Article Date: 11/1/2007

LAW TO IMPROVE VISION CARE FOR CHILDREN NOW RESTS IN SENATE'S HANDS.
Practice pulse

LAW TO IMPROVE VISION CARE FOR CHILDREN NOW RESTS IN SENATE'S HANDS.

U.S. House Approves Vision Care For Kids Act

TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE

■ In mid October, the House of Representatives passed the Vision Care for Kids Act of 2007 (H.R. 507). The Act seeks to establish a federal grant program that focuses on treatment, boosts children's vision initiatives throughout the United States and galvanizes children's vision partnerships with non-profit organizations, such as state optometric associations.

Act specifics

Specifically, H.R. 507 directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to bestow $65 million in grant funding to enable children, especially those under the age of nine who are known to be at risk for vision problems, to acquire comprehensive eye exams and appropriate care from their local eyecare provider. In addition, the grant money would go toward public education and awareness efforts that promote early detection and treatment of vision problems.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is currently reviewing the Senate companion bill to HR 507, known as S. 1117. Since there's no timetable for consideration of the bill or any guarantee that it will even be taken up, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has begun a renewed grass roots lobbying effort targeting key senators and urging that children's vision funding legislation be approved and sent to the President Bush.

The Outcome

So, how many more visits can you expect, should this act become a law?

"This Act is not about increasing practice revenue," says Vince Brandys, O.D., director of professional relations at the Illinois College of Optometry and former legislative chairman for the Illinois Optometric Association. "It's about ensuring that each and every American child has a chance at a good education by receiving a comprehensive vision exam."

Related News

In related news, Illinois has become the third state, behind Ken-tucky and Missouri, to require eye exams for children entering public schools. One difference: The law, known as SB 641, also requires all children entering private or parochial elementary schools to undergo a comprehensive vision exam.

The law, which takes effect as of January 1, 2008, requires all kindergartners starting school in the fall and all students enrolling in an Illinois school for the first time to undergo a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist within one year prior to beginning school.

Further, parents and/or guardians of the aforementioned students must submit proof of the eye exam by October 15. (October 15th is the deadline for all future new students as well.) If the child's parent or guardian doesn't submit proof by this deadline, the superintendent has the right to withhold the child's report card until the parent and/or guardian can provide proof that they've made arrangements for the child to undergo the exam, and they provide the exam results to the superintendent.

Finally, school authorities may require additional eye exams, when deemed necessary, at various grade levels. (All Illinois children in grades above kindergarten undergo periodic school vision screenings. Should any of them fail the vision screening and the parents do not contact an eyecare practitioner to further evaluate the problem, the superintendent can order a comprehensive vision exam.)

Many of these details are subject to rule making by the Illinois Department of Health. This will take place over the next six months, and the Illinois Optometric Association will have input.

NATIONAL SURVEY FINDINGS PROMPTED CAMPAIGN

AMO Launches Contact Lens Cleaning Campaign

■ Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) has launched Elevate Your Eye (EYE) Care, a global educational campaign that seeks to teach contact-lens wearers about the importance of proper lens-cleaning techniques. The goal of the campaign: to help patients maximize the benefits of contact-lens wear while decreasing the likelihood of infection, the company says.

EYE Care was developed in response to concerns over the results of a national survey that revealed contact-lens wearers may not be practicing healthy lens-care habits, AMO says. The Contact Lens Council (CLC), a nonprofit educational resource on vision correction for consumers, conducted the survey called "Eye on Innovations." Some of its findings:

► Despite the fact that more than 90% of eyecare practitioners (ECPs) recommend rubbing contact lenses as part of the cleaning regimen, regardless of solution type, more than one third of patients do not.

► More than 44% of contact-lens wearers always or occasionally top off (re-use) their contact lens solution.

The results were based on answers given by a total of 500 men and women between the ages of 18 to 65 and surveys 298 ECPs filled out.

Nearly half of all contact-lens wearers are between 18- and 34 years old, according to Simmons Market Research. As a result, AMO selected 21-year-old Lauren Conrad, a contact-lens wearer and star of the MTV reality series, "The Hills," to be EYE Care's spokesperson. Ms. Conrad will be participating in AMO's media tour in New York (radio, etc.), and the company is currently working on coordinating other events in which she may participate.

For more information on the EYE Care campaign, visit www.yourhealthyeyes.com.

MISSED CONNECTION BETWEEN SIGHT AND HEALTH

Vison Care Plans Need Consumer Push

■ A new paper identifies what many eyecare professionals (ECPs) suspect: When it comes to employee benefits packages, vision care receives less emphasis than dental and other health benefits.

"Addressing the Need for Education on the Value of Vision Care Plans," a consensus paper released by the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP) and Transitions Optical, stresses the need to educate consumers and human resource professionals on the importance of regular eye care and quality vision wear in achieving overall health and wellness.

The paper reports that consumers do not associate vision care with overall health. It shared strategies to strengthen the awareness of the health-related aspects of the eye exam, such as including a blood pressure measurement to show the link between hypertension and eye disease, or by changing the language of the eye exam (using the term "eye health exam" instead of "eye exam" for example).

Corrections and Clarifications
□ In the continuing education article "Strategic Skill Builders" (August, p. 56),the table listing product specifications has transposed information on Dk/t for the CIBA Vision NIGHT & DAY, O2OPTIX and O2OPTIX Custom contact lenses: N&D has the highest available Dk/t at 175; O2OPTIX is 138 and O2OPTIX Custom is 117.
□ In the continuing education supplement, "Comprehensive Management of the Ocular Surface," (September 2007, p.13) we incorrectly stated how many ocular allergy prescriptions are written by primary care physicians in the article "Evolutions in Ocular Allergy." A Gallup study in 2005 showed that 70% (not 30%) of ocular allergy prescriptions are written by primary care physicians.

The paper can be downloaded at NAVCP.org or Transitions.com.

O.D. NOTEBOOK
Alcon joined with Prevent Blindness
America facilitated more than 400 complimentary eye screenings, testing acuity and visual fields, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Bausch & Lomb has achieved a perfect score for the fifth consecutive year in the annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a nationwide business ranking sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The CEI rates companies on how they treat gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

VSP Vision Care announced the purchase of Legends 4.0 optical laboratory, Lewisville, TX. It becomes VSP's third wholly-owned lab.

Joseph Andera, retired past president of Stereo Optical Chicago, Ill., passed quietly at his home in Cape Coral, Fl., in September after a long illness due to complications brought on by diabetes and heart disease.

ISTA Pharmaceuticals licensed exclusive North American rights to nasal dosage forms of bepotastine, an investigational product for the treatment of allergy symptoms, from Tanabe Seiyaku Co., Ltd.

Eyefinity (eyefinity.com) announced its latest Best Practices guide called "Practice Made Perfect, An Eight Step Guide to Profitable Eyewear." This practical guide discusses specific steps that ECPs can implement to improve their capture rate and increase their lens sales.

Research: one-hour application of topical gatifloxacin appears to be as effective as a one-day application in eliminating conjunctival bacteria flora in intraocular surgery patients, according to an abstract presented at the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (Prospective Comparison of 1-day vs 1-hour Pre-Operative Topical Gatifloxacin Prophylaxis for Intraocular Surgeries, Ta, et al.)

□ VSP Vision Care has launched its "Mobile Eyes" Program, a mobile clinic with the capabilities for comprehensive eye exams. The 40-foot clinic features 10 lanes of portable exam equipment, two exam rooms and a full dispensary, used for providing services and materials during disaster relief. The clinic will also travel to community events and provide charitable eyecare services.

SECO announced the recipients of its three prestigious 2007 Southern Council of Optometrists Clinical Excellence Awards: Haley S. Parker of the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham School of Optometry; Tara Boyle from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Cayce Davis of Southern College of Optometry (SCO), Memphis, Tenn.

Corrections
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PILOT CONTRACT PROGRAM LAUNCHED

AOA Offers Members Contract Analysis

■ The American Optometric Association (AOA) is now offering its members a free Contract Analysis service. The AOA Office of Counsel will provide a licensed attorney who has expertise in reviewing prospective, unsigned managed-care plan contracts and commercial employment contracts. This is to help members understand the provisions of what are often complex and lengthy contract documents.

How it works

Submit your contract via mail or fax, along with an analysis request form, all of which you can obtain at www.aoa.org/contractanalysis.xml, to the AOA Office of Counsel. You can also submit the contract by e-mail through the AOA Web site.

An AOA attorney will then return a written explanation and analysis of the terms and provisions within the contract, including information about items that may require further explanation, such as professional liability insurance, in two weeks.

THE SEVEN COURSES:
SEVEN COURSES EDUCATE STAFF ON BASICS OF EYE CARE

CooperVision's Online Learning Center's New Track
CooperVision has added the "New to Eyecare" track to its free Online Learning Center. The track, which includes seven courses, is designed to help a staff member who's new to eye care.

Basic Ocular Anatomy. This course provides a basic understanding of the visual system.
Basic Optics. This course provides an overview of general optical principals, so a staff member can achieve a greater understanding of core correction concepts.
Contact Lenses. This course instructs a staff person on corrective options in this modality, so they can accurately communicate this information to current and potential contact-lens wearers.
Fundamentals of Instrumentation. This course provides a brief overview of common ophthalmic instruments, such as the slit lamp, and their uses.
Nomenclature. This course provides information on common procedures, diseases and correction option terms to increase a staff member's accuracy and comfort when using eyecare vocabulary.
Patient Instruction. This course teaches a staff member how to best communicate with patients when providing instruction for ophthalmic devices.
Telephone. This course helps a staff person master phone skills with patients and provides education on scheduling appointments and communicating accurately with other staff members.
To access the "New to Eyecare" track, go to http://learning.coopervision.com.

The attorney will not, however, act as the member's personal attorney, nor make recommendations regarding whether you should sign the contract.

Why now?

Contracts are not new to optometry, which begs the question, "why offer this service now?"

"There was a general sense that the AOA needs to be more responsive to member needs in two critical areas. Members have been asking the AOA to do something to help them in dealing with managed care and commercial employment contracts, and we are responding to those requests," says Lance Plunkett, AOA general counsel.



Optometric Management, Issue: November 2007