Article Date: 8/1/2010


Study Reveals Patient Profitability


Patients who have a separate vision plan vs. a vision plan as part of their overall health insurance are more apt to see an eyecare practitioner, reveals a National Association for Vision Care Plans (NAVCP) study.

"I am surprised by these numbers," says optometrist Mark Hennen, former chair of the American Optometric Association's Eye Care Benefits Committee, who practices in St. Paul, Minn. "We, in Minnesota, through data presented by the various health insurance companies, have found that people who have eye exam coverage imbedded in their plans are just as likely or maybe more likely to have an eye exam than those who have a single vision plan."

Dr. Hennen attributes the difference in the Minnesota data to the fact that eyecare professionals in the state "have done a good job of educating their patients on the importance of having an eye exam and then communicating this with their family practice doctors."

"I get a lot of referrals from family practice doctors telling me that their patients need to see me," he says.

Specifically, the study shows that patients with full-service, stand-alone vision plans are twice as likely (33.3%) to undergo a comprehensive eye exam than patients who have vision care as part of their major medical plan (16.3%). The study further reveals that children whose parents have standalone vision plans are more than twice as likely to undergo routine eye exams (29%) than those whose parents have vision care as part of their major medical plan (12.5%), and 36% of patients with stand-alone vision plans underwent an eye exam in consecutive years, compared with 22% of patients who had vision care as part of their major medical plan.

The study assessed the exam usage patterns of almost 85 million Americans who had vision benefits between 2008 and 2009.

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B+L Voluntarily Recalls PreserVision


■ Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has voluntarily recalled its PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS 2 Formula with Omega 3 soft gels in the United States. The reason for the voluntary recall: The company received reports — mostly from patients age 70 and older — of a choking sensation or difficulties swallowing when taking the soft gel. As a result, B+L has decided to assess the soft gel's design and will release a smaller soft gel, with a b.i.d. dosing schedule. The company says it expects to offer the redesign to customers later this year, according to a B+L press release.

Products with lot numbers 0923BK103, 0924BK103, 0924BK103A, 0925BK103A, 0926BK103A, 0927BK103A, 0928BK103A, 0929BK103A, 0930BK103A, the UPC Code 24208 62584 and an 8/31/11 expiration are affected. The company's data suggests less than 10,000 units have been purchased by consumers, and approximately 100,000 units are currently on retail shelves, says a B+L spokesperson.

To initiate the recall, the company has directly contacted both affected U.S. retailers and eyecare practitioners to inform them of how to return the product. Also, the company is asking consumers who currently have the supplement to call B+L's customer service center at (800) 553-5340 for instructions on returning the product and reimbursement for their purchase.

All other PreserVision and Ocuvite supplements, soft gels and tablets remain on the market. Undergoes Overhaul

"The website, from Art Optical Contact Lens, Inc., now offers you a series of specialty lens design calculators and fitting tools, specialty lens training webinars/videos, fitting tips, product updates and an archive of published articles on specialty lens topics. In addition, you can now clearly view the site from mobile devices, and the company is currently working on developing additional mobile features.

Circle-Tinted Contact Lenses: What You Can Do


■ In case you were wondering, Vodka eyeballing is yesterday's news. At we go to press, the disturbing trend is circle-tinted contact lenses.

These colored contact lenses make the pupil appear larger, providing the wearer with an animé-style look, much like the characters in the classic cartoon Speed Racer and most recently, like pop star Lady Gaga in her music video "Bad Romance." (Incidentally, the singer's eyes were likely computer-enhanced for this video.)

The problem: The lenses aren't Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, jeopardizing the ocular health of teenagers and young adults who've been obtaining them from overseas online retailers without a prescription, and therefore, without the care of an eyecare practitioner.

To dissuade your adolescent patients from purchasing these lenses, S. Barry Eiden, chair of the American Optometric Association's Contact Lens and Cornea section, recommends you educate your patients about the importance of a professional eye examination and contact lens-associated professional services. In addition, he says you should inform patients that contact lenses are considered medical devices and require FDA approval prior to being prescribed by a licensed eye-care professional.

"We can communicate these key issues to our patients in many ways and should consider the communication alternatives that are now very popular with the age group involved. Examples include: direct mail via newsletters, on-hold telephone information systems, website statements, blog posts and other social media communications, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.," he says. "We need to understand how this particular demographic communicates and adapt to that. However, nothing ever is more effective than face-to face communication when patients are in our examination chairs. That is the best opportunity to connect with our patients."

Prevent Blindness America Creates Center for Children


Prevent Blindness America (PBA), has created the National Center for Children's Vision and Eye Health. The Center will serve as a major resource for the establishment of a public health infrastructure to advance and promote children's vision and eye care and provide leadership development, health promotion, education and training to public and private entities throughout the United States, according to a PBA press release. The Center's creation was made possible through a multi-year cooperative agreement from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) — a bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Vision has not been a strong focus for many of the national children's programs. Some of the challenges have been lack of evidence for vision screening guidelines in the preschool-aged population," says Sandra S. Block, O.D., professor of optometry at Illinois College of Optometry and PBA Public Health Committee member. "With the success of the newborn hearing screenings, there has been a renewed interest from MCHB to address the gaps and try to make recommendations."

As part of the first phase of the Center's creation, PBA has formed the National Center for Children's Vision and Eye Health National Expert Panel, made of experts in optometry, ophthalmology, pediatrics, public health and academia, among other related fields. Shirley Russ, M.B., clinical professor of pediatrics, Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, will chair the panel, and Dr. Block and Joseph M. Miller M.D., MPH, pediatrie ophthalmologist and professor and head of ophthalmology and vision science at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine, will act as chair advisors. The panel will provide recommendations for national and statewide strategies to develop a public health infrastructure that ensures early detection of vision problems and continued eye care for children through improved quality measures, data systems and screening guidelines, a PBA press release says. Further, these professionals will serve as advisors to the Center, as it seeks to promote and ensure continued vision and eye care for U.S. children.

The panel held its first meeting in mid-July "We [the panel] examined the surveillance on children's vision issues, and a committee met to assess vision screening guidelines, so we can agree to some concrete screening guidelines that are based on evidence," says Dr. Block. "Vision is often ignored when examining child development, and it's our goal to change this mindset."

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Marchon Eyewear Goes 3D


■ Marchon Eyewear signed a global licensing agreement with RealD, a provider of 3D technology for films and consumer electronics, among other areas, to use the RealD brand for the sale of Marchon3D eyewear. Also, Marchon agreed to purchase MicroVision Optical's 3D assets to launch Marchon3D, a Marchon Eyewear subsidiary.

"… We understand that just as movie selection is a reflection of personal taste, some RealD 3D fans want a choice of 3D eyewear that fits their personal style," says Joseph Peixoto, president of Worldwide Cinema at RealD. "Marchon3D has brought a new level of fashion to RealD-branded 3D glasses."

Marchon3D will provide its RealD-compatible 3D spectacles in movie theaters through electronic manufacturers worldwide and retail and e-commerce sites. Meanwhile, Marchon Eyewear will market the 3D eyewear and prescription 3D lens directly to eyecare professionals.

The eyewear consists of patent-pending circular, polarized 3D lens technologies inserted into premium-style frames, which can be worn when viewing RealD-enabled films, compatible passive-system 3D TVs, laptops and monitors, says a Marchon Eyewear press release. Further, this new line of eyewear blocks 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

"Marchon3D has the ability to design and produce advanced eyewear with significant fashion enhancements that together produce the highest quality 3D viewing experience," says Marchon Eyewear Founder Al Berg.

Initially, piano Marchon3D eye-wear will be available. However, a photochromic and prescription 3D lens will be available early next year. Also, Marchon Eyewear will use Marchon3D's patent-pending 3D lens technology to design and market designer 3D optical and sunwear.

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How to Market GP Contact Lenses


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

■ While oxygen permeable (GP) lenses make up a small percentage of the total contact lens market, eyecare practitioners (ECPs) agree that patients who wear GP lenses are among the most loyal. This loyalty often translates into enhanced benefits for both the patient and the practice.

Fortunately, it's not difficult to get patients interested in GP lenses, says Karl J. Kaufman O.D., of Radnor, Pa. and Bradie O. Hopper, O.D., of Phoenix. Here, the two doctors present sage advice for marketing GP contact lenses.

Enhanced optics

One of the most effective techniques in marketing GP lenses is to demonstrate the enhanced optics of these lenses and to let patients know that nine out of 10 wearers adapt to GP lenses quickly, says Dr. Kaufman. In addition, he recommends that you:

► Advertise the benefits of GPs, especially bi-focal designs, in outlets that you have found effective. This will differentiate your practice from those who market only soft lenses.
► Market GP lenses to other doctors and satisfied GP patients to bring referrals into the practice.
► Explain to patients that GP lenses have a long history of good eye health, safe materials, clear vision and comfort.
► Evaluate tear film to screen candidates for successful fits. Tear break-up time should measure more than five seconds, and tear volume should have a wetting value of greater than 10mm.
► Provide current GP lens wearers with extra care to maximize referrals. For example, acquire the necessary tools to make in-office adjustments to lenses.
► Train staff. The more your staff knows about GP lenses, the more enthusiastic they'll be in front of patients. Use technicians to verify parameters, instruct patients (in areas such as lens care, wear schedules and techniques for insertion and removal), and schedule follow-up visits.
► Consult with the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association ( for the latest information on materials, parameters and applications of GP contact lenses.

Speak out

Dr. Hopper suggests optometrists promote GP lenses by speaking at meetings of local civic and religious organizations. He also recommends:

► Displaying your business cards in other doctors' offices.
► Promoting that GP lenses, stabilize the progression of myopia.
► Presenting a fashion message: GP lenses can be worn for 10 to 15 hours a day comfortably, so patients don't have to switch to eyeglasses due to end-of-day comfort issues.
► Learning how to fit today's corneal-scleral GP's.


Contact lenses accounted for most emergency room visits for medical device-associated adverse events among children, says a study in the July 26 issue of Pediatrics. The most common risk factors for CL complications were the alteration of prescribed wearing or replacement schedules and non-compliance with recommended CL wear and care regiments.
Resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound found in wine, grapes, blueberries and peanuts, among other plants, appears to inhibit neovascularization both inside and outside the eye, says July's The American Journal of Pathology.
● Intensive glycemic control and intensive combination treatment (fenofibrate and simvastatin) of dyslipidemia, but not intensive blood-pressure control in type 2 diabetes patients may decrease diabetic retinopathy progression, says the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Eye Study, published in June's New England Journal of Medicine.
● The National Eye Institute has launched an ancillary study to the ongoing Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)2. This ancillary study will assess whether home monitoring of AMD using the ForeseeHome AMD monitor, from Notal Vision, leads to earlier detection of the disease and results in better visual acuity post one year of therapy vs. standard care.

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2010