Article Date: 9/1/2001

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends, and News You Can Use

ROUND TWO FOR CL PRESCRIPTION LAW
O.D.s Face Another Stark Bill
By Karen Rodemich, Senior Associate Editor

Picture this: Your patient asks you for her contact lens prescription and by law, you have to give it to her -- even though you know she's just going to call that 1-800 number to order them at a cheaper price and forego the proper fitting session -- putting herself at a potential eye health risk.

Affecting all 50 states

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) is trying for a second time to introduce legislation to require this. Specifically, Stark and several colleagues introduced H.R. 2663, the "Contact Lens Prescription Release Act of 2001."

Jennifer Kent, director of Government and External Affairs for the California Optometric Association (COA), explained that individual states have different requirements on mandatory contact lens release, but that Rep. Stark is trying to make his new proposed requirements universal across all states.

Since 1973, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules have required O.D.s and M.D.s to give patients their eyeglass prescriptions, but not contact lens prescriptions.

The Contact Lens Prescription Release Act would require the FTC to promulgate a prescription release rule for contact lenses paralleling the 1973 rule for eyeglasses. It would ensure that eyecare professionals release a patient's contact lens pre-scription to the patient and, upon request, to an agent of the patient, such as an alternate contact lens distributor. Eyecare professionals must also promptly verify prescription information when an agent of the patient contacts them for such verification.

Really an issue of cost?

In a statement made in May, Rep. Stark said, "Contact lens wearers must be assured the same access to their prescriptions that eyeglass wearers currently enjoy . . . in many states, people who wear contact lenses cannot shop around for the best value and quality products."

In an August 13th article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Stark said that the current situation is costing consumers hundreds of dollars -- but is it an issue of cost and value?

Powerful backers

Stark last introduced this legislation in 1994, but it went nowhere. Now, 7 years later, he has the backing of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the powerful House Judiciary Committee chairman, the discount lens industry and the Consumers Union. The American Optometric Association has yet to take a position on the bill, and Ms. Kent said that the COA recognizes what Stark is doing on a federal level, but it won't take a position unless the bill enters the state level. "Details are what the COA cares about," she said, "such as how long a contact lens prescription will be good for."

Back in action

Congress comes back from its recess this month, but with a full schedule, it may take a while before the bill is reviewed. However, if it doesn't face strong opposition, it just may become law, even if it takes a few years. Will you be ready?

NEW APPROVALS

PureVision seeks approval for 30-day wear

Already approved for 7-day continuous wear since 1999, PureVision is going before the FDA for approval to market the lens for 30 days of continuous wear.

PureVision, manufactured by Bausch & Lomb, is the first silicone-hydrogel contact lens in the United States.

Two new indications for Visudyne

Visudyne (verteporfin for injection) has received FDA approval as the only drug to treat two devastating eye conditions. Now, the tens of thousands of patients who suffer from choroidal neovascularization due to pathologic myopia and those affected by presumed ocular histoplasmosis may benefit from treatment with this drug.

ORTHOKERATOLOGY
New Professional Group Forming

If you perform ortho-K or are interested in learning more about it, consider joining the International Academy of Orthokeratology. Open to eyecare practitioners, educators and laboratory manufacturers both in the United States and abroad, the Academy will offer benefits ranging from training seminars to fellowship status for those who demonstrate the required level of expertise.

The group also hopes to provide a forum for members to exchange techniques and ideas as well as practice management tips. The membership fee will be $150.00. You'll notice application forms soon in journals and mailings, but you may also contact Dr. John M. Rinehart by e-mail at rinehart@goodnet.com for further information.

COMFORTING PATIENTS
Music to Their Ears

If you co-manage patients who undergo surgery, you might want to suggest that the ophthalmologist let your patients listen to music during their procedures.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo split a group of 40 men and women undergoing surgery for glaucoma or cataract into two groups. One group received a tape player and headphone and could choose to listen during surgery to classical guitar, folk music or oldies. The other group didn't listen to any music.

The researchers measured each patient's blood pressure a week before surgery, the morning of surgery and during and after the surgery.

Both groups showed a spike in blood pressure the morning of surgery, consistent with anxiety, but pressures in the music group returned to normal within 5 minutes of listening to the music.

The music patients also felt less stress and a better sense of control.

O.D. NOTEBOOK
PEOPLE AND PROMOTIONS

CooperVision appoints Dr. Iravani to key position. CooperVision has announced Dr. Nikki Iravani as its new director of Professional Relations and Clinical Research. Dr. Iravani will manage clinical research projects and professional services activities, including the company's Speaker's Bureau. She'll also speak on CooperVision's behalf at various optometric meetings and seminars.

l New roles for two Allergan executives. Jake Vander Zanden, formerly director of U.S. Marketing and Sales for Allergan, has been appointed director, Global Marketing Eye Care Pharmaceuticals, effective this month. In his new position, Vander Zanden will take on the responsibility for glaucoma and the worldwide launch of Lumigan.

Also effective this month, Ken Jones will assume leadership and management responsibility for the Professional Eye Care Marketing and Sales teams, in addition to his other senior management responsibilities. Jones steps up to this new position after being head of Allergan's UK operation as vice president, Group Market Head for UK/Eire/Nordic Area and CEC Business head for Europe.

l Zeiss promotes new controller. Melissa Wilkins has been promoted to the position of controller for Carl Zeiss Optical, Inc. In her new position, Wilkins will be responsible for all of the accounting and inventory control functions for Zeiss ophthalmic and sports divisions.

l Sports vision founder to retire. A. I. Garner, founder and executive director of the International Academy of Sports Vision (IASV) recently announced his retirement. Dr. Garner has been involved with sports vision since 1971 and has guided the IASV for its first 18 years. He will stay on as an advisor to the Board and interim director Stuart Garner.

l AOA appoints communication chair. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recently appointed Jeanie Muravez as the new communication chair of its Paraoptometric Section Board. As Communication Chair, Ms. Muravez will contribute to the AOA's quarterly newsletter, Cross Section.

COMPANY NEWS

l CLMA offering free gas permeable lens information. The Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) is offering help to practitioners who use or consider gas permeable (GP) lenses for children to manage their myopia. Just call (800) 344-9060 or e-mail infor@RGPLI.org for professional reprints of a recent Contact Lens Spectrum article validating why GP lenses may be an excellent choice for managing myopia in children.

Use the article to answer questions and explain the benefits of this option to young patients and their parents. The CLMA will also send you a free CD-Rom on GP lens fitting tips and a list of other GP lens information and support tools available. The organization will even include your name on the Rigid Gas Permeable Lens Institute (RGPLI) Practitioner or Student Newsletter mailings.

l CIBA's fall issue of patient magazine now available. CIBA Vision's fall 2001 issue of Contacts is an 8-page, quarterly magazine for patients to read while waiting in eyecare practitioners' reception areas. This issue contains articles on color contact lenses, daily disposables and Wild Eyes contact lenses, all of which are designed to help educate patients about their contact lens and contact lens care options. Contact your CIBA Vision representative for your copy.

l Canadian launch of Paragon's new refractive therapy. Paragon Vision Sciences introduced its new vision correction procedure, Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT), in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in July.

According to the company, this new vision correction technique is a safe and effective non-surgical alternative for those patients who want to be free of glasses and contact lenses during their daily lives. The therapy uses an oxygen permeable contact lens, worn only during sleeping hours, to temporarily redistribute corneal epithelial cells creating an improved refractive effect. Although significant improvement is observed after the first night of wear, it generally takes about 2 weeks to achieve the full effect.

At this time, the CRT can treat myopia with or without astigmatism.

MANAGEMENT TIP OF THE MONTH

Making Your Office Kid-Friendly
By Barbara Anan Kogan, O.D., Washington, D.C.K 

A popular reassurance to use on ages toddlers to teens is "getting an eye exam is a fun experience because there are no shots or anything to hurt you, and the eye doctor uses lots of toys and instruments to examine you."

Here are some marketing tips to capture that concept and welcome more kids to your offices, while encouraging them to return regularly for quality vision care so they function well visually and do well in school and outside activities. And, remember that not only are kids influential on their parents for buying power, but, even young kids have their own credit cards for "special" purchases. The following are workable, easy, inexpensive tips to try.

Play sections

Art and science sections



Optometric Management, Issue: September 2001