Article Date: 3/1/2007

Practice Pulse

NOT D�J� VU ALL OVER AGAIN

Optometry Mulls over National Board Certification Once More

The last time optometry considered national board certification, things were different. The American Board of Optometric Practice (ABOP), which was established by the American Optometric Association (AOA) 1999, sought certification, but it had the unintended effect of creating divisiveness among optometrists and various organizations that represent O.D.s. In 2007, the newly-established Joint Board Certification Project Team (JBCPT) will not even attempt to develop board certification at first. Rather, it will ask the question, �If there would be a board certification process for Doctors of Optometry, what would it look like?� says Kevin Alexander, president-elect of the AOA.

There are other significant changes to the ABOP model as well. The JBCPT project team will not be a product solely of the AOA. It will consist of members across a number of organizations including the AOA, the American Academy of Optometry, the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and the American Optometric Student Association. JBCPT seeks a process that is �open and allows for plenty of input,� says Dr. Alexander. See �No ABOP Sequel� on this page for additional information.

A NEW MANAGED VISION PLAN

VSP Goes Directly to the Consumer

VSP Vision Care will launch a direct-to-consumer eyecare plan beginning next month. The expansion will allow VSP to enter a market that includes the self-employed, retirees and former VSP members.

Calling the plan �a major step in increasing consumer�s access to comprehensive coverage,� VSP President and CEO Rob Lynch said the plan will provide annual coverage for a complete exam and eyeglasses or contact lenses. The plan will cost enrollees about $180 to $200 a year.

VSP will market the plan through a direct-to-consumer Web site, ccaadvantage.com, Web site banner advertising on health-related Web sites, direct mail and targeted emails. According to VSP, more than 30,000 consumers expressed interest in the coverage during a pilot program in 2006.

No ABOP sequel

Randolph E. Brooks, O.D., the chair of Joint Board Certification Project Team (JBCPT), says the JBCPT will not be �ABOP 2.� He says, �We hope that all political differences will be aired and that issues will be resolved at the table.�

Dr. Brooks says that the profession is ready to consider the issue of certification �in a comprehensive, inclusive manner.�

The JBCPT�s ultimate goal is to develop a program that would be endorsed by optometric organizations. The program would be made available to O.D.s who need to demonstrate advanced clinical competence to the public, third-party payers and government agencies. �Board certification is the �common currency� of continued and advanced competence in health care,� noted a statement released by the JBCPT.

The JBCPT expects to have an actual �product� completed for evaluation within a one- to two-year time frame.

VISUAL IMPROVEMENTS OF 20%

Action Video Games Improve Visual Acuity, Researchers Say

In a study that may someday dispel warnings by physicians to cease excessive video game playing, researchers from the University of Rochester (UR), in N.Y., have found playing action video games improves visual acuity by 20%. These findings are published in a recent issue of Psychological Science.

Two aspects of vision The researchers tested two aspects of vision � acuity and region of special interaction � on 52 UR students, ages 18 to 29 who had at least 20/20 vision.

To measure acuity, the researchers showed10 avid action-game players a �T� that was either right-side-up or inverted and surrounded by a crowd of distracting symbols. Participants were then asked to say �up� or �down� after viewing each �T� for 100 milliseconds to determine the orientation of the �T.� Results showed no difference in acuity between both groups.

Researchers then assessed the region of spatial interaction, this time keeping the size of the target �T� constant (1.5x the individual subject�s acuity threshold) and adjusted the distance between two flanking �T�s (one above and one below) to find the center-to-center distance (between target and flankers). The researchers administered this test on 32 non-game-players, out of the 52 students, who trained on one of two video games (16 played an action game, while the other 16 played a non-action game as a control) for about an hour a day for one month.

Gamer results

Researchers found no improvement in region of spatial interaction when compared with one month prior to game play in the control group, while the action game players improved by about 20%. None of the participants reported side effects.

The future

So, is this 20% improvement long-term? �We don�t have any quantitative data on that question,� says Shawn Green, a UR graduate student and one of the researchers. �I think the general finding in the literature on perceptual learning is that the rate that skills decay is proportional to the amount of training (so someone who was trained on a task for five years would lose the skills less rapidly than someone who was trained for only a week). But for our specific findings, the answer is that we don�t know right now.�

Mr. Green says the group hopes to continue their research by attempting to improve crowding performance in several groups of patients with severe problems with crowded scenes. �For instance, amblyopes are known to have a very hard time with crowded scenes (the size of the their crowding region is disproportionately large compared to what would be predicted based on their acuity),� he explains. �In this vein, we�ve actually received e-mails from several parents of children with ambloypia who allowed their children to play video games while patching (presumably as an incentive to patch) who saw improvements in their children far beyond what their doctors had predicted (although obviously these e-mails have slid pretty far down the slope toward hearsay.�

1-800 Signs Long-term Supply Agreements with CL Suppliers

1-800 CONTACTS announced it recently signed long-term supply agreements with its three largest contact lens suppliers, CIBA Vision, CooperVision and Vistakon. (The company has purchased directly from Bausch & Lomb (B&L), its fourth largest supplier, without a written agreement since 2001.) �For the first time in the company�s history, we can now purchase directly, as an authorized account, every lens marketed by the four largest manufacturers,� said Jonathan Coon, Chief Executive Officer. �We believe these four manufacturers represent approximately 98% of all soft contact lenses sold in the United States.� Mr. Coon also said the company will no longer seek to amend the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA), �In its most recent session, to ensure that consumers could fill their prescriptions from the business of their choice, Congress considered legislation regarding contact lens distribution practices. We supported that legislation. However, we believe the market solution embodied in these recent supply agreements is adequate to ensure a competitive market � making legislation unnecessary at this time.�

�We expect the large amounts of our selling, general and administrative expenses that have for years been dedicated to legislative and legal initiatives will decrease,� added Brian Bethers, President of 1-800. �However, it will take time to rebuild our business with customers we have not been able to serve for several years.�

NEWS FROM SECO

CIBA Vision Opens New Plant for O2OPTIX

This summer, CIBA Vision will manufacture O2Optix contact lenses at a new plant in Johor Malaysia, Michael Kehoe, CEO of CIBA Vision told attendees at a press conference held last month during SECO International.

Production will begin at the plant in mid 2007. The plant will ship lenses internationally, although it will not ship to the United States until it receives FDA approval.

CIBA Vision is now shipping the O2Optix contact lens from its domestic plant. Henna Inam, president, CIBA Vision Americas Region, said the O2Optix �supply constraints,� due to the recent recall of the lens (see OM, February 2007, p. 15), will end in the second quarter of this year. She said the recall does not affect the new O2Optix Custom lens.

In other news released at the press conference, CIBA Vision announced that Clear Care, a hydrogen peroxide-based solution, outperformed the leading multi-purpose solutions in a recent clinical study among silicone hydrogel lens wearers.

CIBA Vision and Optometry Giving Sight announced today that Brian Spiller, currently Marketing Director for CIBA Vision Australia and New Zealand, has assumed the role of Optometry Giving Sight Corporate Fellow. OGS seeks to help those with permanent low vision and to eliminate avoidable blindness and impaired vision for people in need due to uncorrected refractive error.

OPTOMETRIST AND �YOUNG OPTOMETRIST� AWARDED

SECO International Awards Southern Optometrists

SECO International named Tom Griffith, O.D., as its Optometrist of the South, the organization�s highest honor. Susan C. Cunningham, O.D., was named Young Optometrist of the South. SECO presented both awards at its recent House of Delegates meeting. The organization also named Kathy A. Disner as the Paraoptometric of the South.

Dr. Griffith practices in St. Albans, W.V., where he specializes in low vision. He is the administrator for Vision Source and has been active in SECO and the West Virginia Optometric Association, serving in leadership roles. An avid hunter and skier, he also plays guitar in a bluegrass band.

Susan Cunningham, O.D., practices in Columbus, Miss., in a private practice with Dr. David Curtis. She has also practiced in a large private practice in Jackson, Miss., that offered primary care and LASIK surgery. An active member of the Mississippi Optometric Association, Dr. Cunningham was named Mississippi�s Young Optometrist of the Year in 2006.

Corrections

In the article, �Quantify RV Diameter� (January 2007), the figures for arteriolar diameter and venular diameter should be reversed in figure 1, page 26, and figure 4, page 28. OM apologizes for any confusion.

In �What�s New� (January 2007, p. 58),OM incorrectly reported that the FDA approved the CIBA Vision Pro-Guard Lens Case for use with the company�s Clear Care contact lens solution. The Pro-Guard case was approved for use with CIBA Vision�s AQuify multipurpose solution, not Clear Care. The Pro-Guard case should not be used with Clear Care, a one-bottle hydrogen peroxide-based solution that should always be used with the specially designed Clear Care lens case, says CIBA Vision.

O.D. Notebook

Carol Alexander, O.D., F.A.A.O., has joined Vistakon as director, professional affairs. Dr. Alexander is a private practitioner, with more than 20 years in practice. She is a past president of the Ohio Optometric Association and has also served on several national AOA committees in the areas of regulation and legislation.

Ophthonix, marketer of advanced vision correction products, announced that Stephen J. Osbaldeston has joined the company as Chief Executive Officer. In his new position Osbaldeston will be responsible for all strategic and operational activities for the company both nationally and globally.

The American Optometric Association announced the Keeping Injuries Down in Sports State Association Grant program. The grants will help fund projects that support public education andawareness of the prevention of sports-related eye injuries through the use of appropriate personal protective eyewear.

Lighthouse International now offers online CE and expanded face-to-face courses in the area of low vision for healthcare providers. Additional information can be found at www.lighthouse. org/ce.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, March is AMD Awareness month. The AAO wants to remind people that although AMD is incurable, there are new treatments that can usually recover lost vision and prevent further vision loss. The Academy encourages those older than 50 to see an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive, dilated eye examination every one to two years.

Alcon announced FDA approval of the AcrySof ReSTOR apodized diffractive aspheric intraocular lens for the visual correction of aphakia following cataract surgery in adult patients with and without presbyopia. It is the only FDA-approved presbyopia-correcting intraocular lens that incorporates aspheric optics into its design.

AIT Industries, a member of the INDO group and manufacturer of optical lab edging equipment, recently launched a new on-line commerce store, which gives customers the opportunity to order products from AIT 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

DGH Technologies, Inc. (dghkoi.com), manufacturer of pachymeters, A-Scan devices and diamond knives, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Transitions Optical named Toledo Optical Laboratory the 2006 U.S. Transitions Lab of the Year during the 11th annual Transitions Academy. In the 16-year history of the award, Toledo is the only U.S. laboratory to be chosen twice for the Lab of the Year distinction.

Sauflon USA has launched a new patient retention program, Patient Direct. With Patient Direct, patients receive a Sauflon starter kit and a pre-printed Patient Direct membership card with their contact lens supplies. Patients can then purchase their retail size solution through the Patient Direct Web site, toll-free order line or a re-order card that is included with their shipments. All profits are then returned to the prescribing practice.

Last month, sponsors introduced the bill H.R. 507, the �Vision Care for Kids Act of 2007,� which would provide vision care services for children.

Refac Optical announced that subsidiary U. S. Vision entered into an amendment to its agreement with J. C. Penney to operate retail optical departments in select J. C. Penney department stores, including off-mall locations. U.S. Vision operates 349 retail optical departments in Penney locations.

VSP has launched a company blog, vspblog.com, to promote an interchange of ideas. The blog features an RSS feed to alert subscribers to new content.

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Optometric Management, Issue: March 2007