Article Date: 1/1/2005

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Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Zeiss and Sola Join Forces

Carl Zeiss AG and Swedish private equity firm EQT acquired spectacle lens manufacturer Sola International Inc. for $1.1 billion, including approximately $285 million of debt. The buyers will merge with Sola to create a new company consisting of Carl Zeiss's spectacle business and Sola.

"I am excited that we can develop the Carl Zeiss eyeglass business with its technology, innovative products and strong Zeiss brand into a real global company," Dr. Michael Kashke, Zeiss executive board member, said. "The merger with Sola is an excellent opportunity to create a company that is represented in all important markets across the globe."

Carl Zeiss and EQT will pay Sola shareholders $28 per share in cash, a 30% premium over Sola's closing price of $22.11 in the New York Stock Exchange the week before the deal was announced. Carl Zeiss and EQT will own the newly formed company 50/50. Sola's President and Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy C. Bishop, reports that the combined company will have annual revenues of approximately 800 euros, or $595.4 million. The merger should be completed in the first calendar quarter of this year.

In other news, on December 2, 2004, Carl Zeiss Meditec Inc. formally completed the acquisition of San Diego-based Laser Diagnostic Technologies.


ARBO Launches New Web Site

The Council on Practitioner Education (COPE) now has the capability to accept and review continuing education (CE) course applications online, thanks to the redesigned Web site and database that COPE's parent organization, the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) launched. Course reviewers can use the program to return CE reviews. COPE also developed an online training course for reviewers. For more information, visit or


From Education to TV Glasses

The American Academy of Optometry presented a number of products and manufacturer-related information during its annual press conference. OM recaps a sampling of the presentations below:

Ziemer Ophthalmic Systems recently developed a wireless version of the PASCAL dynamic contour tonometer, which allows clinicians to send data to a portable printer or computer via wireless technology.

M&S Technologies presented a professional sports vision testing module for its computerized visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and video display system, the Smart System 2020.

Eschenbach introduced MaxTV glasses. These hands-free, head-mounted glasses provide 2.1x magnification for any distance viewing activity. E-mail

Essilor announced its 2004 Optical Technology grants to the University of Houston College of Optometry, Southern California College of Optometry and Pacific University. Each received $20,000 for special projects.

Ocular Sciences presented the first disposable aspheric contact lens, the Biomedics 55 Premier, which corrects the spherical aberration in both the lens and the patient's eye.

OfficeMate Software Solutions presented ExamWRITER 5.0 electronic medical records along with the "must haves" for going electronic, which include accuracy, speed, templates, prescription tracking, integration with digital refraction, document drawing, quick coding and letter writing.

The LKC Sweep Visual Evoked Potential (Seep VEP) technology objectively determines the visual acuity of an infant or non-verbal patient.

In its first year, The Vision Care Institute of Vistakon hosted half of the nation's fourth-year optometry school graduates who received hands-on, patient-focused training using the latest equipment and products. The Institute, which helps new practitioners make the transition from student to practicing optometrist, enhances participants' technical and communications skills through real-world scenarios. It will invite all fourth-year optometry students in 2005.

A One-Question Patient Survey
by Bob Levoy

"Could customer satisfaction surveys be reduced to a single question?" asks consultant/author Frederick F. Reichheld in the Harvard Business Review. "If so, what would that question be?"

"It took two years of research to figure that out," Mr. Reichheld says. "Research that linked survey responses with actual customer behavior -- purchasing patterns and referrals -- and ultimately with company growth. It turned out that a single survey question can, in fact, serve as a useful predictor of growth.

"But that question isn't about customer satisfaction --- at least in so many words. Rather, it's about customers' willingness to recommend a product or service to someone else. In fact," says Mr. Reichheld, "in most of the industries that I studied, the percentage of customers who were enthusiastic enough to refer a friend or colleague . . . correlated directly with differences in growth rates among competitors." ("The One Number You Need to Grow," Harvard Business Review, December 2003, 46-54)

The single question that emerged from Mr. Reichheld's research was, "How likely is it that you would recommend (Company X) to a friend or colleague?" using a scale of 0 to 10 to measure responses (10=extremely likely to recommend; and 0=not at all likely). Those customers who gave ratings of 9 or 10 were labeled "promoters." Mr. Reichheld concluded that creating more promoters would pave a sure path to increased growth and profitability.

Although I don't recommend replacing patient satisfaction surveys with one question, there is significant data from Mr. Reichheld's research to suggest that this one question should appear on patient surveys -- perhaps even as the first question.

New Council Defines Optometry's
Critical Role in Refractive Technology
by Ken Roddy, O.D., F.A.A.O.

As a pre-meeting to the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the Optometric Council on Refractive Technology (OCRT) held its first annual meeting with seven hours of COPE-approved education, 33 expert lecturers and more than 125 of the nation's leading optometrists and researchers in attendance.

OCRT's founder, Lou Phillips, O.D., F.A.A.O., moderated the opening session, which offered rapid-fire presentation on optometry's role in refractive technology, including what optometry schools are teaching in refractive surgery, the natural progression of refractive errors, co-management of refractive surgery patients, mobile technology and optometry ownership in refractive centers and delivery models.

Lou Catania, O.D., F.A.A.O., also moderated a discussion on Wavefront: Comparisons, Controversies and Challenges, in which attendees heard from renowned experts Ray Appelgate, O.D., Ph.D.; and Larry Thibos, O.D., Ph.D.

Paul Karpecki, O.D., F.A.A.O., moderated the next session on Corneal Refractive Technology covering LASIK versus surface ablations, diagnostic equipment and topography, conductive keratoplasty, co-management of the femtosecond laser microkeratome and the role of the mechanical keratome.

In the afternoon, Michael Twa, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O. moderated scientific and research presentations of Corneal Response to Refractive Surgery, which included a discussion of corneal wound healing, corneal biomechanics, endothelial cell function in corneal and intraocular refractive surgery, infections in refractive surgery, outcomes for myopic LASIK in FDA-approved lasers and pupil size and functional optical zones. The day ended with a session on refractive IOLs, moderated by Marc Bloomenstein, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Thirteen O.D.s formed OCRT in February 2002 with the vision of providing optometry with world-class education in refractive technologies used in spectacles, contact lenses and surgery. The group is already planning for next year's meeting to surpass the first and to include the latest in research, FDA-approved technologies and clinical experience. For information about joining OCRT, contact Dr. Phillips at


Study Examines Child's Inner Vision

The Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) will assess the effects of glasses and contact lenses on the self-perception of myopic children ages eight to 11. The three-year, multi-center, randomized clinical study, which is currently underway, involves researchers at the Ohio State University College of Optometry who will examine how vision correction choice influences academic and athletic competence, social acceptance, behavior and overall self-perception. Researchers include optometrists, pediatricians and child psychologists who will study the 484 children enrolled in the study.

To date, the children were randomly assigned to wear glasses or soft contact lenses. The ACHIEVE study builds on a pilot study that concluded that children ages eight to 11 can successfully wear and care for contact lenses. The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care supports the study with an educational grant.


Research and O.D.s Promoted

At the American Academy of Optometry, Bausch & Lomb announced the dates for its 2005 Visionaries program, which recognizes optometrists and ophthalmologists who are making great contributions in public service clinical research, and innovative technologies or treatments. The winners share equally in a $150,000 donation to the vision-related charities of their choice.

Optometrists may nominate colleagues by the April 22 deadline. For more information or to apply, visit

B&L also released the results of a study that confirmed that Acuvue Advance silicone hydrogel contact lenses are compatible with B&L's ReNu with MoistureLoc multi-purpose solution. Researchers subjected 12 lenses to 30 repeated cycles with the MPS. All changes to the physical parameters of the lenses were within ISO specifications.


CIBA and Essilor Create Management and Business Academy

CIBA Vision and Essilor of America have partnered to develop the Management & Business Academy (MBA), a program to help eyecare practitioners develop financial success in their practices.

A new look for retail shelves.

A 12-hour instructional program, the MBA curriculum will include lectures and workshops on such topics as goal setting and financial measurement, increasing patient loyalty, eyewear product mix and patient presentation skills. Participants will receive a self-diagnostic tool that will allow them to benchmark their processes and financial performance to norms for all optometrists and high-performance practices.

Sessions will be held in Atlanta and Dallas and are by invitation only. The MBA faculty includes Neil Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A.; Gary Gerber, O.D.; Jerry Hayes, O.D.; and Peter Shaw-McMinn, O.D.

In addition, CIBA announced new packaging designs for AQuify, Clear Care and AOSEPT brands. The company developed the designs based on research with consumers to ensure that they will drive greater consumer preference and trial.

CIBA's latest silicone hydrogel lens, O2Optix, will become the first contact lens advertised during the Super Bowl. The company plans to continue with print, online and broadcast advertising for O2Optix and Night &Day.


Prize Valued at $135,000

Starting in January 2005, Ideopia, Haag-Streit USA and Boucher Communications (publisher of Optometric Management) will join forces to offer an optometrist a $135,000 marketing makeover. This package includes $100,000 in both advertising and Web creative services from Ideopia and $35,000 worth of Haag-Streit equipment.

OM will report on the makeover regularly in 2005.

For information or to enter the contest, visit


Allergan Presents Benefits of Refresh

At the American Academy of Optometry, Allergan announced the results of studies that demonstrate the benefits of Refresh brand tears.

The Effect of Artificial Tear Composition on Tear Film Break-up Time (TBUT) compared Refresh Liquigel lubricant eye drops to two other brands of artificial tears. The study indicates that Liquigel (1.0% carboxymethylcellulose, or CMC) protects the ocular surface for a longer time than 0.3% hydroxy-propyl methylcellulose, and 0.5% carboxymethylcellulose.

Tear Thickening and Duration of Effect with Different Lubricant Eyedrops concluded that increasing tear film thickness provides an improved barrier to ocular surface desiccation. The study demonstrates that tear thickness remained elevated for 10 to 15 minutes following the installation of Liquigel compared to baseline and other drops tested.

Can Polyhexanide Preservative Staining be ameliorated in Vivo implies that a pre-installation drop may reduce corneal staining resulting from disinfection with a polyhexanide multi-purpose solution. The results are consistent with a proposed mechanism for CMC to neutralize catatonic disinfectants on the eye.

Complete Study Guide

At, you'll find summaries of all the research presented during the American Academy of Optometry annual press conference. Log on to this "Online Exclusive" for a wealth of diverse research.


Lens Promotion is Coming Your Way

A new Transitions Optical promotion invites eyecare practitioners (ECPs) to experience the benefits of the new Transitions V lenses for themselves, then rewards them for demonstrating the lenses to patients. The program begins with invitations to more than 10,000 select ECPs this month asking them to contact their Platinum Elite STAR Laboratory, manufacturer or Transitions Solutions Team representative to request a voucher for a complimentary trial pair of the Transitions V lenses. Six weeks after receiving their trial pair, participants will receive a survey asking about their experience with the lenses.

With the new demonstration tools that Transitions will send in February, ECPs can conduct the "Transitions' Challenge" with patients. The tools include a brochure with two film panels in the shape of lenses that appear identical, except that one activates when exposed to ultra-violet light, while the other does not.

In the next step, beginning in March, Transitions will reward ECPs for using the Transitions Challenge demonstration tools with patients with the "Collect & Win Game." Each demonstration brings the ECP a game card, which may reveal in instant win prize, or practitioners and their staffs may earn additional prizes by collecting board game pieces (letters that spell Transitions) from each game card. For more information, call (800) 848-1506, or contact your Transitions Solutions Team representative or Platinum Elite STAR Lab.



AMD treatment approved. At press time, the FDA approved Macugen (pegaptanib sodium injection), the first in a new class of ophthalmic drugs, for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.

Prescription eyeglass market looking up. According to the Vision Council of America, the prescription eyewear market is showing a moderate rebound for the first time in four months. Demand for contact lenses rose 2.5% for October 2004 over September, and eyeglasses rose 1.5% from the previous month.

License extended for dry eye drop. ISTA Pharmaceuticals has licensed the U.S. marketing rights for ecabet sodium from Senji Pharmaceuticals. This prescription eye drop is currently in phase II testing in Japan.


Wavefront-Guided Hyperopia Tx

The FDA has given its first approval for a wavefront-guided laser treatment of hyperopia. The FDA approved the VISX WaveScan diagnosis and CustomVue treatment of patients who have hyperopia with and without astigmatism up to +3.00D MRSE, with cylinder up to +2.00D.

The VISX clinical study results exceeded all of the FDA-required parameters for safe and effective laser vision correction. A six-month evaluation of clinical study participants showed that more than four times as many people were very satisfied with their night vision after the VISX CustomVue hyperopia procedure, compared to their night vision before with glasses or contacts.

AQuify for All Schedules

The FDA has given marketing clearance to CIBA Vision to expand AQuify 5 Minute Multi-Purpose Solution's no-rub, four-hour soak indication to use with all lens wearing schedules. Patients can use AQuify 5 Minute MPS either with a quick, 10-second rub and a five-minute soak or a four-hour soak and no rub.

Approval for B&L Drug, Lens

Bausch & Lomb received FDA approval for an enhanced fitting guide for its Vision Shaping Treatment, a corneal reshaping lens worn overnight to correct myopia and low amounts of astigmatism. The lens uses B&L's patented Boston Equalens II brand GP material.

B&L also received approval of its New Drug Application for the combination drug Zylet (loteprednol etabonate 0.5% and tobramy-cin 0.3% ophthalmic suspension), which is indicated for the treatment of steroid-responsive inflammatory ocular conditions where a corticosteroid is indicated and superficial bacterial ocular infection or a risk of infection exists.

The prescription eye drop will be available domestically in the first quarter of 2005 in three sizes: 2.5mL, 5mL and 10ml. Zylet is the first ophthalmic corticosteroid/antibiotic combination approved by FDA in more than 15 years.


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2005