Article Date: 11/1/2004

practice pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

N.C. Approves $10 Million in Bonds

No money has been guaranteed and no proposals approved, yet the debate over a new optometry school in North Carolina has begun.

The state's General Assembly approved $10 million in bond money for an optometry school at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). In August, UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors proclaimed, "There is a need for a school of optometry in North and South Carolina."

However, the Fayetteville Observer reported that the school is not part of UNCPs' strategic plan, according to Gretchen Bataille, the senior vice president of academic affairs at the University of North Carolina General Administration. She said that four optometry schools reserve a total of 84 slots for North Carolina students, and in recent years, not all slots were filled.

What's next? The UNC Office of the President will decide whether to approve a proposal for the optometry school. If approved, UNCP must then gain approval -- and funding -- from the state.

O.D.s Plan First Refractive Tech Conference

The Optometric Council on Refractive Technology (OCRT) will hold its first annual meeting and educational seminar on December 8, 2004 at the Tampa Convention Center before the American Academy of Optometry meeting. The combined registration and OCRT dues will be $100 and the meeting will include a full day of interactive education, breakfast, lunch and an evening social. OCRT expects O.D. attendance to be close to 400. The program will include presentations of the latest technology, intraocular procedures vs. corneal procedures, debates on controversial topics such as co-management and optometric ownership of laser centers, and a uniquely optometric perspective on the functional rehabilitation of the human visual system through refractive technology. For more information, call (724) 933-5588.

B&L Sues OSI over Toric Contact Lens

Bausch & Lomb sued Ocular Sciences for infringement of a patent related to toric contact lenses. B&L asked the court to require OSI to discontinue the domestic manufacture and sales of its toric lens until the B&L patent expires in 2018. OSI claims its Biomedics toric soft contact lens and the
private label equivalent do not infringe the Bausch & Lomb patent.

Dropouts Linked to Corneal Oxygen Deficiency

After interviewing more than 1,500 U.S. patients between the ages of 12 and 59 who exclusively wore eyeglasses for vision correction, CIBA Vision found that 19% had formerly purchased and worn contact lenses but had discontinued wear. This spring 2004 data indicate an estimated 13.8 million contact lens dropouts in the vision correction population in this age range.

When asked to report the reasons for dropping out of contact lenses, 47% cited discomfort as the primary reason, which was mentioned three times more frequently than any other reason. According to CIBA Vision, each of the symptoms the patients cited (discomfort, end-of-day discomfort, red eyes, dry eyes) can be potentially associated with corneal oxygen deficiency, which high-oxygen transmissible silicone hydrogel contact lenses address, says the company.





Measuring Outcomes
Lighthouse Awarded Grant

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality granted Lighthouse International a three-year, $1.4 million federal grant to support "Creating an Evidence Base for Vision Rehabilitation." The project will implement and evaluate Lighthouse's Electronic Vision Rehabilitation Record (EVRR) that offers an easy-to-document way to measure outcomes in low vision rehabilitation services. Lighthouse claims that the computerized system uses workflow and practice rules specific to vision rehabilitation to create evidence-based benchmarks for the successful delivery of such services.

"Using EVRR, information can be transferred seamlessly among the key providers involved in vision rehabilitation, including state agencies, physicians who refer patients for vision rehabilitation and private agencies that provide direct services," Betty Bird, EdK, Lighthouse's Senior Vice President for Rehabilitation Programs and Services, said. EVRR is comparable to the patient's overall medical record.

The grant allows Lighthouse to install EVRR at its headquarters in Portland, Maine, the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Utica, N.Y., and in three offices of the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

Real-World Education For The Busy O.D.
Improving Your Practice
by Barbara Anan Kogan, O.D.

Actress Janine Turner, best known for playing Maggie O'Connell on the television series Northern Exposure, appears in Allergan's new ad campaign for Restatis.

Need some post-graduate practice management education? Here are some do-able ways to bring yourself up to speed once you're out of school and in practice.

Attend your monthly local American Optometric Association's meeting and make a point to sit with long-time practitioners. You have an informal opportunity to learn from them about trends in the community where they have practiced over the years. They will also share with you the laboratories for contact lenses and eyeglasses and those to avoid.

Attend a monthly study group to discuss cases and philosophies about functional/developmental/behavioral care and vision therapy. On your day or half-day off, visit these practitioners' offices to learn first-hand about the type of care they provide.

In addition to your optician or office staffer meeting with the contact lens and eyeglass frame reps, schedule a non-purchasing time to become more informed about trends in your community. This includes sizes, shapes, colors and prices of frames. Ask reps to tell you which are the top six frames in your area.

Consider selecting or consulting with an accountant who has other optometrists as clients. If they have chiropractors as clients, for example, it's even more beneficial because they too sell products in addition to providing care.

Immediate Gratification for GP Wearers

A new contact lens fitting system became available last month, courtesy of Key Distributed Products International (KDPI). The Naturalens Dispensing Inventory System (DIS) will allow for the immediate dispensing of GP contact lenses, specifically Naturalens lenses, says the company. It contains six base curves (fitting curves) that accommodate the range from 42.00 to 45.00 (3.0D). There are only 120 lenses in the dispensing inventory system.

This three diopter range of six fitting curves is available in 0.10mm steps and will, according to KDPI, accommodate approximately 80% to 85% of normal corneal requirements for properly fit GP contact lenses, allowing for the immediate dispensing of the product to patients at the time of their visit.


New Rigid Silicone Hydrogel Lens

The FDA granted marketing clearance to Lagado Corporation for its ONSI-56 (onsifocon A) rigid silicone hydrogel contact lens. According to the company, the silicone hydrogel polymer has been formulated to hydrate on the surface like a soft silicone hydrogel while remaining rigid in the interior of the lens. The lens is available in blue, green, gray, blue UV and onsure (blue-violet) and has a Dk of 56. For more information, call (800) 574-2581 or visit

Verisyse/Artisan IOL Approved

The FDA has approved the Verisyse/Artisan phakic IOL for use in myopic patients. The FDA-approved product labeling will indicate that the Verisyse/Artisan lens is suitable for the reduction of myopia in adults who have myopia ranging from ­5.00D to ­20.0D and in patients 21 years old and older.

Glaucoma Med is "Approvable"

The FDA issued an approvable letter for Extravan, Alcon's fixed combination of travoprost 0.004% and timolol 0.5%.

Alcon said it "will be meeting with the FDA as soon as possible to clarify what additional steps may be required to gain final approval."

Study Confirms CCT's Importance

A study in the September issue of Archives of Ophthalmology not only confirms that central corneal thickness (CCT) is a significant factor when managing patients who have glaucoma and patients suspected of having glaucoma, but also represents one of the first attempts to determine exactly how great an impact CCT has on a patient's IOP.

The researchers tested a linear correction scale that was used to guide treatment management decisions for 188 patients who have glaucoma or suspected glaucoma seen in a two-month period. Based on whether researchers found a patient's CCT thicker or thinner than normal (defined as 545µm), the linear scale added or subtracted 2.5 mmHg to the IOP for every 50 µm difference in CCT from 545 µm. Corrected IOP = Measured IOP (CCT ­ 545/50 X 2.5 mmHg). Researchers defined measurement-significant adjustments as IOP corrections of 1.5 mmHg or greater (in either direction). Any CCT-associated IOP adjustments of 3.0 mmHg or greater (in either direction) were designated as outcomes significant.

Results of the linear scale found that 55.9% (105 patients) had at least a measurement-significant adjustment to their IOP, with 35.6% (67) having adjustments between 1.5 mmHg and 3.0 mmHg and 20.2% (38) having an outcomes-significant correction (3.0 mmHg in either direction).


CZM to acquire LDT. Carl Zeiss Meditec, manufacturer of the Stratus OCT retinal imaging system, will purchase Laser Diagnostic Technologies, makers of the GDx VCC glaucoma detection device.

CooperVision finds counterfeit lenses. CooperVision has found counterfeit Proclear Compatibles contact lenses in the United States. The company became aware of the problem after it received two complaints about the quality of the lenses. CooperVision believes the counterfeit product is limited to 1-800 Contacts, an unauthorized distributor of the lens. Both companies and the FDA are working to correct the situation.


Ophthonix receives patent. The company won its fourth patent this year, this one providing for the measurement of wavefront deviations in the human eye leading to a nonsurgical approach to optimizing a patient's vision with iZon Wavefront-Guides Lenses. Ophthonix uses wavefront technology to create customized eyeglasses and contact lenses.

CIBA ships record number of lenses. CIBA Vision announced that it shipped "an unprecedented" 11,500 O2OPTIX contact lens fitting sets this month to customers across the United States.

Varilux available in new color. Varilux wearers now have the option of brown-tinted prescription polarized polycarbonate lenses with Varilux Panamic Airwear Polarized Brown. Essilor says it's compatible with the anti-reflective properties of Essilor's Crizal Alize.

Optical Connection opens wavefront facility. Optical Connection last month opened a new manufacturing facility in San Diego for its "WaveTouch Process." The process is used in the company's soon-to-be-launched iZon by Definition FRP soft contact lenses, which are made with wavefront data, the company says.


Brandys joins Eye Institute. The Illinois Eye Institute, a division of the Illinois College of Optometry, appointed Vincent W. Brandys, O.D., its new director of Professional Relations.

Kirchner-affiliated practice honored. Shamir Insight Inc. named Nebraska-based Eyecare Specialties "Eye Care Professional of the Year." The honor is part of Shamir's 2004 Customer Awards for companies that "understand the importance of premium progressive lenses and want the best for their customers." Dr. James Kirchner, a member of the OM Editorial Adivsory Board, is the senior partner of Eyecare Specialities.

New to Optical Connection. David Israel has joined Optical Connection Inc. as senior vice president, Business Development/Operations. J. Marcelo Steppacher joins the company as director of Latin American Sales.

New division, president at Essilor. Essilor of America named Bob Colucci president of its newly created Independent Distribution Division. Essilor formed the division to help support the independent segment of the industry. Before assuming the position, Colucci was senior vice president of National Sales and Labs for Essilor Laboratories of America.


Save money at CLES. The Contact Lens and Eyecare Symposium (CLES) is offering an "early bird" discount for eyecare practitioners who register before Nov. 30. CLES says that discounts range as high as 30% off the registration fee. CLES will be held from January 19-22, 2005, in San Diego.

PVF makes charitable donations. The Pearle Vision Foundation (PVF) recently awarded nearly $200,000 to numerous organizations nationwide for eyecare services. PVF's total donations for eye care for the financially disadvantaged for 2004 amount to $420,000.

Houston Meeting to Address Dropouts

This year's Cornea, Contact Lenses and Contemporary Vision Care Symposium, sponsored by the University of Houston College of Optometry, will take place between December 3 to 5 in Houston. The highlight is an Alcon-sponsored roundtable discussion billed as a "Texas Shoot Out on Contact Lens Drop Outs," which will bring together experts in the problem. This discussion will include short presentations focused on specific issues such as practice impact, comfort and dryness, contact lens and therapeutic management of dropout candidates and new ways to measure the wettability of a contact lens. To learn more about this year's meeting, call (713) 743-1900.

Transitions Ad Features AOA Seal

Transitions Optical is featuring the American Optometric Association's new Seal of Acceptance for Ultraviolet Absorbers/Blockers in a recently-begun national television advertising campaign. The ads include a message that Transition Lenses are "approved by the American Optometric Association."

"Including consumer-targeted seals like this one in advertising help build confidence in products," a company spokesperson said. For example, "Seven out of 10 consumers are more likely to purchase a product that carries the Good Housekeeping Seal than a similar product that does not."

Consumers Enter To Win
CIBA Sweepstakes Encourages Annual Supply Purchases

CIBA Vision kicked off its "All The Year's Best" promotion in North America. It invites U.S. consumers to enter a sweepstakes, which they can do at, and obtain a rebate voucher toward an annual supply purchase of CIBA Vision contact lenses.

CIBA will select one grand prize winner, as well as her eyecare practitioner, in December 2004 and will award the winner with a trip for four to the 2005 professional football championship game in Jacksonville, Fla. (the winner's eyecare practitioner will receive a trip for two to the game). In April 2005, CIBA will give a second grand prize winner, as well as her eyecare practitioner, one-year leases on a 2005 Corvette C6. Other winners will receive iPod mini digital music players.

Advertisements for the sweepstakes will appear in People magazine in November 2004 and in January 2005, and on promotional displays in practitioners' offices.

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Did you know that only 50% to 60% of individuals who have diabetes get the recommended yearly eye exams? Well, that's the truth according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The organization also says that each year, between 12,000 and 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetic retinopathy. With the number of Americans who have diabetes at approximately 29 million, eyecare practitioners need to educate patients about different ways to reduce the risk of eye disease (keeping blood pressure under control, not smoking, keeping cholesterol levels low, keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible with diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication.)


Optometric Management, Issue: November 2004