on how to support their child’s myopia.

Our hope is that this will help empower parents and eye care professionals to take a safe and proactive approach to help manage children’s myopia.

APAC BUSINESS: J&J Vision has been engaged in APAC for decades, could you talk about your growth strategy and collaboration with the ophthalmology community in APAC region?

We want to pave the way for a new future in eye health in Asia Pacific by working closely with ophthalmologists and academia to understand, anticipate and address our patient’s needs. This is crucial to restore, enhance and advance healthy vision for patients across the region.

Eye health innovation requires multi-stakeholder collaboration and a nuanced understanding of the patient journey. We would like to see Asia Pacific playing a bigger role through the number of clinical studies conducted here and even portfolio innovations suited for Asian patients. Being able to partner with ophthalmologists in Asia to co-innovate and test solutions in this region first is critical to redefine clinical outcomes and provide innovative solutions for patients.

In addition, developing connected ecosystems and experiences through industry partnerships allows us to protect, treat, cure, and reinvent eye health, so everyone has the opportunity to obtain and maintain peak sight.

APAC BUSINESS: J&J Vision has a diversified portfolio of products and brands, please update us on your portfolios and latest innovations?

At Johnson & Johnson Vision, our world-class innovations are geared towards delivering the best outcomes to patients at every stage in their eye health journey. Our novel products and services address eye health needs and we continue to deliver new vision solutions from specialty lenses to innovative surgical equipment for the most advanced vision procedures.

For the last two decades, we have been an industry leader in precision, personalisation and proven exceptional outcomes in laser vision correction. We recently debuted our new next-generation laser vision correction solution, the ELITA Femtosecond Laser System. It represents a generational leap in corneal refractive technology, leveraging advanced technologies and designs to deliver improvements in surgical experiences and patient outcomes.

Our TECNIS portfolio of intraocular lens (IOL) reliably delivers the outstanding results surgeons and their patients are looking for in vision correction following cataract surgery. For example, we believe the introduction of TECNIS Synergy redefines the industry standard for IOL quality and performance – it gives patients the clear, continuous range of vision they want, from far to near (33cm), day to night.

Our ACUVUE brand, the best-selling contact lens brand worldwide, has been dedicated to bringing the benefits of vision care (clearer vision, more comfort, and healthier eyes) to people around the globe for over 30 years. We also recently launched our ACUVUE Abiliti brand for myopia management for children. We are on an ongoing mission to help people see better, with new ideas, new science and new technologies coming soon.

APAC BUSINESS: Please tell us about yourself, your previous experiences or the lessons you learnt in the healthcare industry. As the new president of APAC, what are some of the priorities you will set for the company moving forward in APAC?

I have been with Johnson & Johnson for 18 years and it has been a wonderful journey across different businesses and geographies. My experience across the different therapeutic areas at Johnson & Johnson has shaped my leadership style, and also created an impact on how I see the world and the impact we can bring to our patients.

Our growth strategy is centered on the patient and built on a strong foundation of scientific innovation. Launching new products in the region is a priority as we think strategically and holistically about a patient’s lifetime journey – best identifying how we can serve that patient and preserve outstanding vision. This is about balancing how we unlock synergies and foster deep expertise in the eye health intervention points in which we operate.

We want to pave the way for a new future in eye health in APAC by collaborating with the brightest around the world, gaining insights from patients and clinicians, and translating those insights into improvements in products, patient care, and ultimately sight itself. This includes partnering with ophthalmologists in Asia to co-innovate and test solutions in this region first – to redefine clinical outcomes and provide innovative solutions suited to Asian patients and healthcare professionals.

In communities with greatest need, we work in collaboration to expand access to quality eye care, and we are committed to making vision possible for everyone.