Article Date: 5/1/2005

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Amblyopia treatment may benefit older children

Older children who suffer from amblyopia stand a better chance of benefiting from treatment than previously thought, according to a study published in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. The nationwide clinical trial showed that many children aged 7 to 17 with amblyopia may benefit from treatments more commonly used on younger children. The findings challenge the belief, previously held by many in eye care, that this population was untreatable.

Researchers divided 507 children into two groups. One group was fitted with new prescription glasses only. The other group was fitted with glasses as well as an eye patch, or the eye patch along with special eye drops, to limit the use of the unaffected eye. These children were also asked to perform near-vision activities. The patching, eye drops and near activities force the child to use the amblyopic eye. Patching was prescribed for periods of two to six hours daily; the eye drops were administered daily for the children seven through years old.

The investigators defined successful vision improvement as the ability to read (with the amblyopic eye) at least two or more lines on a standard eye chart. They found that 53% of children age 7 to 12 years who received glasses and patch treatment and near activity met this standard, versus only 25% of those children in the same age group who received only glasses. For children age 13 through 17 years who were treated with both glasses and patches (this group did not receive drops), 25% met the standard, versus 23% of children of these ages who received only glasses. Further, the study showed that among children age 13 through 17 years who had not been previously treated for amblyopia, 47% who were treated with glasses, patching and near activity improved two or more lines compared with only 20% of those treated with spectacle correction alone. However, most children, including those who responded to treatment, were left with some visual impairment.

"This study shows that age alone should not be used as a factor to decide whether or not to treat a child for amblyopia," says Mitchell M. Scheiman, O.D., study co-chair. "The opportunity to treat amblyopia does not end with the pre-school years. The National Eye Institute, which funded this study, is supporting a one-year follow-up study to determine the percentage of amblyopia that recurs among the children who responded well to treatment.

Brand-Name Drug Prices Rise

The average price increase manufacturers charged for name-brand drugs significantly outpaced inflation for the fifth consecutive year, says the AARP's latest "Rx Watchdog Report." Moreover, claims "Trends in Manufacturer Prices of Brand-Name Prescription Drugs Used by Older Americans -- 2004 Year-End Update," last year's increase was the largest. The report describes changes in the prices prescription-drug manufacturers charged wholesalers in 2004 for 195 brand-name prescription drugs widely used by Americans aged 50 and older.

According to AARP, manufacturers of 153 of these brand-name drugs have raised their prices more than two-and-a-half times the rate of general inflation since 1999 (manufacturers' drug prices rose 35.1% on average, versus an inflation rate of 13.5%). The study found that the average price increase last year was 7.1%; compared with the 2004 general inflation rate of 2.7%.

What is the association's response? "We are disappointed that brand-name manufacturers have failed to keep their price increases in line with inflation despite consumer appeals for them to hold the line," says AARP chief executive officer Bill Novelli. "AARP has introduced evidence-based research to our members through the AARP Web site that will help patients choose the most cost-effective medication for their needs." Copies of 2004's "Rx Watchdog Report" are available at


Check Yearly Reaches Out

Continuing its effort to persuade Americans of the importance of regular vision care, the Check Yearly campaign is launching a multi-year, multi-media public service announcement (PSA) campaign in June. The campaign will address a different health topic every two years and will begin with children's vision and learning. A television commercial will anchor the campaign, but the PSAs will also use radio, print and Internet placements.

Check Yearly launched its campaign to increase the number of Americans who receive regular eye care in March 2002 and claims to have been successful. The American Optometric Association reports that in the past year, it has measured a decrease in the time between eye exams as reported by its members.

Check Yearly. See Clearly. named seven-year-old Kennedy Biederman of Appleton, Wis., its National Youth Amblyopia Spokesperson. Despite several examinations by her pediatrician and participation in school vision screenings, no one noticed that Kennedy couldn't see out of her left eye. It wasn't until her first visit to an eye doctor that she was diagnosed with amblyopia in her left eye and vision of only 20/80 in her right eye.

According to Check Yearly., only 25% of American children receive a simple vision screening at a physician's office or school, and these screenings often fail to identify amblyopia and other serious vision problems.


B&L's PureVision okay'd

The FDA approved Bausch & Lomb's PureVision Toric contact lens for correction of myopia and/or hyperopia with astigmatism of up to 5.00 D. The PureVision is made from a patented silicone hydrogel material, balafilcon A and is visibly tinted. It's designed for monthly replace-ment and approved for either daily wear or up to 30-day continuous wear. The company will introduce the PureVision to U.S. markets this summer.

Uveitis drug approved

The FDA last month granted approval to Retisert (fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant), 0.59 mg, for the treatment of chronic non-infectious uveitis affecting the posterior segment of the eye. The single-indication orphan drug is the first intravitreal drug implant for the treatment of this condition, B&L says. Retisert's patented drug-delivery microtechnology consists of a tiny drug reservoir designed to deliver sustained levels of the anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, fluocinolone acetonide, for approximately two-and-a-half years (30 months) directly to the back of the eye. B&L plans a mid-year launch for the drug.

SECO Elects New Officers

SECO International elected a new slate of officers at its recent annual House of Delegates meeting in Atlanta. Dr. Lowell Gilbert, of Colonial Heights, Va., is the new president; Dr. Gilbert was named Optometrist of the Year for 1993 by the Virginia Optometric Association and received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 1999. Additionally, he was appointed to the Virginia State Board of Optometry by Governor George Allen and the Virginia Board f Health Professions by Governor James Gilmore.

The other new officers are as follows: Sidney J. Stern, O.D., President-Elect; Douglas C. Clark, O.D.., Vice President; Wilburn Lord, Jr., O.D., Treasurer; Jonathan L. Shrewsbury, O.D., Secretary; and Richard W. Phillips, O.D., Immediate Past President.

Health Notes

Video Game Detects Amblyopia

Jim O'Neil, M.D., of The Amblyopia Foundation of America, created a video game, called VisionQuest 20/20, that uses 3-D glasses and a computer to detect amblyopia in children as young as the age of five. As a patient continues to play the game, the letters change and get smaller. For more information, visit

Detecting Parkinson's with Cocaine Eye Drops?

Researchers in Japan conducted a small study of 38 Parkinson's patients, 20 controls and 10 individuals who have multiple system atrophy. After recording a baseline pupil diameter for all participants, the researchers then gave them phenylephrine solution in both eyes. The researchers again recorded the subjects' pupil diameter 60 minutes later. After at least 72 hours, the researchers placed the same amount of a 5% cocaine solution in each participant's eyes and recorded the pupil diameters one hour later. They claim that they could accurately identify people who have Parkinson's disease by comparing the amount of pupil dilation caused by the ophthalmic eye drop to dilation from the cocaine eye drop. At present, there is no clear way to diagnose Parkinson's and the researchers admit that their findings are far from definitive, but their eye drop test could serve as a potential tool for the disease.

PBA to Research Financial Impact of Vision Loss

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) is launching a national "Cost of Visual Impairment Research Study" to quantify the actual financial impact that vision loss has on individuals as well as on government and insurance agencies. According to a PBA representative, the study is in initial planning stages but will commence in the upcoming few months and is expected to take about 18 to 22 months to complete, at which time the findings will be revealed.


Web site links consumers to CV specialists

Prio recently launched "Find a doctor" locator system on its Web site, designed to help consumers find an eyecare practitioner who specializes in computer vision care in their area. At, patients need only type in their zip code to find addresses and phone numbers of computer vision specialists within their area. Most eyecare doctors still rely on methods from the 18th century to diagnose a 21st-century vision problem, Prio says, yet today an estimated 90% of all computer users suffer from symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. "It is critical that the computer-user have an accurate computer exam because a small miscorrection can cause a significant decrease in productivity and comfort," says Jon Torrey, president and chief executive officer of Prio.


The Coach custom-designed Vespa motor scooter that the Optical Women's Association (OWA) auctioned off a on eBay recently fetched $4,000, the group reported. The proceeds will fund OWA's new  Professional Optical Women Workshops, to be launched during the International Vision Expo West meeting in Las Vegas in September.

Database is new & improved, an online resource dedicated to vision impairment and vision rehabilitation, has partnered with Lighthouse International, the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, to enhance its searchable database. The expanded "Help Near You" allows users to search more than 5,000 vision rehabilitation services, low vision clinics, practices, support groups and various educational, governmental and financial resources for the blind and partially sighted worldwide. New features include information on more than 1,000 low-vision practitioners and the ability to search by age group and key word in addition to service category and proximity. Also, practitioners and organizations can now submit and update their own data online.

Can't Get Enough Jack?

The Southern College of Optometry is offering copies of Dr. Jack Runninger's You'll Do Great if You Communicate for sale. The book is a collection of 120 of Dr. Runninger's "humorously instructive" columns on the theme of communicating effectively within the optometric practice. Says Bob Koetting, O.D., "Mark Twain and Will Rogers left this world before Runninger's readers even came into it, and that is reason enough for us to enjoy those funny events he uses to make serious points."

"A collection of his [Dr. Runninger's] writings must prove invaluable for both the merit of its information and the pleasure of its whimsy," adds Irv Borish, O.D. To purchase the book, call (800) 238-0180 x4, or go to See page 26 for Dr. Runninger's latest column.



l Industry leader honored. The New York Children's Vision Council Coalition announced that it will present this year's Optical Leadership Award to Richard Elias, president of Transitions Optical and vice president of Optical Products, PPG Industries.

l New V.P. at CIBA. CIBA Vision appointed Erich Bauman, O.D., F.A.A.O., vice president for the business responsible for marketing, new product development, customer service and general business performance, Global Specialty Lens Business. Dr. Bauman was previously General Manager of CIBA's Benelux operation.

l Imperial Optical welcomes 5,000th ECP. Wholesale contact lens distributor Imperial Optical Inc. welcomed Paul Berman, O.D., F.A.A.O., of Hackensack, N.J., as its 5,000th eyecare practitioner to join its strategic partner network. To commemorate the event, Imperial Optical established the Imperial Optical/Dr. Paul Berman Scholarship Fund at the SUNY College of Optometry.

l Ophthonix hires CFO. Ophthonix Inc. hired Thomas A. George as its new chief financial officer (CFO) to oversee all financial controls, organizations and relationships. Prior to joining Ophthonix, Mr. George was CFO at Oakley Inc.

l Founder of Optos wins award. Optos Inc.'s founder and executive vice chairman, Douglas Anderson, received the 2004 Scottish Life Sciences Award for a Leading Individual Contribution. Anderson received the award for his work developing the Optomap Retinal Exam in 1992.

l New team member at Optical Connection. Optical Connection Inc. appointed David Yesnes its Executive Director of Key Accounts. He'll be responsible for sales growth within key accounts throughout North America.


l Contex campaigns for OK lens. Contex Inc. launched a certification campaign for the Overnight OK Lens, which recently received FDA approval under the Bausch & Lomb Vision Shaping Treatment (VST) approval. Contex will host training and certification programs for both the VST and OK E-Systems. For further information, contact Contex at (800) 626-6839 or

l Optos expands. Optos Inc. has opened two new offices, in Overland Park, Kan., and Carlsbad, Calif., as part of an effort to support the company's rapid growth in those regions.

l Aquify now available in bonus pack. For a limited time, CIBA Vision is offering a free 2 mL bottle of Aquify Long-Lasting Comfort Drops with it's 12-oz. Size Aquify 5 Minute MPS. The promotion is available in retail stores throughout the United States.

l Unilens is buying. Unilens Corp., USA, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilens Vision Inc. acquired the Aquaflex and Softcon EW soft contact lens product lines from CIBA Vision. The Lombart lens division of Unilens Corp., USA, will market and distribute the lenses under the existing product names.

l Eyefinity integrates. Eyefinity announced the integration of its online services into Diversified Ophthalmic's Practice Maximus Practice Management Software. The integration provides Practice Maximus users with access to Eyefinity online services.

l Unilens, IDOC join forces. According to a new partnership agreement, Unilens Corp. will provide customized marketing programs for specialty contact lenses to IDOC (Independent Doctors of Optometric Care) members. Programs will include special event and medical symposium sponsorships, as well as cooperative marketing campaigns and materials designed to increase sales of the C-VUE multifocal specialty contact lenses.

l ABB Optical has new facility. ABB Optical reports that its new 26,000 square-foot distribution center is now fully operational. It also has distribution centers in Florida and California, providing next-day delivery on most contact lens orders.


l Faculty at the 2005 American Society of Corneal and Refractive Technologies includes Joseph T. Barr, O.D.; Marc R. Bloomenstein, O.D., F.A.A.O.; Patrick Caroline, C.O.T., F.C.L.S.A., F.A.A.O.; Stephen Cohen, O.D., F.A.A.O.; Desmond Fonn, O.D., F.A.A.O.; Penny Asbell, M.D., M.B.A.; Bruce Williams, O.D.; Marjorie Rah, O.D., Ph.D.; Lee E. Rigel, O.D., F.A.A.O.; Nicholas Despotidis, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.; Rick Potvin, M.A.S.c., O.D.; and Randall Sakamoto, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O.


Optometric Management, Issue: May 2005