Article Date: 3/1/2003

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Word of Mouth Wins
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

For information about health care, what to buy, investments and a host of other issues, Americans are far more likely to turn to friends, family and others for advice than to rely on advertising. These are among the findings reported in the book The Influentials, published by The Free Press, 2003 and written by Ed Keller and Jon Berry, chief executive and vice president of Roper-ASW, a global marketing research and consulting firm.

The following table indicates the relative importance of "people" versus "advertising" for such information. It's based on personal interviews that Roper Research has conducted on a regular basis for 25 years of 2,000 Americans aged 18 and older, chosen as statistically representative of the population.

As the table shows, Americans generally are twice as likely to cite word of mouth as the best source of ideas and information in such matters as they are to cite advertising. Family and friends are among the first consulted. For issues related to health (and there's every reason to believe that includes the choice of an optometrist), Roper Research reports that Americans are increasingly turning to others as well, including colleagues, acquaintances, physicians and pharmacists.

The bottom line is word-of-mouth recommendations about your practice, treatment of dry eye, vision therapy, comanagement of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery and so on are more convincing, credible and persuasive than any form of self-promotion or advertising.

Question for your next staff meeting: What is it that you and your staff do so well that it makes patients want to tell others how good you are?



Restaurants to try 83% 35%
Prescription drugs to try 71% 21%
Hotels to stay in 63% 27%
Ways to improve your health 61% 19%
Retirement planning 58% 9%
Merits of cars 58% 36%
Saving and investing money 57% 12%
Computer equipment 40% 18%

OGS Holds Inaugural Meeting

The Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS) just held its inaugural meeting after the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in December. President Murray Fingeret, Vice president Tom Lewis and Secretary Mike Patella founded the society in order to provide an optometric group that brings together leading clinicians, educators and scientists who are interested in glaucoma management.

The Society's mission is to promote excellence in the care of patients with glaucoma through professional education and scientific investigation. The OGS plans to recognize individuals for their achievements in glaucoma research, education and care each year. This year it honored Robert N. Weinreb, M.D., for his contributions to the science and care of individuals who have glaucoma.

Future plans for the OGS include creating a Web site, developing educational programs and acting as a conduit to bring the science, education and care of glaucoma together in one body for the optometric profession.

Genteal PF Unveiled

Novartis Ophthalmics announces the arrival of its new preservative-free artificial tear product, GenTeal PF, which contains natural tear ions such as zinc and calcium. GenTeal PF will be sold over the counter at most major drug store chains and at several retail stores in single-dose units. Patients will be able to purchase 36 single-dose units for the price of a 30-unit dosage.

Lutein Doesn't Increase Pigment

Researchers at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., claim that the antioxidant lutein has no more effect in warding off macular degeneration than placebo. Their findings come from a randomized, placebo-controlled study that followed 45 healthy young adults for six months. The investigators measured pigment density in the eye. After six months of daily supplementation with lutein, that group showed no increase in pigment density compared with the placebo group.

Other studies have shown that lutein does increase macular pigment. And while it's possible that lutein may not increase pigment in those with adequate amounts of the antioxidant, it may help those with a deficiency. "It looks like different people metabolize lutein differently," lead investigator Diane P. Yolton, O.D., said.

Yolton says that despite the results of her own research, she wouldn't rule out the wisdom of taking supplements. Yolton and her team announced their findings at the recent American Academy of Optometry meeting in San Diego, Calif.

AR Council Reaches Consumers Nationwide

As part of the AR Council's ongoing nationwide consumer awareness campaign, the council has submitted its latest press release for distribution to 1,500 daily and 8,500 weekly newspapers. The article is titled "Eye Site: Shedding Light on the Benefits of Glare Free Anti-Reflective Lenses."

The article describes anti-reflective coating benefits such as glare reduction, better night vision, improved computer vision and cosmetic appeal and urges interested consumers to contact the AR Council at (877) 254-4477 or at


On page 61 of our February issue, we reported that olopatadine (Patanol) has been approved for once-per-day dosing. To clarify, there is no new indication for the current formula. The NDA has been filed for a new formulation, Patanol Once a Day (olopatadine .2%). This new once a day formulation should be available before the end of the year.



Essilor announces grant recipients. Essilor of America, Inc. recently announced the winners of its 2002 Essilor Optical Technology Grants, which are one-time awards given to colleges of optometry that exhibit their commitment to growing the industry through new advancements. Northeastern State University College of Optometry, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Michigan College of Optometry and State University New York Optometry all received grants.

Check Yearly. See Clearly. gains new supporter. Vision Council of America has announced that Prevent Blindness America has become an official supporter of its Check Yearly. See Clearly. campaign.


Wilson joins B&L board, Americas region president resigns. Barry W. Wilson, senior vice president of Medtronic, Inc., and president of Medtronic International, has joined Bausch & Lomb's Board of Directors.

Mark M. Sieczkarek, senior vice president and president, Americas Region, has left the company. Chairman and CEO Ronald L. Zarrella will oversee the Americas Region commercial business until the B&L names a successor.

Weisbarth gets promotion. CIBA Vision recently promoted Rick Weisbarth, O.D., F.A.A.O., who's been with the company for 21 years, to vice president, professional services, CIBA Vision North America.

Essilor makes staffing changes. Essilor of America announces that Ted Gioia has joined the company as vice president, business development and strategy. Also, Saadia Mizrahi has been promoted to the position of wholesale marketing manager for the company.

Mudarri joins Interactive Visual Systems. Paul Mudarri has been appointed western regional manager in the United States.


Novartis offers online allergy quiz. Novartis Ophthalmics has created an allergy quiz to help allergy sufferers determine if allergies are the culprit behind the discomfort of their red, itching eyes. The quiz is located at


Court affirms patent infringement. According to CIBA Vision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the United States District Court for the District of Delaware ruling that Bausch & Lomb's PureVision contact lenses infringe CIBA's Harvey patent. The ruling means that B&L can't resume manufacture of its PureVision lenses within the United States at least until 2005, when the Harvey patent expires.

New Patanol formulation reviewed. Alcon, Inc. recently presented results from two clinical trials involving a new, investigational once-daily formulation of Patanol. Both studies show promising results and Alcon anticipates approval of its NDA for the new formulation later this year.


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2003