Article Date: 7/1/2010

Practice pulse TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE

Optometry's Meeting Looks Toward Challenges and Awards Excellence

HEALTH CARE REFORM EFFORTS CONTINUE

■ The American Optometric Association (AOA) celebrated victories and looked ahead to challenges at the recent AOA press breakfast, held during Optometry's Meeting (the AOA Congress) in Orlando, Fla.

Immediate Past President Randolph Brooks, O.D., noted that with the Harkin Amendment, supported by the AOA, federal healthcare reform will provide O.D.s access to the more than 70 million individuals who have coverage through Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plans. Specifically, the amendment will prohibit insurers from discriminating against optometrists, among other healthcare providers (see OM May).

The association now faces its next challenge: ensuring the legislation, which will expand insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured individuals, is applied as lawmakers intended. Joe E. Ellis, O.D., AOA President, says the implementation of healthcare reform will occur through state-based health insurance exchanges. He says each exchange operates differently, and they are "all unique." To succeed, the AOA will rely on its partnership with its state affiliates "more than ever before," for an effort that's "every bit as important as state scope of practice issues." The legislation requires states to create the exchanges by 2014.

In other meeting news, the AOA announced its other officers for the coming year. In addition to Drs. Ellis and Brooks, these include: Dori Carlson, O.D., president-elect; Ron Hopping, O.D., vice president; and Mitch Munson, O.D., secretary-treasurer. Also, Andrea Thau, O.D.; David Cockrell, O.D.; Steve Loomis, O.D.; Sam Pierce, O.D.; Christopher Quinn, O.D. and Hillary Hawthorne, O.D., were elected AOA trustees.

AOA recognizes achievement

In other meeting news, the AOA presented the Distinguished Service Award to James D. Sandefur, O.D., for his "unusually significant contributions to the profession of optometry." After his graduation from the Southern College of Optometry (SCO) in 1968, Dr. Sandefur practiced optometry in Oakdale, La. until 2005. A long-time supporter of optometric education, Dr. Sandefur became an adjunct professor at SCO in 1980 where he continues to teach today.

The association presented Randall Reichle, O.D., with the Optometrist of the Year award for his outstanding services on behalf of the profession of optometry and to the visual welfare of the public. A 1976 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry, Dr. Reichle's leadership in the profession continues, as he was recently appointed to his second six-year term on the Texas Optometry Board where he serves as vice-chair.

Dr. Reichle became a founding member of a group of optometrists and ophthalmologists who, in 1982, formulated the protocols and business plan for the concept of sharing the eye care of patients, or comanagement.

The AOA recognized Sarah Marossy, O.D., as the Young Optometrist of the Year "for demonstrating remarkable leadership skill when serving the profession, patients and her community while being in practice less than 10 years." A graduate of Indiana University School of Optometry in 2000, Dr. Marossy has become both a leader in the profession and an advocate for children's vision. At the state level, Dr. Marossy helped to end optometry's discrimination by Blue Cross of Idaho in 2008.

The AOA recognized entertainer and author Tom Sullivan with the Apollo Award, the highest award presented to the general public by the association.

During the AOA House of Delegates meeting, InfantSEE presented Jeffrey Anastasio, O.D., with the Dr. W. David Sullens InfantSEE Award. A 2001 graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Anastasio and his wife, Shelly Anastasio, O.D., own Louisiana Family Eyecare in Covington, La. He has served as cochair of the Optometry Association of Louisiana's (OAL) InfantSEE Committee since 2007. Under his guidance as co-chair, the OAL's InfantSEE program has examined hundreds of infants and completed a statewide billboard program.

Hall of Fame

The National Optometry Hall of Fame announced its 2010 inductees: Alfred A. Rosenbloom, O.D., DOS and James R. Gregg, O.D., DOS, DOL, (posthumously).

Dr. Rosenbloom's 50-year career includes accomplishments as a teacher, writer, lecturer and administrator. He served as dean of the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago from 1955 to 1971 and as president of the Illinois College of Optometry from 1972 to 1982. He is considered a pioneer in the field of low vision rehabilitation, and he established low vision clinics in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

A prominent figure at the Southern California College of Optometry and a prolific writer, Dr. Gregg wrote more than 500 articles, which appeared in 200 different magazines and journals, and he wrote more than 900 newspaper columns and 15 books. His combined optometry and his love of the outdoors to become a leading writer on vision for the sportsman. He wrote the book, The Sportsman's Eye: How to Make Better Use of the Eyes in the Outdoors (Collier Books, 1974).

BILL ANNULS PAY DECREASES TO LATE

Delay in Senate Medicare Bill Costs Docs

The U.S. government will giveth, but first they'll taketh away. That was the message healthcare practitioners received when the Senate took too long to pass a bill to countermand a 21.3% decrease in Medicare reimbursements and increase reimbursements by 2.2%.
In fact, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced shortly after the bill passed that it would start processing June claims at the 21.3% decrease because it had waited for Congressional approval since May.
As we go to press, the House of Representatives is set to convene on the bill, otherwise known as the "Doc-Fix" legislation.

ABO To Select Quality Assurance Team

B+L AND LIONS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION TEAM TO CONQUER PEDIATRIC CATARACT

■ The Bausch + Lomb (B+L) Early Vision Institute and Lions Clubs International Foundation have joined forces to create the Pediatric Cataract Initiative, which aims to use each entities' resources to identify, fund and promote ways of defeating the condition worldwide.

"Overcoming the issue of pediatric cataract requires partnership. Lions Clubs International, with its 1.3 million members in more than 200 countries and with its primary service area being sight preservation and restoration, will help provide the ‘on the ground’ reach and resources to accomplish our goal," says Brent Saunders, B+L's chief executive officer.

Al Brandel, chairperson for the Lions Clubs International Foundation, adds that the new initiative has the potential to reach families and communities around the globe, both in direct funding support and the identification and extension of innovative, highly effective programs.

The Initiative was designed as a multi-year, if not multi-decade program, and its primary focus in its pilot year will be the People's Republic of China, says a B+L press release.

"The prevalence of pediatric cataract is 10 times greater in developing countries vs. developed nations. In the case of China, it afflicts approximately 40,000 children," Mr. Saunders says. "As such, we chose to start in a location most in need of assistance. Likewise, both B+L and Lions Clubs have strong, respected presences in China, which will help amplify our efforts."

The initiative in China will make grants to innovative prevention and treatment programs with two specific aims: first, to make such programs more widespread and successful in their efforts and second, to extend funded programs — as best practices — to other regions and countries, as the Pediatric Cataract Initiative expands its geographic reach, says a B+L spokesperson. Also, the eyecare company will increase its commitment to providing B+L products to institutions and doctors in support of treatment programs.

Six members currently comprise the Pediatric Cataract Initiative's global advisory council: Joseph Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O., Sean P. Donahue, M.D., Ph.D., Clare Gilbert, M.D., MSc, Gullapalli "Nag" Rao, M.D., MBBS, Ph.D., Scott Lambert, M.D. and Lipka Roy, M.D., MBA.

The Lions Clubs International Foundation will name one of its members to the advisory council this month. Visit www.PediatricCataract.org for more information.

Research Notes

Ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech, Inc.), an FDAapproved injection for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and laser treatment may result in better visual acuity in diabetic macular edema patients than the laser treatment alone, says the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network Study, in the April online issue of Ophthalmology.
Hydroxypropyl cellulose ophthalmic inserts (Lacrisert, Aton Pharma, Inc.) showed statistically significant improvements in discomfort, burning, dryness, grittiness, stinging, light sensitivity, clinical signs of keratitis, conjunctival staining and tear volume in moderate-to-severe dry eye syndrome patients, says a study in May's Eye Contact Lens. Further, mean Ocular Surface Disease Index total scores improved by 21.3%.
● Using an induction-maintenance treatment strategy that switches from a non-selective VEGF inhibitor to the selective VEGF inhibitor pegaptanib sodium (Macugen, Eyetech) may be an option for the long-term treatment of neovascular AMD, concludes results from the LEVEL study that were recently published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology online.
● The National Eye Institute is launching an ancillary study to the ongoing Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 to determine whether home monitoring with the ForeseeHome AMD Monitor (Notal Vision) leads to earlier detection of wet AMD vs. standard care and can result in better visual acuity following therapy at one year.

Devices/Drugs in the Pipeline

Tearscience, Inc., a privately held medical device company, has landed $44.5 million from investors to commercialize devices in the United States that effectively monitor and improve the essential lipid layer of the tear film in patients who suffer from chronic evaporative dry eye due to obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction, says a Tearscience, Inc.- issued press release. The company has achieved European certification, CE Mark, to market its devices in Europe and is currently seeking U.S. FDA clearance.
■ A Phase II proof-of-concept study of SAR 1118 topical ophthalmic solution (SARcode Corporation) for the treatment of aqueous-deficient dry eye revealed clear improvements in inferior corneal staining, ocular surface disease index symptom scores and tear production via Schirmer tear test at 12 weeks, with no reports of serious ocular adverse events, the company says. SAR 1118 is a small molecule lymphocyte function- associated antigen-1 antagonist.
■ A Phase III clinical trial for Iluvien, an investigational intravitreal insert for diabetic macular edema (DME), from Alimera Sciences, Inc, indicates that through 30 months, patient vision continues to improve, the company says. Specifically, at month 30, with a sample size of 123 patients, visual acuity improved by 15 letters or more in 40% of these patients. Alimera Sciences, Inc. says it will present the complete 36-month dataset after the trial concludes this October.
■ A Phase III study on the agerelated macular degeneration treatment pegaptanib sodium injection (Macugen, Eyetech, Inc.) for the treatment of DME, showed that 37% of DME patients who used the drug gained two lines, or 10 letters, of vision on the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Scale (ETDRS) eye chart at 54 weeks vs. 20% of patients who took a placebo-like drug. All patients were eligible to receive laser therapy starting at week 18 of the study at the physician's discretion using ETDRS guidelines.
■ The 12-month results of a Phase IIIb study on the combination use of verteporfin for injection (Visudyne, Novartis Pharmaceuticals) and ranibizumab injection (Lucentis, Genentech, Inc.) revealed that combining Visudyne with three Lucentis loading doses followed by further injections on a monthly asneeded basis can improve visual acuity in patients who have subfoveal choroidal neovascularization secondary to wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Inotek Pharmaceuticals has begun dosing in a multiple-dose Phase II clinical trial to assess both the efficacy and safety of the company's glaucoma eye drop INO-8875. The drop is a selective adenosine-1 receptor agonist that decreases intraocular pressure of primary open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension patients by enhancing a natural mechanism for clearing protein material that clogs the trabecular meshwork as the glaucomatous eye ages, the company says.

Research Tightens Link Between Lutein, Zeaxanthin, MPOD and Eye Health

BATTLING AGE-RELATED EYE DISEASE

■ Dietary intake of zeaxanthin and lutein may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in patients who have low levels of macular pigment optical density (MPOD), and MPOD has the potential to become a commonly tested biomarker to measure eye disease and visual function compromise risk, says a study presented by Kemin Health and Paul S. Bernstein, M.D., Ph.D., at Optometry's Meeting in Orlando, Fla.,

Specifically, the study concluded that increased MPOD levels are linked with a decreased risk for AMD and other age-related eye diseases, as high levels of MPOD may be a protective factor against blue-light-causing photooxidative damage. A total of 43% of the U.S. population has low MPOD.

Dr. Bernstein says more than two dozen published studies demonstrate zeaxanthin and lutein consumption correlate with increased MPOD. So, patients may improve their eye health by consuming more fruits and vegetables rich in the two carotenoids. Patients may also improve eye health by maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Further, supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin is "a compelling option," for those unable to make dietary and lifestyle changes, the research says.

Improvements in the methodology and equipment necessary to measure MPOD levels in a diverse population may bring about a "paradigm shift" in the way we recognize, diagnose and treat those at risk for age-related eye disease, concludes the research.

O.D. NOTEBOOK

Bausch + Lomb (B+L) officially released BioTrue, its new multi-purpose contact lens solution (MPS), at Optometry's Meeting (the annual AOA Congress). The company is marketing the solution as "inspired by the biology of your eyes." The MPS comes in a clear bottle that allows users to track how much solution remains in the bottle.
B+L has acquired the assets and U.S. rights for ganciclovir ophthalmic gel 0.15% (Zirgan), from Sirion Therapeutics. The FDA approved the topical anti-viral in 2009 for the treatment of acute herpetic keratitis.
CooperVision announced the micro-site www.armedforcescontactlenses.com, a partnership with Armed Forces Eyewear, which will provide U.S. military personnel with an affordable and convenient way to order contact lenses.
Carl Zeiss Vision announced an exclusive preferred vendor agreement with OD Excellence (ODX), a practice improvement company with more than 200 member practices. The agreement makes Carl Zeiss Vision the exclusive preferred lens partner for ODX.
◻ The Ocular Nutrition Society's Fall Educational Symposium, "From Testing to Tasting: An Integrative Approach to Full-Body Health," will take place the day before the American Academy of Optometry annual meeting, on November 16, 2010. For more information, visit www.ocularnutritionsociety.org.
VSP Global launched "VSP Global Spark," an optometric practice makeover program that includes entertaining "webisodes," tips and tutorials. For more information, visit www.vspglobal.com/spark.
Transitions Optical, Inc. has produced a new resource for eyecare professionals: "Getting Social: Social Media For Your Practice." The 12-page booklet demonstrates how to use social media to stay "top-of-mind" and is available for download through the marketing tools section of Transition Optical, Inc.'s trade portal www.transitions.com/Pro.
SynergEyes, Inc. expanded its executive management team with the appointments of Michael DeAngelo to vice president of sales, North America and David Fancher to senior vice president, Global Sales.


FDA News

■ The 1-Day Acuvue TruEye silicone hydrogel daily disposable contact lens, from Vistakon, has received FDA market clearance. The lens combines narafilcon B and Hydraclear 1, an improved formulation of the company's Hydraclear technology, Vistakon says. Further, the lens blocks more than 96% of UV-A rays and 99% of UV-B rays that reach the lens. Visit www.jnjvisioncare.com/trueye for more information.
■ Ranibizumab injection (Lucentis, Genentech, Inc.), a drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration in 2006, has received FDA approval for the treatment of macular edema following retinal vein occlusion.


Optometric Management, Issue: July 2010