Article Date: 11/1/2003

Practice Pulse
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MANDATORY EYE EXAMS MAKE STRIDES
States Focus on Children's Visual Needs
By René Luthe, Senior Associate Editor

According to information provided by the American Optometric Association, a number of states have enacted legislation or are considering legislation requiring more comprehensive eye exams for school children this year. (At the national level, HR 2173, which mandates eye exams for school-aged children, was introduced in Congress last summer.)

Let's see

Four states enacted legislation in 2003. California's resolution (ACR106) recognizes that school vision screenings aren't effective. Arkansas' commission (established by HB1553), is charged with developing a strategic statewide plan. Ohio's Act (HB95) recognizes the importance of vision in learning, but only for students identified with disabilities. Illinois' law (SB805), merely "encourages" parents to have their children's vision examined at the same points in time that schools require children to undergo health exams. It stipulates that the Department of Health, which conducts school vision screenings, notify parents or guardians that the screening is not a substitute for an eye and visual exam by an "eye doctor."

Getting tough -- maybe

The future, however, looks brighter, with eight states considering more stringent legislation. Massachusetts has three bills pending (HB1068, SB228, SB687 and SB909) that require vision screening coverage by third-party payers. By the age of four years, children would undergo a screening that "shall include but not be limited to" visual acuity and alignment testing administered by a licensed physician, optometrist, nurse, physician's assistant, certified orthoptist or ophthalmic technician. The legislation specifies that if a child doesn't pass the vision screening, he must undergo a comprehensive eye exam by an M.D. or an O.D.

Georgia, Nebraska, New York and West Virginia (SB242, LB174, HB7012 and SB188, respectively) have bills pending that require comprehensive visual exams of children entering public schools. All except Nebraska's specify that the exam be conducted by an M.D. or an O.D.; Nebraska's requires an O.D. or a "physician."

Georgia's bill would become effective only if federal grants are available to adequately fund the program.

In California SB606 requires only that a questionnaire regarding the child's vision be delivered to the parent or guardian at the time of a school visual appraisal. If the parent answers yes to two or more questions, he or she is encouraged to have the child assessed by a "qualified health care professional."

Iowa's HB307 mandates that the state neonatal screening program includes retinoblastoma screening during "well baby" visits.

 

FDA Approves B&L's Zyoptix

The FDA has approved Bausch & Lomb's Technolas 217z Zyoptix system. The custom LASIK system combines the B&L Technolas 217 excimer laser, the Zywave wavefront aberrometer and the Orbscan IIz anterior segment analysis system. The FDA approved the system for the widest treatment range of any of the three custom LASIK systems available in the United States (sphere up to -7.00D, cylinder up to -3.00D).

The Zyoptix platform has been in use outside the United States since 2001. B&L says that over 100,000 procedures have already been performed with the system.

 

www.coopervision.com

CooperVision, Inc. has launched the new section, "My CooperVision" to its Web site, coopervision.com, which, according to the company, provides quicker ordering with state-of- the-art technology for faster processing. The site also features easier navigation. Other additions to the CooperVision Web site include updated clinical information, an expanded patient site, more extensive product information, online marketing materials, updated fitting calculators and new program downloads.

 

AOA Convenes to Clarify Terms of CL Rx Bill

On October 1, 2003, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the passage of a revised version of The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (HR 3140). The American Optometric Association (AOA) recently held a conference call to answer questions about the bill and to clarify its terms. According to J. Pat Cummings, O.D., immediate AOA past president, "Most significant changes include action taken against sellers for selling lenses without valid prescriptions and the establishment of a logical verification process."

Says Jeff Mays, deputy executive director of the AOA Washington, DC, office, "We anticipate that the House will consider this bill and the decorative lens bill before the end of the month."

 

FUTURISTIC SUNGLASSES
Shades of the Future May Help Save Your Life

A Yale University researcher developed a new wireless technology aimed at providing a constant reading of body temperature. The technology, known as TempAlert, could take the form of an eye patch or conventional sunglasses, explained Hong Kong-based Giant Wireless Technology Ltd., which expects to launch commercial applications early next year.

Athletes could use TempAlert to read body temperature and prevent heat stroke or dehydration, couples could use the device to track fertility and others could use it to detect diseases such as SARS.

 

O.D. NOTEBOOK

As part of Transitions Optical, Inc.'s support for the American Optometric Association's Healthy Eyes Healthy People (HEHP) conference, it has made a new poster for use as a public education tool. It reads, "The burning truth about the sun's UV rays: Just like your skin, your eyes need UV protection." For more information on this poster, call (800) 848-1506.

 

COMPANY NEWS

Allergan to acquire Oculex. Allergan, Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement in which it will pay roughly $230 million to acquire Oculex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., developer of therapeutic products for the treatment of eye diseases.

New Web site feature educates consumers. AllAboutVision.com's Web site offers a new feature called "Symptoms A to Z," which lists a variety of eye problems and their associated conditions and diseases. Each is hyperlinked to more in-depth explanations and some direct visitors to articles.

Bio-Logic launches new campaign. Bio-Logic Aqua Technologies Biomedical Research launched a national media campaign for Nature's Tears EyeMist in September. According to the company, its campaign will reach millions of people, educating them about dry eye conditions and how they can quickly and easily get immediate relief.

 

PEOPLE & PROMOTIONS

Costa Del Mar appoints new marketing director and vp of sales. Costa Del Mar has appointed Terri Ossi as its new marketing director and David Bulthuis to the position of vice president of sales.

Prio promotes Mark. Prio Corporation promoted Rick Mark to vice president of sales.

Contact lens distributor appoints new VP. Optical Distributor Group has named Les Lewis to the position of vice president national sales director.

CIBA creates and fills new position. As part of an ongoing, company-wide initiative, CIBA Vision has hired Bob Holmes in a newly created position of vice president of operations.

 

COLE DISCUSSING OFFER
Mystery Party Offers Cole Unsolicited Offer

Cole National Corp. received an unsolicited buyout offer valued at $320 million, or $19.65 a share in cash, last month. The eyewear retailer, whose optical divisions include Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Cole Managed Vision, has formed a committee of independent directors to review strategic alternatives, including a merger, sale or restructuring. The company said that it is in discussions with the party who made the nonbinding proposal, as well as with others. Cole's shares rose more than 70% the day the company announced the offer.

 

FDA Approval

Haag-Streit's new OLCR Pachymeter just earned FDA approval and will be showcased this month at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in Anaheim, Calif. The pachymeter uses a technology known as optical low coherence reflectometry, which allows the highly accurate and reproducible measurement of plus or minus 1 µm of corneal thickness. The OLCR is a noncontact instrument and can be mounted to any existing Haag-Streit slit lamp. 

 

J&J GETS THE WORD OUT
Definity Campaign Includes Web Site, TV Commercial

As part of its national rollout for the Definity lens, the Spectacle Lens Group of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care has launched a multi-media ad campaign that includes a television commercial, Web site and in-office support materials. The company promotes the Definity as "a break-through progressive lens that offers the least amount of unwanted astigmatism and the widest intermediate zone of any progressive lens on the market."

The new Web site, www.definity.com, features a page for eyecare professionals and another for consumers. The consumer's page offers a product locator service to help consumers find eyecare providers who offer Definity lenses; doctors who wish to participate enter their practice information on an online form. In-office support materials include a display that shows the wider field of view Definity lenses offer over traditional progressives.

 



Optometric Management, Issue: November 2003