Article Date: 1/1/2003

practice pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Vistakon and 1-800 Forge Agreement

Vistakon and 1-800 Contacts have reached an agreement to provide customers with Acuvue brand contact lenses. The agreement requires 1-800 to modify its system to give eyecare providers (ECPs) eight business hours to respond to prescription verification requests for Vistakon products.

Says Vistakon Americas President Phil Keefer, "We're not selling our lenses to 1-800 yet. If we test the system and find 1-800 in compliance, then we'll open an account."

1-800 anticipates that the testing process will be completed no later than early February.

ECPs have the option of receiving the verification request by fax. When the ECP receives the fax, he verifies whether the prescription is valid. If he responds that the prescription is invalid or expired, then 1-800 won't ship the lenses. If 1-800 doesn't get a response within eight business hours (excluding Sundays and holidays), then it will ship the order but require an updated prescription for future orders. If the ECP responds after the time allowed, the response will go into the 1-800 customer's account information for future reference.

If there is no response, 1-800 will contact the ECP once a quarter to verify the fax number and that the practice is still in business. 1-800 has agreed to cancel the order and notify the customer if it can't match a valid prescription to the order. ECPs can also provide expiration dates for prescriptions that 1-800 must adhere to.

"[This agreement] puts the doctor back in charge of the patient," says Mr. Keefer. As an additional benefit, says Mr. Keefer, when an O.D. receives a verification request, he can call his patient and explain the importance of eye exams.

The agreement will enable 1-800 to purchase Acuvue lenses at lower prices than it has through indirect sources. "We can't stop 1-800 from getting lenses," says Mr. Keefer. "Why not try to put some order in the system to try to make it work the way it should in terms of protecting the patient and insuring regular eye exams?"

House Considering Senate Bill

Pennsylvania is currently one of four states in the nation that doesn't allow optometrists to treat glaucoma. That fact may change someday soon. On November 13, the Pennsylvania state Senate passed legislation by Senate Majority Whip Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) that would amend state law to permit qualified, trained optom-etrists to treat certain forms of glaucoma and to dispense topical steroids.

Its supporters say that Senate Bill 831 would benefit rural Pennsylvania citizens especially because they may not have access to ophthalmologists. According to Piccola, who worked with the Pennsylvania Optometric Association on the bill, SB831 would create a new class of "advanced practice optometrists," who would have to receive additional training in the treatment of glaucoma. These qualified O.D.s would also have to refer a patient to an ophthalmologist or another physician under certain circumstances.

The dispensing of beta blockers was not included in SB831, nor was surgery. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is currently considering the bill.

Chronic Dry Eye Therapy Approved

The FDA has approved Allergan's cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion 0.05% (Restasis) for keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or chronic dry eye disease (CDED), in patients whose tear production is presumed to be suppressed due to ocular inflammation. Allergan plans to launch Restasis, the first CDED therapy to receive FDA approval, in the second quarter.

In Phase III studies, Restasis demonstrated increases in Schirmer wetting versus vehicle at six months. Increased tear production was not demonstrated in patients currently taking topical anti-inflammatory drugs or using punctal plugs.

Join Forces to Aid Diabetic Patients
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

Podiatrists should consider a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to caring for diabetic patients that includes an annual eye exam, according to an article published in the November/December issue of Podiatry Management.

Podiatrists should be aware of the risks

Because podiatrists are often the primary point of care for diabetics, author Ross E. Taubmann, D.P.M., said they should be aware that diabetics are 25 times more likely to suffer blindness from cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

"Those who smoke, have poor nutrition and do not control their diabetes have an even greater risk for developing eye complications," he wrote. "Early detection and treatment can prevent blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy in 90% of people who have diabetes. Therefore, it is imperative that people who have diabetes receive an annual eye examination that includes a dilated retinal examination.

"Podiatrists should track whether their patients are having this crucial examination performed. If not, the podiatrist has an obligation to refer his patients to eyecare professionals for evaluation," writes Dr. Taubmann.

Opportunity knocks

I hope that optometrists will use the article as a springboard to fostering closer communication with podiatrists in their communities. The groundwork has been done. Establish a dialogue based on your overlapping interest in monitoring, preventing and treating diabetes. It will lead to improved patient care and reciprocal referrals.



Pearle supports vision-related causes. The Pearle Vision Foundation recently awarded more than $252,000 in grants to numerous organizations throughout the United States. Among the organizations that received awards are: Discovery Fund for Eye Research, Lions Eye Bank of Central Texas and Pennsylvania College of Optometry.


CIBA Vision presents an illuminating contact lens. CIBA recently launched its FreshLook Radiance contact lenses in the United States The cosmetic lenses are designed to illuminate both light and dark eyes without changing their natural color. The design features an inner starburst pattern that creates a shimmery effect, while the main iris area of the lens is clear, allowing the natural eye color to show through. A charcoal-colored outer ring pattern provides definition.

Odyssey reaches out to Spanish-speaking patients. Odyssey Medical is offering dry eye patient brochures in Spanish. Brochures and other informational materials are provided complimentary with orders.

Eyefinity services now available to all private eyecare practitioners. Those outside the VSP network may register at for access to services including online claims filing, purchasing from industry manufacturers, a HIPAA resource center and BCI's VisionCare CE online program.

Transitions wins OLA award. Transitions Optical's Next Generation Transition Lenses won the OLA (Optical Laboratories Association) Award for Excellence in the best lens treatments category.

NYSOA Okays Vision Expo East. The New York State Optometric Association officially endorsed the International Vision Expo East Conference as an educational provider supporting the business and educational needs of its membership.

CIBA's Daily Toric Contact Lens Launched

CIBA Vision last month announced a phased roll out of its Focus Dailies Toric contact lens in the United States and Canada. The company says it is the first and only daily disposable contact lens in the world for astigmatic patients. Featuring a back-surface toric design with double thin zones and an 8.6-mm base curve, the lens is being made available in spherical powers from -0.50D to -6D in 0.25D steps with a -0.75D cylinder in axis 180š and 90š. The roll out will continue through the first quarter of 2003, with nationwide availability planned later this year for both countries.


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2003