Article Date: 6/1/2005

Practice Pulse
TIPS, TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE

OPTOMETRY PRACTICE ACT AMENDED
Tennessee Requires Rx for Plano Lenses

In response to a number of reported incidents in which young women harmed their eyes by wearing plano contact lenses bought from retailers, Tennessee has passed a law requiring a prescription to purchase the lenses. "The young ladies purchased the lenses for cosmetic reasons," explained Tennessee Optometric Association Executive Director and State Representative Gary Odor. "They had no prior contact lens-wearing experience and did not receive counseling."

Plano lenses were not regulated in Tennessee because a ruling from the FLA and an opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General held that they were not subject to the Optometry Practice Act. HE 114 amends the act, defining plano lenses as contact lenses and placing them under the existing prohibition that retailers may not order, sell or dispense contact lenses. Mr. Odor says that the state will probably do what it originally did to enforce the law - the state licensing board of optometry will write to any retailer reported to be selling plano lenses to cease and desist; a failure to comply will result in legal action.

 

EYE EXAMS MANDATES FOR CHILDREN
New Law Requires Tougher Screening

A new Arkansas law (Act 1438) aims to help prevent vision loss caused by amblyopia by requiring that all children receive a vision screening by a school nurse. Any children who fail must undergo another screening by the nurse. If the child fails a second time, he or she will be required to receive an eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

The new law tests not only distance acuity, but also near vision acuity, lateral and vertical muscle balance, binocularity and color vision. Additionally, it requires screening for kindergartners, elementary and middle school students. The new law will take effect in the 2006-2007 school year. A copy of the law is available at checkyearly.com/pdfs/ArkansasLegislationAct.pdf.

 

Did You Know?
Dry Eye Month

The National Women's Health Resource Center has declared July "Dry Eye Awareness Month." This complements the NWHRC's campaign on chronic dry eye, which affects one in 12 women over the age of 50. The center has partnered with Allergan for both events. More information and patient educational materials can be found at www.healthywomen.org, www.FocusOnDryEye.com and www.Restasis.com.

 

Price Isn't Everything
By Bob Levy, O.D.

Studies of consumer behavior indicate that only 13% of people make buying decisions based strictly on price. That means 87% of people consider price, but also look for quality care, service, convenience, a personal relationship and more from service providers.

Does it really make sense to gear your practice and fee structure to the price-conscious 13% of the population? You may drown in overhead costs trying to keep prices low enough to suit them. And by definition, they'll shop elsewhere is if they can find lower fees.

You may think that more than 13% of your community is price-conscious. Perhaps so. But even if you double the number, that leaves 74% of people who are interested in factors besides cost, still a sizable target population for your practice. Triple the figure to 39% and you could still target 61% of the population as prospective patients.

Hard learned lesson: "There's nothing wrong with competing on price," says Robert B. Tucker, author of Win the Value Revolution, "but if being the "low price leader" in your market isn't your ... strategy then flirting with price competition could become your firm's eventual death certificate."

Reality check: If price were everything, supermarket shelves would be filled with generic products priced lower than branded counterparts. Fine restaurants would be overtaken by cheap fast-food outlets. And we'd all be driving '83 Elf Casinos and shopping at Dollar General on Mother's Day.

You can't be all things to all people. So why not provide quality care, personal service, convenience and one-to-one relationships that meet the needs of the majority of people to whom price isn't everything?

NATIONAL LEGISLATION FAVORS PRESCHOOL EYE EXAMINATIONS
Congressman Introduces Children's Vision Bill

New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell last month introduced legislation that would establish a grant program to provide comprehensive eye examinations and follow-up care for children. H.R. 2238 would be available to all states and would supplement a state's efforts to test and treat children that do not have the financial means to do it themselves. It would also encourage states to educate parents about the importance of ocular health.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other medical organizations, contend that all children should receive a vision evaluation before entering school, the group says that only one in three children do so. "It is a national disgrace that only a small number of children are actually receiving the preventive care that they need in order to ensure healthy vision, Rep.

Pascrell said. "This lack of vision care places children at greater risk for permanent vision loss, as well as learning difficulties in school. Unless we act, children will continue to fall through the cracks."

 

THE FIRST DESCRIPTIVE MUSIC VIDEO
Sight-impaired Get In On Videos

Stevie Wonder is making music history with a new video that reaches out to the vision-impaired. The music video for his new song, "So What the Fuss?", contains a second, descriptive audio track, recorded by hip hop artist Busta Rhymes for people specifically designed for who are blind or have low vision. According to Universal Motown Records Group, there are two versions of the video: one is a traditional music video, serviced to music channels. The second is accompanied by a special video description technique. It will air on channels featuring SAP (Science Access Project) technology. Wonder unveiled the video at a news conference last month to reporters who were blindfolded.

"Until now, music videos have been very one dimensional for those who are blind or have low vision," Wonder said. "Now all music video fans will be able to apply their vision to my video, thanks to the descriptive technique and, of course, a great narration by Busta Rhymes."

 

Eye site

The Vision Council of America has launched www.2020advocacy.com, a source for VCA's advocacy efforts that includes news on vision issues, grassroots activities and legislative information. The site also contains research that supports vision-related legislation. Through the site, visitors can track the status of legislation, write elected representatives, download alerts for other Web sites and draft letters to submit to local newspapers.

 

VISTAKON OFFERS "ADVANCE" NEWS
Advance Lenses Receive High Ratings

Patients and eyecare professionals rated Acuvue Advance contact lenses higher than a competing silicone hydrogel lens, according to a new study.

Study participants rated Advance significantly higher in overall comfort and vision quality. Twenty-six ECPs conducted the study where the lenses were evaluated in a two-week daily-wear monadic study. Both lenses were sponsor-masked to the doctor and double-masked to patients. ECPs provided comments and ratings on perception and observation of each patient fitted at the dispensing visit and at the final visit.

In other news, Vistakon has announced that Advance contact lenses for astigmatism, the first silicone hydrogel daily wear contact lenses for astigmats, are available in 750 skus from plano to -6.00 in 0.25D steps, Cyls: -0.75, -1.25, -1.75; Axis: 90 & 180 +/- 20 (no obliques). Additional parameters will be available in July.

In addition, Vistakon recently began airing national television commercials for Acuvue Advance for Astigmatism. The ads reference the ECU and focus on the lens' ability to provide consistent, all-day vision and comfort. Patients can receive a free trial pair certificate by visiting getacuvue.com.

NEW BRAND WILL CONSIST OF SEVEN PRODUCT DIVISIONS
OptiSource Gets A New Identity

OptiSource International last month announced that it was integrating all 7,000 of its products into one recognizable brand name, "OptiSource," in the interest of clearing up any confusion among its customers. The new brand will consist of seven distinct product divisions: finishing, edging, surfacing, lens cleaners, optical tools, accessories and exam supplies. Each is represented by a graphical icon augmented with the legend, "7 Divisions, One Source," which the company will phase into all communications.

"The timing of this brand integration is perfect," says Daryl Squicciarini, vice president of OptiSource International. "We have recently completed construction of our new building ... allowing us to operate and manage all our divisions under one roof."

O.D. NOTEBOOK

COMPANY NEWS

ldvanced Medical Optics exercises its options. Advanced Medical Optics Inc. (AMO) acquired Quest Vision Technologies last month, an option granted the company as part of it's year-long research and evaluation licensing agreement with Quest for the development of accommodating IOLs. "Our research has been very productive and we are enthusiastic about the potential of Quest Vision's proprietary technology, which is distinct from others under development because it uses the concept of a shape-changing optic to provide accommodation, rather than an axial movement used in single- or dual-optic alternatives," says AMO chief executive officer Jim Mazzo.

New identity for Ophthalmic.com. The company formerly known as T.C. Ophthalmic LLC announced that it is now called Ophthalmic.com, which is also it's Web address (instead of the former refracting.com). The company says that its new web site provides eyecare professionals quick and easy access to important equipment, information and supplies for their practices. Its line of products includes used and new ophthalmic equipment.

Eyefinity integrates. Eyefinity announced that it will integrate its online services into Crowell Systems's Medformix Practice Management Software. The move provides Medformix users with access to Eyefinity online services for VSP.

PEOPLE

OccuLogix gets new BOD member. Santen appointed that its chief executive officer, Adrienne L. Graves, Ph.D., to OccuLogix's board of directors.

Volk promotes one of its own. Volk Optical announced that it has promoted Steve Cech to the position of Vice President of Research and Development and appointed him to the company's board of directors. Cech joined Volk last year as Manager of R&D.

MARKETING & COMPANY PROMOTIONS

Demonstration tools
The Carat Advantage sales package from Carl Zeiss contains several tools to help partner labs introduce new products to eye care professionals.

For more information, go to www.zeiss.com/lenses/

Satisfaction Guaranteed
Imperial Optical announces its Contact Lens Success program guarantee: Practitioners can get a full refund on up to two opened, and partially used boxes of the company's disposable contact lenses if patients aren't satisfied, or convert to another product. Whether you order one box or eight, Imperial will credit the entire order when the unopened boxes are returned with the partially used box or boxes. Lenses must be returned within 90 days of original shipment.

For details, go to www.imperialoptical.com/contactlenssuccessprogramguarantee.aspx.

PSA EDUCATES THOSE LIVING WITH LOW VISION
Check Yearly's Latest Outreach

Check Yearly. See Clearly. has launched a print public service announcement (PSA) urging caregivers and family members of those with low vision to seek the advice of an eyecare professional for options on living with the problem. The PSA directs readers to a toll-free low vision hotline (1-800-455-8006) and to the low vision section of the Check Yearly Web site (checkyearly.com/lowvision). Check Yearly says that it will distribute the PSA to approximately 7,000 media outlets, including daily and weekly newspapers, trade journals and consumer magazines.

Additionally, VCA's Low Vision Division will promote the PSA by using customized versions as advertising slicks and distributing copies to their accounts.

 

OCUSOURCE OFFERS VIRTUAL EXHIBIT HALL
Taking A Conference to The Vision-Impaired

OcuSource.com recently presented its first online conference for the visually impaired and the service providers who support them. OcuSource Expo was created, company chief executive officer Dr. Lou Lipschultz explains, to address the access issue that he believes keeps so many who suffer from

some form of vision loss away from vision impairment trade shows.

The "exhibit halls" feature "booths" staffed by vendors, agencies and organizations. Each conference booth has its own online voice-chat and presentation room. For more information, go to ocusource.com/expo/expo.cfm.

 

HEALTH Notes

AMD Linked to Genetic Mutation
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Iowa believe AMD occurs when a common inherited gene variation is triggered, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study examined 900 AMD patients and 400 healthy controls. Results showed nearly half of all AMD patients had an inherited pattern of genetic variants in the Factor H gene. This gene is responsible for encoding protein to regulate immune defense against infections. Patients with an inherited variation in this gene are less able to control inflammation, which may spark AMD later in life, according to the study.

The results of the study suggest targeting molecules involved in immune system response may provide powerful new therapies for treating and preventing AMD. Some options now under investigation include extracting stem cells from the eye so they could be reengineered and re-implanted; delivering healthy Factor H to the eye to short-circuit the disease; and partial transplantation of the liver, the body's main source of Factor H.

Diabetes and Dry Eye
According to Jeffrey Gilbard, M.D., if you have diabetes, there's about a 50/50 chance you also have dry eye — the result of decreased corneal sensation that is often associated with diabetic retinopathy. Studies have shown consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids can provide dry eye relief. Dr. Gilbard is the inventor of TheraTears Nutrition for Dry Eyes, an Omega-3 supplement with flaxseed oil, fish oil and Vitamin E.

B&L MAKES FITTING TORIC CONTACT LENSES EASIER
Online Calculator For Toric CL Patients

Bausch & Lomb has introduced a free online calculator to further simplify the process of fitting its SofLens 66 Toric contact lenses. To determine the most appropriate lens for a patient, eyecare practitioners just enter the patient's best sphero-cylindrical refraction or spectacle prescription, and the appropriate vertex distance. The company says that the software application also automatically adjusts the spherical equivalent when selecting the nearest available cylinder power in the SofLens 66 Toric range. You can access the B&L calculator at Bausch.com

ART OPTICAL TO MANUFACTURE AND DISTRIBUTE THE BE
New Lens to Meet Ortho-K Demand

Art Optical announced the addition of the BE Retainer for Optimal Orthokeratology to its product line. The BE is one of the GP contact lenses approved for the ortho-k procedure, and Art Optical is an authorized manufacturer of Bausch & Lomb's Vision Shaping Treatment (VST) program. The company says the BE is unique in that it is a software-driven fitting system. Further, as a screening tool, the BE Studio Software predicts the amount of refractive change in the patient's cornea that is possible, as well as the treatment zone size for each patient.

 



Optometric Management, Issue: June 2005