Article Date: 3/1/2009

Glaucoma Screening Act Reintroduced in House of Representatives
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Glaucoma Screening Act Reintroduced in House of Representatives

BILL SEEKS TO EXPAND GLAUCOMA SCREENING COVERAGE

■ The Glaucoma Screening Act, or H.R. 186, which first made its appearance in the House of Representatives in 2007, has been reintroduced in the House. The Act seeks to amend the Medicare portion of the Social Security Act to broaden glaucoma screening coverage to include Hispanics older than age 49 who have diabetes, are deemed to be at high risk for the disease and have a family history of glaucoma.

"Given the results of the recent Los Angeles Latino Eye Study, this bill, if passed, is likely to bring attention to many of the undiagnosed cases among Latinos, an underserved population," says Leo P. Semes, professor of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) optometry school and member of The Optometric Glaucoma Society. "The study revealed that interventions that address the modifiable risk factors of eye disease may improve detection and decrease the burden of visual impairment with this high-risk minority."

Specifically, H.R. 186, sponsored by Representative José E. Serrano (D, N.Y.), directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a program that awards a grant to an eligible entity to provide glaucoma screenings to those determined to be at high risk for the eye disease. To be eligible, an entity must be located in the United States; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a U.S. territory or possession; be solely dedicated to glaucoma screenings, among other eye diseases; and submit an application to the Secretary.

Once an entity receives funds, it must, among other requirements,

► Use mobile testing units to screen for glaucoma and other eye diseases.

► Form partnerships with Federally qualified health centers to provide glaucoma screenings to high-risk individuals, those who have a family history of glaucoma and diabetics and raise awareness of the need for glaucoma screenings. (For a full list of requirements, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.186:)

In related news, the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Organization deemed March 12 as the second annual World Glaucoma Day. The day was marked by awareness and educational events organized by eyecare institutions and local support groups on every continent.

Vision Care For KIDS Act Gets Fresh Start

VISION BILL INTRODUCED IN HOUSE AND SENATE

The Vision Care for Kids Act — which has existed in some form or another since 2003 — is once again officially under consideration, though this time by both the House of Representatives (H.R. 577) and the Senate (S. 259).

"I think that the current environment, in terms of the new executive and legislative branches, and the focus on comprehensive healthcare will help us gain support for this bill," says Eve Zartman-Ball, senior director of Public Affairs & Advocacy for The Vision Council. "Also, because the bill was introduced a week into the session, we have the entire legislative calendar to move it through."

The bill seeks to create a state grant program for children's vision care. Specifically, the Secretary of Human Health and Services, based on application approval, would fill in the financial gaps of state-established vision care programs for low-income children who have been identified as having potential vision problems, lack health insurance coverage for vision care and aren't eligible to receive coverage through existing state or Federal programs. State vision care programs must provide comprehensive eye exams by a licensed O.D. or ophthalmologist; needed treatment or services post-exam to correct the identified vision problem; and create and dispense to healthcare practitioners, parents and teachers educational materials about vision problems in children.

Aside from The Vision Council, which represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry, The American Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness America, among other eyecare organizations, support the Vision Care For Kids Act 2009.

For more information on the Vision Care for Kids Act 2009, visit: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d111:1:./temp/~bdgbUp::|/bss/111search.html|. If you'd like to see the bill passed, contact your state's representatives. For a list of state representatives, visit: www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml.

Transitions Academy Honors and Educates

LAB OF THE YEAR NAMED

■ Balester Optical, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was recently named the 2008 U.S. Transitions Lab of the Year. Transitions Optical presented the award at its 13th annual Transitions Academy, held in Orlando, Fla.

Dale Parmentari, vice president, Balester, dedicated the lab award to Fritz Balester, former president and chairman of the lab, who passed away in January.

More than 1,400 attended this year's Academy, which offered education and updates on Transitions programs and tools. During the program, the company unveiled plans for growth in 2009, including expansion into the sun lens category. The company will launch its sun-wear brand at the Transitions Championship for Healthy site, a Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour event held in Tampa this month. Also, Transitions will use the event to raise awareness about the importance of healthy site, as it relates to overall health and wellness. PGA players Kenny Perry and 2008 Masters winner, Trevor Immelman were named "healthy sight embassadors" for 2009.

Other Transitions Academy events:

► A preview of its newest jungle-themed television commercial.

► A managed care vision track, which provided education and resources to promote vision care and vision wear.

► A market breakout session that offered detailed information about new Transitions programs and tools.

► A "Loyalty Challenge," facilitated by the Disney Institute.

O.D. NOTEBOOK
Sirion Therapeutics announced it has entered an agreement with Advanced Vision Research (AVR) to co-promote AVR's MacuTrition, a retinal nutritional supplement, and Sirion's NutriDox Convenience Kit for meibomian gland therapy. The Sirion sales force will also provide sampling for AVR's TheraTears line.

Carl Zeiss Vision formed a partnership with Bollé, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bushnell Outdoor Products, to promote a national prescription sunglass program throughout the Carl Zeiss Vision laboratory network.

■ A recent survey of 993 vision-corrected astigmatic consumers revealed that more than four in 10 astigmatic patients believe that their astigmatism is the reason they cannot wear contact lenses. However, two-thirds of astigmats who have never worn CLs and nearly half of those who have worn CLs in the past would be highly motivated to wear lenses, if they were available to correct astigmatism. In addition, 70% of those who have never worn lenses would be highly motivated to wear contact lenses if they were available, and if their eye care practitioner made the recommendation. The survey was conducted by Decision Analyst and sponsored by Bausch & Lomb

■ The newly redesigned Keeler Instruments Web site (www.keelerusa.com) offers more detailed product information than before and allows customers to buy instruments directly online. Special offers and promotional pricing are available online.

■ March is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology and EyeCare America, a public service program of the Academy, recommend that adults with no signs or risk factors for AMD get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40.

■ March is also Save Your Vision Month and in its honor, the American Optometric Association reminds Americans to pay attention to nutrition. Why? Because there is a strong correlation between good nutrition (lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and zinc) and the prevention of these age-related eye diseases.

■ In addition, Prevent Blindness America, declares March Workplace Vision Wellness Month in an effort to educate corporations and their employees on the importance of vision health. PBA invites companies to sign up for its "Healthy Eyes Vision Wellness Program" by visiting www.preventblindness.org or by calling (800) 331-2020.

Aton Pharma (www.atonrx.com) announced it has acquired the U.S. marketing rights to the Timoptic product line from Merck & Co. Timoptic (timolol maleate) is a non-selective beta-adrenergic receptor blocking agent indicated for the treatment of elevated intraocular pressure.

Vision Expo Creates Visionomics Business Program

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT HELP AT IVEE

■ International Vision Expo East (IVEE) has created "Visionomics," nine hours of programming to help eye care professionals (ECPs) identify business opportunities, increase efficiencies and build loyalty among customers and patients. The program will be held later this month during IVEE in New York.

Visionomics includes seven hours of COPE/ABO pending courses that cover getting paid, cost savings and efficiencies, medical eye care, building profitability and sales and communications strategies.

The program will feature keynote sessions from Paul Tiffany, a senior lecturer at the Haas School of the University of California at Berkeley and Jack Sims, the former president of Alcone Marketing.

Visit www.visionexpoeast.com for more information.

AdvaMed Updates Code of Ethics

MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY TRADE ASSOCIATION EXPANDS CODE OF ETHICS

■ The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) — the trade association for medical technology companies (i.e. companies that produce "hands-on" devices) — has updated its Code of Ethics on Interactions with Health Care Professionals.

"Nothing is more important for our industry than to maintain the public trust and the integrity of its products and services," says Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of AdvaMed. "[The updated Code of Ethics] sends a strong signal to the public and policy makers that we take seriously our responsibility for honest and ethical business practices, and that we will take action to assure the effectiveness of our Code."

Some examples of what Code-complying eyecare medical technology companies will no longer do:

► Provide or pay for any type of entertainment or recreational activities (i.e. theater, sporting events, etc.) with you or your staff regardless of their value; whether the company engages you as a speaker or consultant; or whether the entertainment or recreation is secondary to an educational purpose.

► Provide a meal as part of an entertainment or recreational event. A medical technology company may provide a meal of moderate value, however, when it's incidental to the bona fide presentation of scientific, educational or business information, and in a setting which is conducive to bona fide scientific, educational or business discussions, such as the Healthcare professional's place of business. Further, only those staff members who have a bona fide professional interest in the information may consume such meals. Spouses, guests and those not attending the information presentation aren't permitted to have the meal.

► Provide items that can be used for non-educational or non-patient-related purposes, such as an MP3 or DVD player. Also included: non-educational company-branded items (i.e. notepads, pens, etc.), and gifts (i.e. gift baskets, cookies, etc.).

► Provide single-use (i.e. consumable or disposable) products at no charge that exceed the amount necessary for the adequate evaluation of the products. Also, medical technology companies may not furnish multiple-use ("capital equipment") products for an evaluation period that exceeds what is reasonable.

Alcon Inc. has announced it will be following the updated AdvaMed Code of Ethics, which become effective July 1, 2009.

For a full view of the new Code of Ethics, visit www.advamed.org.

EYECARE LEADERS MAKE PROGRESS ON DEVELOPING ACANTHAMOEBA TESTING METHODS.
FDA Co-Sponsors Contact Lens Workshop
The American Optometric Association, American Academy of Optometry, American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists recently cosponsored a two-day workshop on microbial testing of contact lens care products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). National and international eyecare leaders as well as those from academia and industry made significant progress toward agreement on several test method parameters for testing contact lens care products for their efficacy against Acanthamoeba.
The currently recommended test methods for contact lens care products do not include Acanthamoeba as a challenge organism. Due to the apparent recent increase in Acanthamoeba. keratitis, as reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the FDA and co-sponsors held the workshop to discuss test parameters that would be important in the development of new test methods that evaluate efficacy against the eye-damaging amoeba.
"When there's a public health issue, optometrists and ophthalmologist have worked together, and that was definitely the case here," says James Saviola, O.D., the FDA's Ophthalmic Ear Nose and Throat Network Leader and one of the facilitators of the workshop's discussions. "Everyone was very focused on discussing ways to better assess the safety and efficacy of contact lens care products." (For further information, visit www.jcahpo.org/clmw.)
So, what's the next step?
"We're [FDA] working on getting the proceedings of the meeting up on our Center for Devices and Radiological Health Web site [www.fda.gov/cdrh]," says Dr. Saviola. "In addition, we plan on using the information from the workshop discussion as we develop more comprehensive FDA guidance for contact lens care products. The information will also be used as we participate with national and international standards organizations in developing new testing methods for these devices."


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2009