Article Date: 10/1/2007



Dean Discusses Need for New Optometry Schools

■ In light of the creation of several new optometry schools across the country, Optometric Management recently interviewed Elizabeth Hoppe, O.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., founding dean of Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry, located in Pomona, Calif.

Aside from Western University, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas have all jumped into the new optometry-school ring. This begs the question, why?

Several optometrists have voiced concern over the establishment of these new schools, as many believe the United States is already suffering from an oversupply of optometrists and that the establishment of new optometry schools will exacerbate the problem. Dr. Hoppe disagrees.

"One of our ultimate goals is to produce caring, compassionate and competent graduates whom practicing optometrists will want to bring into their practices as associates, or to whom our retiring colleagues will want to sell their practices. We believe that the perpetuation of private practice is an important goal that serves the public and the profession," she says.

New E-Commerce Site

The CooperVision e-commerce site, MyCooperVision, offers practitioners business tools designed to help improve fitting, profitability and efficiency. The site is available exclusively to practitioners via

MyCooperVision features online ordering, including trial lenses, and access to account information, such as shipment tracking, invoice lookup, payment history and product bank balances.

"Ensuring the supply of well-qualified new graduates ultimately helps maintain the practice value of our colleagues. In addition, Western University conducted research that showed a genuine need for a school of optometry. This research revealed that an increased demand for eye care is expected due to the aging adult population; the aging of the current optometric workforce and; state-enacted legislation requiring eye care for children; among other reasons."

Western University has submitted its initial application for accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Optometric Education (ACOE).


Armed Men Rob California Optometry Practice Occupants

■ In late August, three to four armed men entered Primary Eyecare Optometrics, in Castro Valley, Calif., absconding with money and jewelry, though neither belonged to the practice itself, according to Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Desousa, lead investigator.

"They [the armed robbers] focused on the three employees and two female customers who were in the practice at the time," he says.

Held at gunpoint

The robbers, described by the victims as black males between the ages of 18 and 25 with no distinguishing marks, entered Primary Eyecare Optometrics on the early evening of August 27 with raised semiautomatic pistols, according to the police report. (The staff of Primary Eyecare Optometrics could not be reached for comment.) They then demanded the practices' occupants relinquish their belongings.

After the occupants complied, the thieves tore electric wires from some of the practice's medical equipment, placed their victims in a back room and bound them with the wires, according to the police report.

Once the robbers fled, their victims were able to free themselves, and one of the practice's employees dialed 911.

Drinking Too Fast and Too Much Raises IOP
■ Drinking large amounts fast raises intraocular pressure (IOP), according to a study conducted by researchers at New Zealand's Auckland University.
Results showed that drinking a liter of water in 15 minutes raised IOP by 56% in patients who used pressure-relieving eye drops and 12.5% in those who underwent surgery to alleviate eye pressure.
This finding is especially significant for pub-crawlers and athletic glaucoma patients, both of whom tend to rehydrate at a fast rate. Council your borderline glaucoma patients, as large and frequent increases in IOP can accelerate disease development, says study-head Helen Danesh-Meyer, M.B., F.R.A.C.O., associate professor at the school.

"This study, as other glaucoma studies have done, enforces the fact that personal lifestyle decisions do in fact affect eye disease, and this is something we need to continue to educate our patients about," says optometrist J. James Thimons, of Fairfield, Conn. "We also need to be judicious about keeping our patient history forms up-to-date by including new questions based on evolving research."
Be sure to ask your glaucoma suspects and patients whether they've consumed an excessive amount of liquid just prior to the exam, as we now know this can affect IOP readings, he adds.

"When our officers arrived at the scene, the practice 's occupants were standing in front of the practice. After hearing the victims describe what had occurred, the police then inspected the interior of the practice and took fingerprints," says Deputy Desousa.

The interior did not appear to be ransacked and an area canvas revealed one of the stolen wallets, according to the police report.

Possible motive

After interviewing neighbors and other business-owners and employees in the area, customers in a liquor store, located about 300 feet from the optometry practice, said they remembered seeing the suspects loitering outside the liquor store just prior to the reported time of the robbery, according to the police report.

"Based on the statements of these witnesses and the fact that nothing was stolen from the practice itself, we believe the suspects may have really been targeting the liquor store, though were scared off by its large customer flow," says Deputy Desousa. " … This really looks like a crime of convenience."

Something that may help corroborate his theory: a surveillance video of that area, in which the suspects appear to be casing the liquor store. Deputy Desousa says his team is currently working on enhancing the image in the video.

"Surveillance cameras are really our best friend, in terms of helping us solve these type of cases because they provide us with a photo that we can send to other law enforcement agencies, such as the Oakland Police, for assistance," he says. "Alarm systems are great, but only if we're able to obtain finger prints. Unfortunately, in places like optometry practices, it can be difficult to get prints that belong to a suspect or suspects because so many patients are seen throughout the day." At press time, no arrests had been made.

VSP Consumer Vision Care Study Highlights


Military Eye Treatment Act Introduced

Last month, Rep. John Boozman, (R-AR), a graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, introduced the Military Eye Trauma Treatment Act of 2007 (HR 3558). The law would establish within the Department of Defense the "Center of Excellence in Prevention, Diagnosis, Mitigation, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of Military Eye Injuries."
Under the bill, the center would manage the "Military Eye Registry," a registry of information that would track the diagnosis, surgical procedure and treatment in cases of "significant eye injury incurred by a member of the armed forces while serving on active duty." The bill also call for the center to provide follow up.
To develop the registry, the center would consult with the optometric and ophthalmological specialists at the Department of Defense as well as those at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The registry would include members of the armed forces who, while on active duty, suffered: significant eye injury, including visual dysfunction related to traumatic brain injury; visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the injured eye; or peripheral vision loss (20° or less of visual field) in the injured eye.
The American Optometric Association supports the bill. AOA President Kevin L. Alexander, O.D., Ph.D., has made it a priority to encourage Congress to create a central registry for military eye injuries. At press time, the bill was referred to both the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Veteran Affairs.


M.D. Academy Launches Initiative

■ The American Academy of Ophthalmology has issued a new eye disease screening recommendation for aging adults and is launching a new public initiative called "Eye-Smart" to educate Americans about the risks for eye disease.

The Academy recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline screening at age 40. At-risk patients of any age should also be screened. Based on the initial screening results, "an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams," according to an Academy news release.

EyeSmart will provide information on age-related eye diseases to the public through www.geteye

■ Haag-Streit announced the appointment of Dr. Dominik Beck as president of Reliance Medical Products, Inc. Dr. Beck will assume these responsibilities in addition to serving as president of Haag-Streit Holding U.S., Inc. and Haag-Streit USA, Inc.
Dr. Moes Nasser of Houston, Texas, has won a $2,000 travel grant from Optometry Giving Sight, which will fund his participation in a Volunteer Project Team trip to Africa in 2008.

CooperVision announced key changes to its management structure including the following promotions: Thomas R. Shone to president, CooperVision U.S.; Steve Reiman to vice president of strategic accounts; and Mark W. Bertolin to vice president of sales development and technology. The changes are effective Nov. 1. Jeffrey A. McLean will continue as president of the Americas. Mr. McLean will also oversee distribution and packaging throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Mexico, and South America.
Ophthonix has partnered with Cleinman Performance Partners, Inc. to offer the "High Definition Meets High Performance" grant program, which provides qualifying Ophthonix practices with access to Cleinman Performance Partners' proprietary business development processes. To apply for the grant, contact Rosemary Chee at Ophthonix (858) 869-2193.
The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) has approved the Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) LASIK technologies for use on U.S. astronauts. The NASA decision was made following a review of military clinical data using AMO's Advanced CustomVue LASIK with the IntraLase method.
Bausch & Lomb (B&L) shareholders recently voted to approve the proposed merger with affiliates of Warburg Pincus LLC. The transaction is expected to close early in the fourth quarter, according to B&L. In other news, B&L has been placed on Hispanic Business Magazine's Diversity Elite 2007 list.
Marchon Eyewear will become a Platinum National Sponsor of Optometry Giving Sight in the United States.

The white lab coat will soon be garb of the past for U.K. physicians, says the BBC. The report called the white coat a "harbinger of infection." Physicians are now encouraged to wear short sleeves and wash to the elbows.

Optometric Management, Issue: October 2007