Article Date: 1/1/2009

Optometry Recognized as "Best Career" for 2009
Practice pulse TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE

Optometry Recognized as "Best Career" for 2009

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT RECOMMENDS OPTOMETRY

U.S. News & World Report, a consumer magazine that provides national and international news regarding politics, business and finance, has named optometry as one of 30 unranked "Best Careers" for 2009.

The reasons, according to the magazine's contributing editor, Marty Nemko:

► Optometrists, on average, earn more than twice as much as opticians.

► They can do most of what ophthalmologists do (i.e. diagnose and treat eye disease) and perform minor surgery (in some states) by virtue of their Doctor of Optometry degree.

► The required training is shorter — year-wise, than that of the surgical ophthalmologist.

► Aging baby boomers requiring eye care make the job prospects strong.

► The profession offers a great deal of job satisfaction because optometrists can correct most vision problems via spectacles, contact lenses or relatively minor surgery.

► The AOA projects high growth in pediatric optometry.

"Optometry is a prestigious and rewarding profession, as it not only enables one to improve a patient's quality of life through vision correction, but also affords the clinician the opportunity to focus on subspecialties, such as sports vision, contact lenses, glaucoma and low vision, among others," says optometrist Andrew S. Gurwood, of Doylestown, Pa." Would I recommend it to a perspective candidate? Yes. I have enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend it based on the fact that most new graduates that I have spoken with are living well and seem happy with their decision to enter the profession.

But given the current economic climate, will the commercial and private practices that regularly hire new O.D.s continue to do so?

"The economy is a double-edged sword that makes hiring hard to predict," Dr. Gurwood says. "The tested fact is, relative to other professions, O.D.s seem to make a profitable living with the advantage of having the flexibility in their schedule to enjoy it."

Among other healthcare jobs listed: audiologist and veterinarian.

CooperVision.com Relaunches


CooperVision recently relaunched its corporate Web site, www.CooperVision.com, which offers intuitive navigation and a search function that allows visitors to find information more quickly, says the company. The site offers a wealth of information on a number of topics including eyecare conditions, fitting tips and tools and product background. In addition, the company has enhanced its practitioner-only Web site, www.MyCooperVision.com, which provides account information, news and new modules that enable you, the practitioner, to customize and manage your online experience.

PARCA Sends Healthcare Reform Letter to President

LETTER REQUESTS LEVELING THE HEALTHCARE PLAYING FIELD.

■ The Patients' Access to Responsible Care Alliance (PARCA), which is comprised of 12 organizations, including the American Optometric Association (AOA), has sent a letter to President Obama, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Daschle and Congressional leaders, such as Ted Kennedy (D-Mass), urging the support of legislation that would prevent insurance and managed care companies from excluding non-MD/DOs from participating in their plans. PARCA sent the letter hoping the issue is adopted as part of the new President's plans for healthcare reform.

"…Optometrists and our patients see the systemic costs of discrimination against providers by health plans," says Peter H. Kehoe, O.D., AOA president. "Such discrimination defies principle, is anti-competitive in nature, denies patient choice, restricts access to care, and, in general results in a weaker health delivery system with inferior outcomes."

In the letter, PARCA states: "As you go about the important work of improving the existing employer-based reimbursement system and work to establish new protections related to pre-existing conditions, patient health status, transparency and other important features of reform, we request that you lend your support to the adoption of appropriate legislative provisions that would prevent existing healthcare plans, as well as any new federal plan, from discriminating against classes of healthcare providers with respect to plan participation, indemnification, and reimbursement based on the class of health provider and the provider's licensure or certification…"

Doing so, PARCA says, will increase access to and affordability of quality U.S. healthcare services.

PARCA is a coalition that represents the interests of millions of patients and non-MD/DO healthcare providers. The coalition is committed to quality, cost-effective care and ensuring that patients have options in the delivery of such care. As such, its purpose is to provide federal policy makers with access to information from all areas of the healthcare community, in order to assist in the formulation of responsible, well-rounded healthcare policy, PARCA says. Visit: www.accessparca.com for more information.

HEALTH Notes
OcuSoft Lid Scrub Plus, from Cynacon/OcuSoft, is effective in eradicating Demodex mites, which research has shown is a contributing factor to meibomian gland dysfunction, meibomianitis and blepharitis, among other eyelid irritations, according to a company study.

• Overnight lens immersion in a test organism may be a more accurate method of assessing the effectiveness of the rub and rinse steps of lens care when compared with direct inoculation, which is the standard FDA method, says an Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) poster. This is because the test organism has time to absorb onto the lens before testing — mimicking real-life contact lens wear. In addition, the final rinse step of the Complete MPS Easy Rub formula, prior to the patient placing the lens in eye, may significantly reduce organism contamination from potentially contaminated lens cases.

• A stereoscopic version of Pac-Man appears to help convergence insufficiency patients learn to align their eyes, according to a small York University study conducted in partnership with the University of Waterloo's School of Optometry. Patients with the condition played this version of the classic videogame 20 minutes a day for five days a week through a period of two weeks. Results revealed that as patients progressed through Pac-Man, their eye coordination improved, and some reported less eyestrain when viewing closely located objects. (Visit: www.yorku.ca/alumni/alumnimatters/jan-09/am_jan-09_eyeCoordination.php for more information.)

Acucela Inc. and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., have agreed to co-develop two ocular treatments. The first is ACU-4429, an oral, small molecule non-retinoid, which may slow the retina's ability to regenerate pigment and, thus, halt the accumulation of A2E — a retinoid-related toxic byproduct that leads to nonexudative, or "dry" age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It's currently in Phase 1 clinical development. The second: Rebamipide, an eye drop that may stabilize the tear film, improving dry-eye induced corneal and conjuncitval damage. It's currently in Phase III clinical development.

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has initiated formal preclinical development of LX7101 — a small molecule compound that may be effective in treating glaucoma, as it lowers IOP via enhancing the fluid outflow facility of the eye.

Here's Help in the Search for Optometrists

TECH TIP

■ While optometric practice home pages frequently use terms such as "eye care," "contact lenses" and "designer frames," a recent sampling of 20 private practice Web sites from the EyeCarePro database revealed that only three actually used the word "optometrist" on their home pages. "You know you're an optometrist but unless you use the word ‘optometrist’ on your home page, the search engines won't know you're an optometrist," says Daniel Rostenne, a search optimization specialist for EyeCarePro, a web site provider for optometric practices. "And if the search engines don't know you're an optometrist, that makes your site pretty hard to find when someone is searching for an ‘optometrist,’ doesn't it?"

Three Minutes to a Better Practice

WEEKLY MANAGEMENT TIP

■ Readers of OM tell us that when it comes to their practices, two things are often in short supply: time and proven management advice. Our solution is "The Optometric Management Tip of the Week."

Written by Neil B. Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., the "Tip" is a quick read — a weekly newsletter delivered to your e-mail inbox that addresses topics critical to the health of your practice. Subscriptions are available at no cost. To sign up, visit www.optometricmanagement.com.

O.D. NOTEBOOK
■ Fill out the latest OM Quick Poll at optometricmanagement.com, which asks the question: Will your practice revenues increase, decrease or remain flat in 2009?

■ The FDA has approved Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%, Allergan), a prescription therapy to enhance eyelash prominence as measured by length, thickness and darkness.

■ Alcon announced that the FDA approved the company's +3.00D add power AcrySofIQ ReSTOR intraocular lens. This new lens, which was introduced outside the United States earlier this year, is now approved in the United States for cataract surgery in patients with presbyopia.

The FDA Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of Bausch & Lomb's besifloxacin ophthalmic suspension, 0.6%, for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis. The company has developed this anti-infective drop specifically for ophthalmic use.

CooperVision announced today that its Biofinity silicone hydrogel contact lenses have been approved by the FDA for extended wear, providing indication for overnight wear for up to six nights and seven days. The extended-wear approval is effective immediately, and applies to all Biofinity monthly replacement lenses currently available.

Peg Achenbach, O.D., has joined the Vistakon Professional Development Group as senior director, professional & medical affairs. Dr. Achenbach will lead the company's Medical Affairs group and also will direct the team at The Vision Care Institute, a Johnson & Johnson Company.

The European Federation of the Contact Lens Industry has named Joseph Barr, O.D., M.S., as the 2008 recipient of the EFCLIN Award for outstanding contributions to the contact lens industry, Dr. Barr is vice president, Global Clinical & Medical Affairs and Professional Services, Vision Care for Bausch & Lomb.

■ Bausch & Lomb's Board of Directors has elected Susan A. Roberts as a corporate vice president. Ms. Roberts is the company's chief compliance officer.

Reichert appointed Edward "Ted" Newill as the company's vice president of sales and marketing. Mr. Newill will report directly to Tim Levindofske, Reichert president and CEO.

Optometry Giving Sight has named Vic Connors, O.D. as CEO of the global fundraising organization in the United States.

Briot USA has named a new management team of Tom Pfleging, president; Wanda Crawford, vice president; John Hemphill, vice president of sales and Andrew Bumerts, national sale trainer.

Carl Zeiss Vision launched Zeiss Individual, a spectacle lens that accounts for the unique interaction between a patient's prescription, frame, and face. The company also Introduced the GT2 3D, a customized version of the GT2 progressive lens. Both Zeiss Individual and Zeiss GT2 3D are manufactured using the company's patented back-surface technology.

ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc. has been named number 12 in Deloitte's prestigious Technology Fast 500 Program for North America, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications and life sciences companies.

■ An online article from WIRED Magazine listed the Paragon CRT corneal reshaping contact lens as one of the "10 Best Products Spun Off from NASA."

Carl Zeiss Vision and Transitions Optical have launched "Go Small. LIVE LARGE." Independent eye care professionals (ECPs) are invited to "go small" by dispensing GT2 Short lenses and qualifying to "LIVE LARGE" by winning cash rewards, monthly prizes, or a luxury vacation and personal assistants package. Other qualifying lenses include the new, precisely personalized Zeiss Individual progressive, and all members of the GT2 line. Visit www.GT2livelarge.com.

EyeScience Labs has made its advanced ocular nutrition line for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye syndrome available at CVS Pharmacy stores nationwide. This marks the first time EyeScience Macular Health Formula and EyeScience Dry Eye Formula are available through the retail market.

Alimera Sciences announced that enrollment has begun for a pilot study to assess the safety and efficacy of Iluvien, a fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal insert, in patients with bilateral geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Addition Technology, the maker of Intacs corneal implants for the treatment of keratoconus and myopia, has expanded its Intacs SK corneal implant product range with three new sizes.

Unilens Vision, a manufacturer and distributor of specialty contact lenses, announced the acquisition of the specialty gas permeable contact lens manufacturer Aero Contact Lens, located in Michigan. For more information, visit www.unilens.com.

■ Does the purchase of the Rose K business by Menicon have any effect on product availability, professional support, or business policies? No, says Jonathan Jacobson, general manager of global business strategy and operations for Menicon. Rose K lenses continue to be available in Boston materials from Blanchard Contact Lens and Rose K distributors throughout North America.

ASH Technologies and Eschenbach Optik of America announced that Eschenbach has been named the exclusive North American distributor of Ash Technologies’ line of video magnification products.

Transitions Optical announced the launch of the Healthy Sight Institute, an educational resource for health and vision care professionals that makes available a comprehensive range of preventive eye health and vision care information and resources. Visit www.healthysightinstitute.org for more information.

The Paraoptometric Section of the American Optometric Association is seeking nominations for the 2009 Community Service Award, given to the paraoptometric who demonstrates a commitment to helping improve his or her community and a dedication to the profession of paraoptometry. Download a nomination form at www.aoa.org/x4979.xml. Completed nomination forms should be submitted via E-mail with attachments to Joan Murphy at JVMurphy@aoa.org, or faxed to her at (314) 991-4101 by March 31, 2009.

It's About Cataract Surgery


Medical Management Services Group, a physician practice management company, introduced www.aboutcataractsurgery.com with the goal of providing "commercially unbiased patient education information in the areas of cataracts, cataract surgery, cataract surgeons, lens implants and cataract surgery centers," says the Web site. The site includes an overview of cataracts, questions to ask a cataract surgeon and a sections on presbyopia and lens implants.


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2009