Article Date: 4/1/2001

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

What the Top Contact Lens Fitters Say

An independent survey of more than 3,000 of the top contact lens fitters in the United States revealed some interesting information about managing myopia in school-age children with rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs).

Of the 10,000 surveys sent by the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association, 33%, or 3,300, were completed. Here's what these practitioners had to say:


Glaucoma Drug to Benefit African Americans and others

The FDA has approved Alcon's travoprost ophthalmic solution, 0.004% (Travatan) for lowering IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

In studies of more than 1,800 people who used Travatan once a day in the evening for up to 12 months, this new prostaglandin analog lowered IOP up to 9 mm Hg or up to 33%. Used along with timolol 0.5%, Travatan reduced IOP by 7 mm Hg in patients who weren't controlled by timolol alone. Although Travatan showed excellent efficacy in all patient groups studied, it's the first glaucoma drug to demonstrate greater effectiveness in African-American patients.

New Monthly Soft Toric Lens

Specialty UltraVision recently launched its new monthly replacement soft toric Specialty T-FRP.

Made of ocufilcon A, these lenses have a thin edge and light prism ballast for better comfort and stability. Parameters include aspheric base curve (8.9 mm), 14.5-mm diameter, 8.00-mm minimum optic zone, sphere powers from +3.00D to -8.00D in 0.25D steps, cylinder powers of -1.00D, -1.50D and -2.00D and around-the-clock axes in 10-degree steps.

Two New Glaucoma Treatments Approved

Allergan received FDA approval for two glaucoma therapies -- bimatoprost ophthalmic solution, 0.03% (Lumigan) and brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic solution, 0.15% (Alphagan P). Both are indicated for lowering IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

When it was compared with timolol twice daily, Lumigan (the first synthetic prostamide) dosed once a day helped 64% of patients achieve target IOP of 17 mm Hg or lower. Patients on timolol achieved this IOP or lower in only 37% of cases.

At 6 months, patients taking Lumigan experienced a 33% reduction in IOP (a drop of 8.1 mm Hg) compared with patients who took timolol whose IOP dropped by 23% (5.6 mm Hg).

Alphagan P, an alpha2-adrenergic agonist with the same active ingredient as Alphagan, is similar to Alphagan in effectiveness, but Alphagan P has a lower incidence of certain adverse effects.

Lens for Astigmatic Presbyopes

Blanchard Contact Lens, Inc., recently received FDA market clearance and launched its new ESSential Soft Toric Multifocal lens. The lens has already demonstrated benefits for astigmatic presbyopes, according to the manufacturer.

The lens is manufactured in hioxifilcon B. It features base curves of 8.8 mm, 8.4 mm and 8.2 mm with diameters of 14.8 mm, 14.5 mm and 14.0 mm, respectively. Cylinder correction ranges from -0.75D to -3.00D, spherical correction from -8.50D to +6.50D and add corrections up to +2.75D.

HED: Lens Benefits Seasonal Allergy Sufferers

Focus Dailies, CIBA Vision's single-use lenses, can now claim to be the only contact lens that can help those suffering from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) to experience fewer days of burning and redness if they wear the lens versus their usual lenses.

FDA designated Focus Dailies as the only contact lens that can make this claim after reviewing research results from 112 patients who suffer from SAC. The research showed Focus Dailies wearers:

The study was conducted in 10 cities across the United States at the height of the allergy season last spring.


Former director of ColorMax dies. Dr. K. Michael Larkin, a director of ColorMax Technologies until his resignation in January, was fatally injured last month in a multi-vehicle accident.

Dr. Larkin was well known as an optometrist, teacher, author and inventor and was instrumental in the development of ColorMax's lenses for color-deficient people. He was also assistant professor and clinical instructor in the department of ocular disease at the Southern California College of Optometry from 1978 up until the time of his death. He was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

Safilo promotions. Dick Russo, a 30-year veteran of Safilo USA, has recently been promoted to senior vice president from vice president of sales. Also, Jaimie Lafrano has been named director of marketing at the company.

CIBA names new executive. CIBA Vision named Steven R. Colton vice president of marketing for its North America lens business unit. Colton joined CIBA Vision from the Gerber Baby Food division of CIBA parent Novartis, where he was marketing director.

Novartis Ophthalmic names director of optometric marketing. Novartis Ophthalmics, Inc., the eye health unit of Novartis AG, announced that Carl Spear, O.D., F.A.A.O., has joined its Ophthalmics Marketing Group as the director of Optometric Marketing.

Dr. Spear will implement and manage a broad range of programs that address the ophthalmic therapeutic needs of the optometric market.

Pierce to head sales and marketing. Ophthalmic buying group Vision West, Inc., has appointed Linda Pierce as the company's new director of sales and marketing.

KeraVision files Chapter 11. In late March, KeraVision announced it filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The company intends to sell all inventory, equipment and intellectually property by the end of May. The company was founded in 1986 and developed INTACS inserts, a reversible surgical procedure for correcting myopia of up to -3.0 diopters.


Alcon, TLC form alliance. Alcon and TLC Laser Eye Centers Inc. have entered into a multi-year agreement in which TLC will be using Alcon's LADARVision 4000 excimer laser in its refractive surgery centers. A variety of Alcon surgical instruments, accessory products and prescription drugs are already used in TLC centers nationwide.

Luxottica acquires Sunglass Hut, buys First American. Luxottica Group recently announced that it's set to acquire Sunglass Hut International. The deal calls for Luxottica to acquire all of Sunglass Hut's common stock at $11.50 per share through a tender offer. The acquisition is valued at about $653 million, including the assumption of about $191 million in debt.

Luxottica will use Sunglass Hut stores to help strengthen its sunglass presence.

In other company news, the EyeMed Vision Care unit of Luxottica will be one of the largest managed vision care programs in the United States after the purchase of First American Health Concepts for $9.06 per share ($25 million in cash) takes place. EyeMed's merger with First American's Eye Care Plan of America will raise the membership total to more than 30 million members.

Allergan an equity investor in VisionWeb. VisionWeb, L.P., the independent company creating the world's largest online exchange for the eyecare industry, announced that Allergan is joining founders Essilor of America and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care as an equity investor in the company.

In addition to its equity investment, Allergan has agreed to market VisionWeb as its preferred online optometry business exchange for products and services.

The two companies also agreed that, in addition to the Allergan corporate Web site, VisionWeb would be the exclusive optical e-commerce Web site (excluding general purpose retailers) for Allergan's contact lens solutions products in the United States.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2001