Dr. Gerald Horn Explains How He Created The World’s Leading Eye-Whitening Drop

Dr. Gerald Horn

October 12, 2020

Originally called Luminesse, Dr. Gerald Horn’s eye drop was licensed to Bausch Health Care in 2019

Many people have problems causing eye redness—dryness, allergies, smoking to name a few. And for decades, they relied on a select few products to combat redness and discomfort. However, those products remained relatively unchanged, rarely evolving with any significance, even as science advanced. But now a new generation of eye whitening drops are available over the counter thanks to what Dr. Gerald Horn, Medical Director of Lasik Plus Chicago, invented, patented, and originally called Luminesse. Now licensed to Bausch Health Care as Lumify®, it has become #1 in the US with over $100 M in sales, and #1 doctor recommended. 

An ophthalmologist, LASIK surgeon, inventor, and co-founder/Chief Scientific Officer of four pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Gerald Horn has spent over four decades committed to finding and discovering new ways to apply science to improve vision. A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois College of Medicine now serving as the Medical Director of LasikPlus Chicago, Dr. Gerald Horn sought to create an eye drop that would allow patients to overcome the very common social stigma of red eyes, for which the traditional redness-relieving eye drops had limited effectiveness, and bring much-needed evolution to the stagnant over-the-counter eye drop market. 

For nearly 50 years, the formula for redness relief had remained unchanged. That generation of drops targeted what are known as alpha 1 receptors, and constricted both larger and smaller vessels. They would constrict all surface vessels of the eye, often causing reduced surface circulation and rebound redness with regular use. By switching to an alpha 2 receptor with only a small alpha 1 effect, and pinpointing a very low concentration range in which they worked best, Dr. Gerald Horn observed they predominantly constricted the almost invisible tiny network of vessels on the surface. Then, as they dilated sensitive to a variety of irritants, redness would become considerable. By selectively constricting this network of vessels,  not only is eye redness dramatically reduced, but considerable whitening takes effect. 

After his findings, Dr. Gerald Horn invented a unique formulation that was FDA-approved after a Phase 3 FDA trial. It was created with an active ingredient safely used from a glaucoma drug at higher concentrations several times a day, often for years. Dr. Gerald Horn wanted something that would be safe, work quickly, and possibly whiten better than what was available over the counter. The Phase 3 trial showed it would often work to reduce redness in about 60 seconds and had few very minor side effects. Further, the formula can last up to eight hours.

Using the drops couldn’t be easier. Simply look up and apply a drop or two in each eye. Dr. Gerald Horn does note, however, that while his whitening drops are safe for use in adults, they are not to be used in children and not designed for the small percent of individuals born with an unusually prominent large single vessel, or who have a yellowish growth near either corner of their eyelids. And of course, any recurring, unrelieved redness, or eye pain should always be evaluated by an eye specialist to rule out infection or other causes.

Dr. Gerald Horn’s creation of what went from “Luminesse” to “Lumify®” was quite serendipitous. After failing to find interest initially with any pharmaceutical company, Dr. Gerald Horn met with a world-renowned ophthalmologist, Dr. Lee Nordan, at a national eye convention. Dr. Nordan took an immediate interest in the eye whitening drop, and their collaboration led to its Phase 3 FDA study, eventual license, and subsequent collaborations on other projects. Thanks to Dr. Gerald Horn’s unwavering desire to improve vision through science and a chance meeting with his mentor and friend, redness-relief eye drops saw their first significant evolution in nearly half a century.