Article Date: 8/1/2011



Contact Lens Pioneer Leaves Legacy

■ When eye doctors informed Newton K. Wesley that his keratoconus would render him blind, he became determined to find a cure. Through this quest, the Westport, Ore. native — born to immigrant Japanese parents — became one of the leading creators and manufacturers of contact lenses, say those who knew and worked with him. Dr. Wesley, age 93, died July 21, 2011 of congestive heart failure in Freeport, Ill.

“Dr. Newton Wesley was a pioneer in the field of contact lenses — particularly in orthokeratology — and much of the industry as we know it today was built on what he achieved, and the vision he had for the contact lens field,” says Neil Hodur, O.D., a colleague and friend of Dr. Wesley and current professor of optometry at the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.

Born Newton Uyesugi (he changed his name for business reasons, according to the Chicago Tribune), Dr. Wesley enrolled at what is known today as the College of Optometry at Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Oregon. Upon graduating in 1939, he opened a private practice in Portland and then returned to his alma mater to operate the school with fellow optometrist Roy Clunes.

In 1942 — at the height of World War II and one year after he married his late wife, Cecilia — Dr. Wesley, his wife and two sons were sent to the Minidoka War Relocation Center — an American internment camp for the Japanese — in Jerome County, Idaho, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Wesley received permission to leave the camp to study chemistry at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. When World War II ended, he was able to reunite with his family, and he relocated them to Chicago, where he took a teaching job at the Monroe College of Optometry — now, the Illinois College of Optometry. During this time, he also began working in a Chicago apartment basement with fellow optometrist, George Jessen, on the creation of a small, plastic contact lens that would enable longer and more comfortable wear times than the then currently available glass contact lenses. Dr. Wesley had tried these glass lenses himself and found that while they restored normal vision, they were far too uncomfortable to wear for more than a short period of time. The optometrists' work led to the development of rigid contact lenses. These lenses enabled Dr. Wesley to preserve his vision, his son, Roy, told the Chicago Tribune.

Shortly thereafter, Drs. Wesley and Jessen formed the Plastic Lens Company, which later morphed into Wesley-Jessen, VisionCare Inc. The company manufactured and sold the rigid contact lenses, though it took an aggressive marketing campaign to get the 1950s public to buy that the lens was safe, according to the Chicago Tribune. In fact, Dr. Wesley traveled the country touting the lens and even used a rabbit named Leo to demonstrate fitting. CIBA Vision purchased Wesley-Jessen, VisionCare Inc. in 2000.

“ … With Dr. Wesley's leadership, contact lenses became a widely accepted vision correction option to millions of people around the world,” says Dwight Akerman, O.D., F.A.A.O., CIBA Vision's director of Professional Programs & Advocate Development, who also worked at Wesley Jessen for more than 10 years.

Dr. Wesley is also credited with training doctors in Europe and Asia, getting “contact lenses” into the dictionary and founding the National Eye Research Foundation (NERF) in Northbrook, Ill., where he trained doctors in contact lens fitting through regional and national meetings. This is where he met and worked with Dr. Hodur. In addition, he oversaw NERF's journal Contacto.

“Dr. Wesley always used to tell this great story about Dick Butkus [former Chicago Bear middle linebackers] wearing the RGP lens he invented,” says Michael Huang, a former editorial director for Contacto and current sports writer. “During a game at which Dr. Wesley was on the sidelines, Butkus shouts from the field, ‘Dr. Wesley, my contact lens fell on the ground. What do I do?’ Dr. Wesley replies, ‘you'll have to stick it in your mouth because I don't have anything to wash it with right now.’ So, Butkus sticks it in his mouth, shouts an expletive and says, ‘I swallowed it!’ Needless to say, he ended up playing the rest of the game without it.”

Newton K. Wesley O.D., M.D., Sc.D, Ph.D, is survived by his wife, Sandra; three daughters, four sons, five grandchildren and three great grand-children, according to the Chicago Tribune.


Survey Finds Many Dry Eye Sufferers Are Challenged to Find Relief

■ A total of 69% of U.S. adults who regularly experience one or more dry eye symptoms have not visited an eyecare professional (ECP) for relief, says a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Allergan. In addition, the survey of 2,411 adults (aged 18 or older) found that of those who did visit an ECP, 19% said they had to go more than once for relief, and 22% say they're still suffering.

Specifically, nearly one in five surveyed (19%) reported using over-the-counter drops at least five times a week to treat symptoms. Yet 63% said the drops were only somewhat or not at all successful. And 48% of OTC-drop users said their ECP or pharmacist influenced their selection.

Other findings: A total of 43% experienced difficulty reading due to their dry eye symptoms; 48% of adults (52% female) said they experienced regular dry eye symptoms; 42% of women aged 45 to 54 who suffer from dry eye symptoms said they experienced blurred vision; and women were more likely than men (62% vs. 44%) to report difficulty using the computer due to their dry eye symptoms.


Transitions Offers Free Online Marketing Tool

■ Ever wonder whether your practice marketing is as focused as it could and should be to yield you the highest possible return on your marketing dollars? If you answered “yes,” then Transitions Optical, Inc.'s free-of-charge online program, the Market Area Profile (MAP) may benefit your practice.

The MAP program assists eyecare practitioners (ECPs) in identifying the key consumer segments in their geographic areas, these consumers' vision needs and purchasing behaviors, so ECPs can streamline their marketing efforts. In addition, the program provides insight into the competitive landscape of the trade area, so ECPs can create marketing tactics to stand out from the competition, the company says.

“ … Demographics, like ethnicity, age and lifestyle, all influence the amount and type of vision products and services consumed,” says Transitions Optical, Inc.'s senior marketing specialist for ECP communications, Dana Reid. “Understanding which target audiences are prominent in the area where they practice, and the opportunities associated, can help eyecare professionals customize their outreach to these groups, which is a more effective way to reach them than a one-size-fits all approach.”

If you're interested in accessing the MAP program, from Transitions Optical, Inc., visit


PECAA Emphasizes Leadership and Social Media

■ “You are the CEO of your practice. Ultimately, you have the vision and set the direction for the future success of your business.” That was the theme of the fourth annual meeting of the Professional Eye Care Associates of America (PECAA), held recently in Sunriver, Ore. The alliance group, comprised of independent optometrists and ophthalmologists, offered a variety of presentations around the leadership theme.

Eric George, president of Stockman Asset Management, an advisory firm specializing in equity and fixed income investment management, recommended that PECAA members take advantage of web marketing and social media tools, among other business management resources.

At the meeting, members agreed that corporate optometry and online competition are carving away at the independent optometrist's market share. PECAA members agreed that to compete, independent doctors must establish e-commerce solutions that meet the needs of their practices. (PECAA has, in fact, created a network of custom websites for their members with e-commerce and social media portals.)

Members also acknowledged that managed care continues to dictate the compensation structure of practices. PECAA leaders urged members to find ways to become a part of an equitable solution rather than being swept under by low reimbursements.

PECAA allows its members to access all its services for a flat fee, rather than a percentage of practice revenue. This provides benefits for all eyecare professionals, including those who manage smaller practices, which “would not have the resources that PECAA provides,” says Michael Chow, O.D., M.B.A., Northwest Eye Care Network, Bellevue, Wash.

For more information, visit the PECAA website at

Essilor Launches
The website, from Essilor of America, Inc. is a resource for eyecare practitioners (ECPs) and their patients regarding the benefits and importance of no-glare lenses, the company says. The site offers eight training videos for ECPs that feature real-life situations to illustrate the benefits of no-glare lenses to both children and adults. ECPs who correctly answer multiple choice questions at the end of each video will receive a certificate from Essilor stating that they have completed the No-Glare training program. The registration is free. To learn more about No-Glare lenses or access the training videos, visit

What Can Your Practice Learn From a Tire Shop?
John Shan, O.D., North Hills, Calif.

One tire shop has won my business — America's Tire Company in Pasadena, Calif. Fast, efficient and attentive, the staff makes the customer feel that he is the center of attention. These professionals inspired me to ask: Was my staff treating patients as well as the “tire guys” down the road?
After jotting down a few observations, I found that my pleasurable experience wasn't the result of any one action, but a collection of small gestures that made me feel taken care of. I believe that these gestures, which I've listed below, can be incorporated into any optometric practice to create a stellar patient experience.
1. Meet and greet. From the second you walk into the tire center, someone looks up, says hello with a great smile and asks, “How can I help you?” Compare that greeting to one in which the patient walks up to a receptionist who, while on the phone, raises and index finger and makes the patient wait until the call is over.
First impressions are important, so strive to make patients feel special the minute they walk in the door.
2. Acknowledge the value of your patient's time. When my appointment took 30 minutes longer than expected, the technician greeted me, acknowledged the center was running behind and even offered a 10% discount. It begs the question: Does your receptionist inform waiting patients that appointments are running behind, or does she sheepishly hide, hoping the patient doesn't get upset or make a fuss?
3. Train your staff to be great multitaskers. Even though the tire center served 15 customers during my hour-long wait, each member of the staff cheerfully changed tires, answered the phone (in no more than two rings) and processed payments, all while making each customer feel that he/she was the only customer in the center. The lesson: If they don't already do so, train staff to multitask so that they keep operations moving.
4. Thank your patients. After I checked out, the technician thanked me for choosing his center, acknowledging that I had many choices for service. Wow. What a way to end a great experience on an even higher note. I left with a brand new set of tires, as well as a smile and a good mood to start my day.
We have that same power to make patients feel good about making the right decision to see us.
Interestingly, I found that my experiences at the tire center weren't so unique — in fact, they held true to the company's values and vision statement. (You can read the complete statement at
Looking back on my experience, I was left with one last question: Are we half as passionate and focused on taking care of our patients as this tire shop cares for its customers? I sure hope so.

In the July 2011 issue of Optometric Management (PULSE: “AOA Motion Would Allow ACOE to Accredit CE Providers”) Craig Steinberg, O.D., J.D., was incorrectly listed as an AOA member. We apologize for the error.

Eye conditions (e.g. chalazion, pterygium); inflammatory diseases (e.g. gastritis, peptic ulcer, asthma, arthropathy, and ulcerative colitis); psychologic conditions (e.g. anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, neuroses and depression); hormonal conditions (e.g. hypothyroidism and prostatic hypertrophy) and cardiovascular diseases (e.g. carotid artery disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and ischemic heart disease) appear more prevalent among blepharitis patients, says June's Ophthalmology. The strongest link: chalazia and blepharitis.

Canaloplasty demonstrated significant and sustained intraocular pressure (IOP) reductions and an excellent short- and long-term safety profile in adult open-angle glaucoma patients, says July's Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. Specifically, canaloplasty eyes showed a mean baseline IOP of 23.0mmHg ± 4.3mmHg and mean glaucoma medication usage of 1.9 ± 0.7 medications, which reduced to a mean IOP of 15.1mmHg ± 3mmHg on 0.9 ± 0.9 medications at three-years postoperatively. Combined cataract-canaloplasty surgery eyes showed a mean baseline IOP of 24.3mmHg ± 6.0mmHg on 1.5 ± 1.2 medications, which reduced to a mean IOP of 13.8mmHg ± 3.2mmHg on 0.5 ± 0.7 medications at three years.

Bausch + Lomb is conducting a voluntary recall of a single lot (Lot #507521) of Murocel Methylcellulose Lubricant Ophthalmic Solution USP 1%, which is available only in the United States. The recall is based on routine testing, which showed the single lot was out of specification for preservative efficacy. There have been no adverse events reported, which have been attributed to the single product lot being out-of-specification for preservative efficacy, according to the manufacturer. Instructions on returning and reimbursement can be found by calling (800) 553-5340.
Global EyeVentures announced that its EyeXam iPhone app exceeded one million downloads and is now available for iPad. EyeXam features a self-guided method for assessing one's own visual acuity, and includes color vision plates, an Amsler grid and information about eyecare products. The app is sponsored by industry companies, including Alcon, All About Vision, Crystalens (Bausch + Lomb), Focus Laboratories, Vision Service Plan and Vision Source. EyeXam can be downloaded from the iTunes store.
VSP has launched, a site where consumers can purchase contact lenses, browse sunwear and connect to a VSP provider. The online optical store will pay VSP doctors for providing support services for online purchases. For questions on Eyeconic, call 1-855-EYECONIC, or e-mail
Transitions Optical has announced it will hold an “Eyecare Practice of the Year” awards program where up to three finalists will be recognized for actively promoting healthy sight to their patients and within their local communities. One finalist will be named “Eyecare Practice of the Year” during Transitions Academy in January. For information, visit
■ More than 100 dry eye patients attended the recent National Dry Eye Patient Conference, sponsored by the Sjogrens Syndrome Association and hosted at the Ora Clinical Research Center. The seminar included speakers Michael A. Lemp, M.D., David Evans, O.D., Gail Torkildsen, M.D., John Pietrantonio, O.D., and George Ousler, vice president of Dry Eye Research at Ora. More information is available at
■ Nine schools and colleges of optometry have received diversity mini-grants through the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry's 2011 Optometric Education Diversity Mini-Grant Program, which is supported by Luxottica Retail and The Vision Care Institute. The grants provide seed money for schools that have longterm diversity efforts. For information, visit, and click on “diversity.”
Prevent Blindness America launched the “Most Beautiful Eyes Contest,” which allows children across the United States the chance to become the face of the Star Pupils program in 2012 and win a $25,000 scholarship. Parents of children ages zero to 17 can enter their child by submitting a photo to
Optos announced that its ultrawidefield retinal imaging product line has captured images for 30 million Optomap patients. The 30 millionth patient image was captured by the practice of Albright & Schnulo Family Eye Care in Worthington, Ohio.
Practice Maximus recently was certified by Drummond Group as a complete EHR software system. For information, visit

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2011