Article Date: 2/1/2008



Online/Store Contact-Lens Purchasers May Have Increased Eye-Health Risks

■ Contact-lens (CL) wearers who purchase their CLs online or at optical chain outlets or wholesale clubs may be at greater risk for ocular issues, such as corneal ulcers, than those who buy them from an eyecare practitioner, says a study published in January's Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association. The reason: They're less likely to comply with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) 11 recommendations for purchasing CLs online, the study says.

The Study's researchers came to this conclusion after assessing the answers to a questionnaire given to 151 students ages 18 to 33 who wore CLs. The results:

► A total of 86% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report obtaining an eye exam "at least once a year" vs. 70% of store buyers and 77% of online buyers.

► A total of 57% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report having him ensure proper CL fit after purchase vs. 36% of store buyers and 29% of online buyers.

► A total of 57% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report having him ensure a proper CL prescription after purchase vs. 36% of store buyers and 38% of online buyers.

► A total of 31% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report checking to make sure they didn't receive brand substitutions vs. 27% of store buyers and 27% of online buyers.

► A total of 85% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report making sure their prescription is current prior to buying vs. 75% of store buyers and 68% of online buyers.

► A total of 19% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report ordering CLs despite prescription expiration vs. 27% of store buyers and 35% of online buyers.

► A total of 72% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report making sure their ordered CL exactly matches their prescriptions vs. 72% of store buyers and 65% of online buyers.

► A total of 71% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report that his practice asks for his name and contact information vs. 69% of store buyers and 77% of online buyers.

► A total of 89% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report that they feel he's "familiar" and "reliable" vs. 92% of store buyers and 77% of online buyers.


Transitions Introduces VI Photochromic Lenses

This month, Transitions Optical is launching Transitions VI lenses, which the company says provides the most advanced photochromic technology across all major lens materials and designs.
Transitions VI lenses become "sunglass dark" outside, achieving a 12% transmission in gray and an 88% tint at 73°, the company says.
In one minute, the lenses reach 18% transmission (92% of full activation). In warmth, Transitions VI lenses get dark, attaining a 73% tint at 95°. Also, the gray lenses lighten 30% faster than Transitions Next Generation lenses, and 40% faster in brown. Finally, Transitions VI provide UV 400 protection, the company says.
Transitions VI lenses are available in standard index (1.50), Trivex (1.53.), polycarbonate (1.59), high index (1.60) and super high index (1.67). Designs include spherical, aspherical and PAL. Transitions VI lenses are compatible with all major anti-reflective coatings.

► A total of 17% who buy from an eyecare practitioner report buying their CLs without a prescription vs. 21% of store buyers and 29% of online buyers.

When asked to comment on these findings, Kevin McCallum, of 1-800 CONTACTS, said, "A number of studies show that patients do not follow doctors' orders due to the inconvenience and costs associated with refilling CL prescriptions. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, a McKinsey & Company survey showed that CL wearers used lenses longer than their doctors prescribed. In that survey, consumers cited cost and inconvenience as reasons for over-wearing their CLs," he says. "The recently announced alliance between Wal-Mart and 1-800 CONTACTS will provide CLs at a low cost and in a more convenient manner, thereby making it easier to follow their doctors recommended replacement schedule."


New Society Promotes Nutrition for Ocular Health

■ A group of O.D.s recently formed the Optometric Nutrition Society. In this Q&A, OM fills your plate with the facts by talking to the society's president, Jeffrey Anshel.

OM: Why was the Optometric Nutrition Society formed?

Dr. Anshel: The area of nutrition and vision has been growing steadily through the past 25 years. A number of concerned optometrists understand the need to separate nutrition fact from marketing hype. Doctors need to understand that the form and amount of nutrients are both important.

OM: What is the society's mission?

Dr. Anshel: To promote excellence in the care of patients with nutritional support for eye diseases and disorders through professional education and scientific investigation.

OM: What are the first steps for the society?

Dr. Anshel: The directors will meet in conjunction with the Vision Institute of Canada, which will host a conference on Nutrition and Vision in Calgary [in May]. We are developing our first membership annual meeting, but we have not formalized the date.

OM: What are the membership criteria?

Dr. Anshel: Any eyecare-related health professional is welcome. Fees [are] $100 annually, which includes access to our forums and peer-reviewed abstracts on the Web site (www.optometricnutrition, as well as discounts on meeting fees. Future plans include a full Fellowship program.

OM: Who are the Society's officers?

Dr. Anshel: Our officers are:

Vice President, George Schmidt, O.D., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Secretary, Ellen Troyer, MT MA, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Treasurer, Richard Kattouf II, O.D., Greenville, SC

Meeting Co-Chairman: Garry Kappel, O.D., Lakeview, Ore.

Meeting Co-Chairman: Paul Chris, O.D., Toronto, Ont., Canada

Research Chairman: Stuart Richer, O.D., Ph.D., North Chicago, Ill.

Education Chairman: Larry Alexander, O.D., F.A.A.O., Prospect, Ky.

Public Relations Chairman: Dennis Ruskin, O.D., F.A.A.O., Toronto, Ont., Canada

Industry Relations Chairman: Michael Geiger, O.D., New York

OM: Has the Society developed any relationships with industry?

Dr. Anshel: Several companies have agreed, in principal, to become supporting sponsors. We are looking for companies that meet very specific criteria including science that supports the formulation and manufacturing standards. Biosyntrx [an ophthalmic nutraceutical company] is our first committed sponsor.

For more information, contact the Optometric Nutrition Society at: 842 Arden Drive, Encinitas, Calif. 92024, or e-mail the organization at


Bausch & Lomb Purchases Eyeonics, Names New Chief Executive

■ Eyeonics, Inc., a relatively small, privately owned California company that has successfully competed in the premium intraocular lens (IOL) market against eyecare giants Alcon and Advanced Medical Optics (AMO), has agreed to be acquired by Bausch & Lomb (B&L).

Eyeonics is the developer and marketer of the crystalens, an accommodative IOL that, along with Alcon's ReSTOR and AMO's ReZoom mutifocal IOLs, are presbyopia-correcting lenses. Eyeonics recorded sales of approximately $34 million in 2007, doubling its 2006 sales of $17 million.

Eyeonics co-founder, chairman and CEO J. Andy Corley will now head B&L's U.S. surgical business.The acquisition marks B&L's first major move since the company was itself recently acquired by the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus. The crystalens will join B&L's large surgical business, which already includes a full line of standard IOLs and phaco equipment.

In related news, B&L has appointed Gerald Ostrov it's new chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Ostrov was company group chairman, Worldwide Vision Care, for Johnson & Johnson for eight years before leaving to pursue other opportunities. He replaces Ronald Zarrella, who will officially retire in March. Mr. Zarrella will, however, retain the position of chairman emeritus.

Special thanks to OMD's Gerald Helzner, for contributing this story.


Make Your Practice E.T.D.B.W.

by Bob Levoy, O.D.

■ Consultant Michael Hammer in his book, "The Agenda: What Every Business Must Do To Dominate The Decade," writes that companies must do better jobs of organizing themselves around the process of satisfying customers. First and foremost, he says, they have to be E.T.D.B.W. (Easy To Do Business With).

How can you be easy with whom to do business? Here's a list of possibilities to jumpstart your thinking:

Have a user-friendly Web site. "Out there on the wild, wild Web, most sites are trainwrecks that have already happened," says David Siegal, expert in Web site design and author of "Creating Killer Web Sites." "Most companies think that cool technology and hip special effects will make their sites engaging — without ever understanding their viewers' needs, interests or navigating skills."

"Does your site have too many buttons?" he asks. "Too many layers? Too many words? Too many choices? Busy wallpaper-like design in the background? Hard-to-read typefaces? Too many typefaces? Too many links? Information overload? My message on design is this: Keep it simple," he says.

Offer new-patient information on your Web site. Include a practice overview with pictures, a section with frequently asked questions and travel directions to the office.

Make it easy for patients to ask questions. Many patients are intimidated, aren't sure how to express their concerns or are afraid of looking foolish. Toward the end of the visit for example, ask patients, "Do you have any questions about anything we've discussed?"

Whenever possible, just say "yes." If a patient calls to change an appointment, even if it's at the last minute, have the receptionist just do it. A long sigh or sign of annoyance will accomplish nothing.

Schedule a staff meeting. Do this to discuss ways in which you can make your practice E.T.D.B.W. It will heighten everyone's awareness of this important strategy to differentiate your practice and give it a meaningful competitive advantage.

Follow all these tips, and you'll do a better job of organizing your practice around satisfying customers.


Add Preventative Care to Complement Your Practice

Barbara Anan Kogan, O.D.
Washington, D.C

■ In my practice, I found that orthokeratology and vision therapy (VT) services required more chair time, but offered high levels of satisfaction to demanding patients. Plus, each offered me considerably higher net practice income than conventional optometric care.

I've found that setting up a VT component requires continuing education with minimal financial investment. In addition to traditional optometric organizations, such as the American Optometric Association, educational sources include: the Optometric Extension Program, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and the College of Syntonic Optometry.

Orthokeratology, (contact lens corneal reshaping) like vision therapy, builds patient loyalty and referrals. Investments include education and a topographer. Consider these sources of education: the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association's RGP Lens Institute and the Orthokeratology Academy of America.

To create patient interest, list preventive vision care and nonsurgical vision rehabilitation services in your marketing and educational materials. Also, add questions to your patient questionnaire that would facilitate discussion of each service. Two examples:

  1. "Are you interested in non-surgical options to eliminate your nearsightedness or reduce its progression?"
  2. "Do you wear glasses to relieve visual stress at the computer?"
  3. "Which herbs and dietary supplements do you take and why?"

With these subspecialties, you can offer a 2.50D myope — who's been experiencing a 40% increase in myopia since since her 2000 exam — several nonsurgical options. These include reading glasses worn over contact lenses, an intermediate prescription for computer use, in-office vision therapy with conventional therapy and/or phototherapy.

VT and Ortho-K are two services, both established for more than 50 years, that can improve the function of patients' visual systems and build lifetime loyalty and referrals.


Chief Executive Optometrist Program Held at UPenn

Experienced O.D.s expanded their practice capabilities at the second Chief Executive Optometrist program held in Philadelphia last month. Part of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School Executive Education program, the weekend-long seminar was created in cooperation with the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Institute to provide insight on the business of optometry and help participants take their practices to the next financial level.
The program, conducted by Wharton School professors, blended business strategies and tactics from the academic world with case studies and best practices from Fortune 500 companies.
Designed for experienced O.D.s and ophthalmologists who own or hope to own practices, the program provided executive-level education to help them maximize their earning potential.
O.D.s from independent, chain and big-box practices examined their business methods and made plans for the future based on the program's focus on:
  • Critical Thinking: the essential practices of critical thinkers and using the practices to problem solve and make better decisions.
  • Leadership: the steps to gaining influence, credibility and confidence for strong practice management.
  • Marketing: branding, marketing strategies, experiential marketing and customer lifetime value.
  • Practice Management: the basics of organizational logic, covering skills, such as goal setting, communication, conflict resolution and motivation.
  • Finance: the determination your practice's financial health, cost analysis for decision making, capital acquisitions and leasing vs. buying.

For information on the next program, contact Wharton's program consultants at (215) 898-1776, or visit

Special thanks to Amy Spezio, of Eyecare Business, for contributing this story.

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2008