Article Date: 9/1/2008

VSP Buys Marchon, Prompting Re-organization
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VSP Buys Marchon, Prompting Re-organization

MERGER AND ACQUISITION FOR VISION SERVICE PLAN

Rob Lynch of VSP

Al Berg of Marchon

■ Vision Service Plan (VSP) has acquired Marchon Eyewear Inc. for $735 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Marchon will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of VSP.

"Marchon is an exceptional company that offers market-leading products and services," says Rob Lynch, president and CEO of VSP. "Together, our companies create a fully integrated platform for eyecare delivery with world-class products, services and people."

The acquisition has prompted some reorganization within the not-for-profit company.

First, VSP will make its Altair Eyewear company a division of Marchon, which will be an independent entity within VSP. (Marchon manufactures and sells eyewear and sunwear for FENDI, Nautica and Calvin Klein, among other companies.) Al Berg, Marchon president, and Larry Roth, Marchon vice president, will continue in their current roles. Also, both companies will stay in their current locations.

Second, VSP will gain Marchon's 50% ownership interest in Eye Designs, a company that provides eyecare practitioners with custom interiors and merchandising systems for the dispensary.

"There's been significant consolidation in the industry's retail and whole-sale segments. Bringing together VSP and Marchon provides access to business efficiencies and greater resources that will allow for further strengthening and expansion of Marchon," says Mr. Berg. "This will help build and solidify Marchon's brand portfolio, design resources, factories and production centers, and other services that benefit all customers."

Third, VSP will merge Marchon's OfficeMate Software Solutions (ReportWriter, ExamWriter, etc.) with Eyefinity — an e-commerce, marketing and business management solutions Internet portal for the private-practice eyecare community.

"Our existing customers and all eyecare professionals can expect to see a broad range of new technologies, enhanced support services and expanded products," says Jim McGrann, president of the new practice solutions business. "We will squarely focus on developing and delivering the business solutions that help eyecare professionals easily manage the growing pace and complexities of today's eyecare business environment."

An example: OfficeMate Version 8.5 will feature the VSP-patient out-of-pocket calculator and electronic remittance advice, which facilitates the processing of vision care claims, VSP says.

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. is offering "Be The Best You Can Be," a free online educational digest that provides advice from experts on keeping eyes healthy for performance on the athletic field, in front of a computer screen or behind the wheel of a car. Also included: tips on exercises patients can do at home to strengthen their ocular muscles, advice on how to protect one's eye from ultra-violet rays and information throughout regarding Acuvue Brand Contact lenses. For a free download of the educational digest, visit www.acuvue.com/bethebestyoucanbe.

O.D. NOTEBOOK
The American Optometric Association (AOA) has appointed Rodney Peele, Esq. as the new assistant director of Regulatory Policy and Outreach in the AOA's DC-based office. Mr. Peele will be responsible for coordinating and advancing AOA federal regulatory policy, implementing and expanding optometry's outreach to federal agency policy makers and officials, and he will serve as the staff liaison to the AOA Federal Relations Committee.
Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has added three members to its National Board of Directors. They are: Brenda J. Luckritz, vice president of public affairs at Novartis; Richard C. Elias, senior vice president, optical and specialty materials for PPG (Pittsburg, Paint and Glass) Industries and CEO of Transitions Optical, Inc.; and Richard A. Meier, president and COO of Advanced Medical Optics (AMO).

Transitions Lenses Become Official Eyewear of Golf Tours

PHOTOCHROMIC LENSES TO HAVE PRESENCE AT PGA, CHAMPIONS AND NATIONWIDE TOURS.

■ Transitions Optical, Inc. has partnered with the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour for a global, four-year marketing partnership, which designates Transitions lenses as the Official eyewear of the PGA, Champions and Nationwide Tours.

(From left to right) Dave Cole, Matt Killen, professional golf instructor and swing coach; Gerald Goodman, tournament director, Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club; and Brett Craig, president, Transitions Optical.

"We look at that [the official eyewear designation] as a tremendous opportunity to get the word out and get consumers to be more and more aware of the need and the importance of healthy sight, as it not only relates to their overall health and wellness, but as it relates to sports performance…" explains Dave Cole, Transitions' managing director of the Americas.

Transitions Optical will use this designation in several ways. For example, the company has introduced a consumer education program called "Improve Your Vision, Improve Your Game." This is a Web page that includes a widget (a downloadable program) that will provide continual updates not only on items relevant to the golf tours, but information and tips to improve vision and sports performance, as related to golf. Optometrists will be able to leverage the materials offered on the page in their own patient marketing and education efforts. Visit http://enus.transitions.com/outreach/vision-game to obtain the widget. Consumers can enter to win a weekend getaway for two at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla. through this Web site.

"… What we will be doing is tying things in with the eyecare professionals, whether it's retail or the independent eyecare professionals, through the trade channel, to support what we are saying about visual quality, visual comfort and protection, and how that relates to sports performance," Mr. Cole says. "So, there will be things like point-of-sale and educational materials available to them, and hopefully we'll be making those things available through PGA Tour golf shops and be able to get the connection there."

Avid golfer Lawrence Lampert, O.D., of Boca Raton, Fla., who's developed specific sports vision programs for professionals and athletes and wrote: The Pro's Edge: Vision Training for Golf, says he generally recommends lenses with the following qualities:

► adapt to different lighting conditions and they're not too dark, enabling golfers to keep them on and read their environment.

► reduce glare, improving contrast sensitivity to help one read the greens.

► block 100% of ultra-violet A (UVA) and UVB rays, which research has shown causes and promotes cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, skin cancer around the eye and squinting — the latter of which induces premature wrinkling around the eyes.

"Basically, proper vision correction and protection means better golf," he says.

Coming to your practice in the near future…

■ You may soon be able to use a contact lens to measure corneal surface stress and intraocular pressure (IOP), say researchers at the University of California, Davis. These researchers have created a miniature pressure sensor, which they molded into the shape of a lens. The current prototype of the lens contains an opaque sensor, making vision difficult and therefore, requiring brief wear. But, the researchers say they are working on developing transparent sensors, so patients can wear them for longer periods of time, providing the continuous monitoring of IOP.

Miniature pressure sensor lens prototype.

► Two Schepens Eye Research Institute scientists have designed a wide-field telescope built completely within an ophthalmic lens. Specifically, the design employs embedded mirrors inside the carrier lens for optical pathway folding and conventional lenses, or curved mirrors, for magnification power. The ocular's short height, its position and a tiny tilt of the ocular mirror allow the low vision patient to simultaneously view the magnified image and the unmagnified image of the same area, improving orientation and navigation for driving, among other activities, the scientists say in May/June's Journal of Biomedical Optics. The design makes mass producing the telescopic magnifier as a standard ophthalmic lens blank and enabling the addition of a prescription via the standard method for grinding regular ophthalmic lenses possible. The scientists are seeking a corporate partner to manufacture the blanks.

► How would you like to look up a recent article in OM or an abstract on PubMed via your contact lens? Sound far-fetched? Not according to engineers at the University of Washington. They've been able to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and red light-emitting diodes (L.E.D.s), which do not yet light up, with the ultimate goal of providing wearers with virtual displays. The engineers hope to power the lens via a combination of radio-frequency power and solar cells attached to the lens. Rabbits wore the lenses for up to 20 minutes without any adverse effects.

Contact lens imprinted with electronic circuit and red L.E.D.s.

► An electron-multiplying charged-coupled device camera with a 512 × 512-pixel chip attached to computer software may soon enable you to detect the extent of diabetes mellitus (DM) through retinal flavoprotein autofluorescence, says a study in July's Archives of Ophthalmology.

Specifically, the practitioner flashes a blue 467-nm light onto the retina in the back of the eye. The camera then records a stronger than normal green glow, which indicates the presence of DM-infected cells. The software, via a numerical value, or score, then tells you how advanced the diabetes is. The development of flavoprotein autofluorescence technology is likely to result in a tool that will improve DM screening and disease management, the study's researchers say.

HEALTH Notes
• The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the RevitalEyes soft contact lens, from Metro Optics, for post-refractive surgery vision correction. The lens, which comes with a diagnostic kit, is made of GMA/HEMA (Hioxifilcon B) 49% water content material.
• Alcon ceased its evaluation of the benefit of anecortave acetate treatment on the risk for developing AMD-induced choroidal neovascularization. Alcon will, however, continue to study the drug as a possible IOP-reduction therapy.
• The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), with support from 1 Day Acuvue Moist contact lenses, is offering a free set (50) of "Eye Health and Allergies," an educational brochure that includes information on how eye allergies occur, their common signs and symptoms, advice on treating and preventing allergies and seasonal strategies for contact lens wearers. You can order a set, by e-mailing your name and complete address to eyeallergybrochure@rprny.com. Patients can order the brochure, along with a certificate for a free trial pair of 1 Day Acuvue Moist contact lenses at www.acuvue.com/seasons.
• Lexicon Pharmaceuticals initiated formal pre-clinical development of LX7101 — a small molecule compound that may be an effective glaucoma treatment. This is because it lowers IOP via enhancing the fluid outflow facility of the eye.

Just a Reminder…
With children going back to school, the spread of colds and infections is once again on the horizon. Some of these children's primary-care doctors will prescribe oral erythromycin. Therefore, should any of these children present to you, keep in mind that blue-yellow defects, hyperemia, photosensitivity, subconjunctival or retinal hemorrhages, hyperemia and possible myasthenia gravis exacerbation are all associated with systemic erythromycin, though nearly all of these side effects are transitory and reversible after drug discontinuance.

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



Optometric Management, Issue: September 2008