Tips, Trends & News You Can Use
New Glaucoma Benefit
More than two decades ago,
optometrists weren't in any position to diagnose or treat
glaucoma. Today however, optometrists in 45 states can treat the
disease with topical medications.
The National Institutes of Health
(NIH) estimate that almost 3 million Americans have glaucoma and
that half of these people aren't even aware of it. Of those who've
been diagnosed, about 120,000 are blind.
Now, here's some news for those of
you who do treat glaucoma: the President signed legislation
calling for the first glaucoma detection benefit under Medicare.
The new law becomes effective January 1, 2002.
The glaucoma detection provision
includes coverage of a dilated eye examination with an
intraocular pressure measurement and direct ophthalmoscopy or a
slit lamp biomicroscopic exam for people who are at the highest
risk of developing the disease. Under the law, at-risk
individuals can be examined every 2 years. About 18% of Medicare-eligible
seniors are expected to qualify for the examinations.
Another provision provides a
funding increase (14%) for the NIH. The National Eye Institute (NEI)
will receive a 13.5% budget increase.
Ophthalmology also benefited from
this legislation. A provision prevents the Secretary of Health
and Human Services from implementing a revised prospective
payment system for services before next January 1, and extends
the phase-in to 4 years. This provision is an effort to counter
large proposed cuts to ambulatory surgical center payments.
In a letter to the House of
Representatives, the American Optometric Association expressed
its satisfaction with the glaucoma eye exam benefit, noting that
the provision is an important step in preventing blindness from
Still Battling in Wisconsin
Optometrists in Wisconsin are
still battling ophthalmology for rights to perform laser
procedures. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American
Medical Association, the Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology and
the Wisconsin State Medical Society sued the Wisconsin Optometry
Examining Board and four of the O.D.s performing PRK on May 15.
"The assistant attorney
general of Wisconsin is leading the defense of the Optometry
Examining Board in trying to get the case dismissed because we
believe there is no legal basis for the suit," says
Charlotte Burns, O.D., M.S., president of the Wisconsin
Optometric Association. An injunction preventing O.D.s from
performing procedures is part of the overall lawsuit.
The Wisconsin Optometry Examining
Board withdrew its petition for rulemaking regarding lasers and
broadened the issue to optometry's scope of practice.
Says Dr. Burns, "Our focus is
the advancement of optometry with new technology and procedures,
not just lasers. The Wisconsin Optometry Examining Board
determines our scope of practice, not ophthalmology. Wisconsin's
optometry law provides for the need to expand and keep up with
new technology and the need to define our profession."
After several decades of struggle,
Dutch optometrists gained legislation allowing the use of
diagnostic drugs (mydriatics, cycloplegics, local anesthetics and
staining agents). The law was implemented November 15, 2000,
despite fierce opposition from ophthalmology. The Netherlands is
the first continental European country to achieve diagnostic drug
usage. -- Feike Grit, BSc, DSc, FCOptom, F.A.A.O.
Contact Lens Care
No Rub Approval Expanded
Alcon Laboratories has announced
that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared Opti-Free
Express Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Solution to be used without
the rubbing for all soft-lens wearing schedules.
According to Ralph Stone, Ph.D.,
Vice President Consumer Products, Research & Development,
"The approval culminates years of research to develop a lens
care product that provides high capacity disinfection and
excellent cleaning without rubbing for all wearers of soft lenses."
In the past, a manual daily
cleaning was considered to be one of the most important steps in
effective lens cleaning and disinfection. However, a survey this
past March of soft lens wearers showed that fewer than half of
the respondents claimed to rub their lenses most or all of the
"Now that clearance has been
extended to all wearing schedules for soft lenses, I foresee a
dramatic reduction in problems my patients experience that are
related to digital cleaning noncompliance," says Ken Lebow, O.D. "With No Rub
Opti-Free Express, even these noncompliant
patients can have clean, disinfected, comfortable lenses."
New Contact Lens
Keratoconus Lens Launched
Epicon, a contact lens made of
carbosilfocon and intended to help patients with keratoconus, was
launched at the recent American Academy of Optometry (AAO)
meeting in Orlando. According to its maker, Specialty UltraVision,
the lens is made of a new material that combines the comfort
benefits of soft lenses with the visual and health benefits of
In other company news, Specialty
UltraVision has completed a multi-year agreement with Nihon
Optical Corp., an optical retailer in Japan, to exclusively
manufacture, supply and co-develop disposable soft lenses
Women in Optometry Gather
Nearly 100 women O.D.s gathered
for some camaraderie on the patio of the Disney Beach Club Resort
this past December at the annual American Academy of Optometry
meeting in Orlando.
This reception served as the kick-off
event for a new group, DIVA, that has formed to help women O.D.s
network among their peers, further their careers and share their
experiences in practicing optometry.
DIVA, stands for:
In the words of the co-founders of
DIVA, Jan Jurkus, O.D., M.B.A., Carol Schwartz, O.D., M.B.A., and
Julie Ryan, O.D., F.A.A.O., DIVA members will help each other
avoid "re-inventing the wheel," and will aim to foster
mentoring of all kinds.
Earlier the day of the reception,
which was sponsored by Optometric Management, a group of female O.D.s
from all areas of the profession joined in on a rousing panel
discussion. Some topics included:
- Have women been more
successful breaking into management positions in
educational settings than in private practice?
- Will the upcoming generation
of female O.D.s change the face of leadership in our
- Are the professional
organizations addressing the needs of women?
These topics and more will be
highlighted in a supplement that OM will publish this April.
If you'd like to join DIVA, please e-mail Dr.
Jurkus at DIVA@ico.edu. We'll publish details about how
to become a part of this innovative group in an upcoming issue of
Integration Plans for CIBA Vision and Wesley Jessen
CIBA Vision and Wesley Jessen,
both units of Novartis, announced their plan for integrating
operations after the recent merger. The new entity is called CIBA
Vision, and it has a single management team and combined sales
force that began training later last month. The Wesley Jessen
name and trademark will be dissolved over time.
According to the company,
Freshlook ColorBlends Toric launched January 2, and it's the
first disposable cosmetic toric contact lens for astigmatism. It's
available in a limited range for myopia and in three colors: blue,
green and honey, with gray to follow. Free-pair and rebate offers
are accompanying the launch. Also, a new integrated Web site,
is debuting this month. And, a consumer advertising campaign
using the tagline "Just for tonight" will emphasize the
ease of eye color change. Rebates will encourage purchases of
Freshlook opaque and Focus enhan- cer lenses.
Focus Dailies daily disposables
will become a North American marketing priority with ads in teen
magazines, as well as rebates. The rebates will include a $40
manufacturing rebate and a free 5-day trial. The dollar-a-day
pricing per pair will continue in 2001. Professional education
will also debut to encourage doctors to prescribe these lenses.
Distribution of Focus Progressives
contact lenses will broaden with the help of the larger sales
force and new professional education to help doctors simplify the
Optometric Management, Issue: January 2001