Article Date: 2/1/2003

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Studies Test Eye Gel to Treat Myopia

Novartis Ophthalmics and Valley Forge Pharmaceuticals have entered into a licensing agreement for an eye medication, pirenzepine ophthalmic gel, to treat myopia. Pirenzepine is a relatively selective muscarinic M1 receptor antagonist administered as an eye gel b.i.d. and is expected to reduce the progression of myopia by up to 50%. In simple terms, the drug acts by slowing axial growth. The exact mechanism is unknown, however it doesn't appear related to its cylcoplegic effects.

So far in Phase II trials, pirenze-pine has reduced the progression of myopia by at least 50% in the first 12 months of therapy in myopic children ages eight to 12. Novartis plans to market the compound worldwide upon successful completion of Phase II and III clinical trials as well as regulatory approvals.

Novartis requested that the FDA convene an advisory panel (which is expected to occur this spring) to help define the clinical development guidelines.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) has unveiled a new Web site,, which allows the public to search for an O.D. in their area. Available 24 hours a day, Dr. Locator lets a patient search for a doctor by multiple criteria simultaneously. Plus, patients don't have to call or wait for a referral.

Dr. Locator provides each AOA member with three complimentary zip codes by which patients in their area can search. Doctors can add more refined search fields, such as gender, languages spoken and practice emphasis, to their listing. If you're an AOA member and you want to be a part of this service, visit the Web site above.

Staying on Top of the Latest Glaucoma Research
Glaucoma Meds Linked with Breathing Problems

Researchers at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London are saying that topical beta blockers may cause breathing problems in the elderly. James Kirwan, a glaucoma specialist at the Institute, and his colleagues studied approximately 3,000 glaucoma patients and found that the risk of developing airway obstruction was 2.5 times higher in those exposed to the drugs than in the general population. Their findings indicate the need for further research.

Study Confirms Effectiveness of Travoprost

In a recent study, travoprost ophthalmic solution (Travatan) significantly improved control of intraocular pressure (IOP) among patients with primary open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

The studied performed a retrospective analysis on 193 patients who were newly treated with travoprost and newly diagnosed or had a history of glaucoma. Within the study group, 77 patients replaced latanoprost (including monotherapy or multiple therapy) with travoprost. After being treated for an average of 73 days, the baseline IOP of these patients dropped from 19.8 mmHg to 17.7 mmHg.

Twenty-eight new patients with no therapy had a baseline IOP of 27.2 mmHg. Following travoprost therapy, the baseline IOP was 17.8 mmHg. Seven patients without therapy demonstrated a drop in baseline IOP from 17.7 mmHg to 13.3 mmHg after travoprost therapy. Bradley A. Peltzer, O.D., presented the study, "IOP Lowering Efficacy of Travatan in a Mixed Population," at the American Academy of Optometry meeting.

Document CL Complications

You can now report complications caused by contact lenses that patients bought without a valid prescription. The Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) developed an online form, which is available at:

The form asks you for the patient's presenting signs and symptoms, your course of treatment and the outcome. It also contains fields requesting information about the financial impact to the patient or healthcare resources the patient used.

VSP to Launch Frame Program

Vision Service Plan (VSP) intends to launch a new, voluntary program, FrameConnect, that will allow VSP doctors to receive preferred pricing and additional dispensing incentives from participating frame companies including Safilo Group and Viva International Group. According to VSP, FrameConnect will help VSP doctors address competitive pressures of the changing optometric market and meet increased consumer demand for more choice and value.

VSP expects to start FrameConnect this month. The program offers benefits such as a two-year performance warranty on all frames.


PCO's president to lead the AAO. Pennsylvania College of Optometry's President, Dr. Thomas L. Lewis, has been named as president of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) for a two-year term.

OGS honors Weinreb. At its inaugural meeting in December 2002, the Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS) honored renowned educator, author, physician and scientist, Robert N. Weinreb, M.D., for his contributions to the science and care of individuals who have glaucoma. The OGS plans to recognize other individuals for their achievements in glaucoma research, education and care each year.


Hall of Fame nominations. The National Optometry Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for its 2003 class of inductees. Fax your nomination to (614) 781-6521 or mail it to:

National Optometry Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 6036
Worthington, OH 43085.
Nominations must be received by March 10, 2003. The induction ceremony will take place on October 23, 2003.

AR Council welcomes new members. The AR Council has added Innova Ltd., KBco, Sutherlin Optical, Toledo Optical Laboratory and YTC America as its newest members.


KnowYourStaff, a new division of Hayes Consulting, offers O.D.s two assessment tools to compare candidates and employees to traits that are unique to peak performing eyecare employees in the specific position they seek. Assessments are taken online and range in price from $79 for basic to $119 for comprehensive. The sixth profile is free. For more information on this service, call (800) 597-4798 or visit the Web site at

Storage for Seven Days

CIBA Vision's no-rub, peroxide-based lens care formula, AOSept Clear Care, has just been approved to store contact lenses for up to seven days following disinfection. Previously, the FDA approved lens storage in AOSept Clear Care up to 24 hours after disinfection.

The product has a built-in cleaner, as well as hydrogen peroxide to penetrate the lenses for a deep cleaning.

Restasis Approved for Dry Eye

The FDA recently approved Allergan, Inc.'s cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion, 0.05% (Restasis) as therapy for patients who suffer from chronic dry eye disease and whose tear production is presumed to be suppressed because of ocular inflammation. According to Allergan, Restasis is thought to act as a partial immunomodulator with anti-inflammatory effects in dry eye disease, however, the exact mechanism of action is not known.

Restasis is contraindicated in patients who have active ocular infection and in patients with known or suspected hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients in the formulation. The most common adverse event following the use of Restasis in pivotal Phase III studies was ocular burning (17%). Allergan expects to launch Restasis in the second quarter of 2003.

Treating Elevated IOPs

Initially approved for second-line use to treat elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension, Pharmacia Corporation's once-daily prescription eye drop, latanoprost ophthalmic solution (Xalatan), has recently received approval as an initial treatment for elevated IOPs. According to Pharmacia, Xalatan is the first and only prostaglandin with a first-line indication for treating elevated IOP in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The most commonly reported side effects in eyes treated with Xalatan include blurred vision, darkening of eye color and itching.


Optometric Management, Issue: February 2003