Article Date: 7/1/2005

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

Good Day Sunshine

A number of recent studies touting the benefits of sun exposure have caused mixed reactions in the medical community. While none conclude that you should sit and bake in the sun, scientists have discovered the Vitamin D we get from sunshine can help prevent and even treat some forms of cancer. Several studies found it protects against lymphoma, cancers of the prostate, lung, colon, and ironically, skin. Vitamin D also stifles abnormal cell growth, helps cells die at the appropriate time and curbs the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.

Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a Harvard University professor of medicine and nutrition, presented his findings at the Harvard School of Public Health's 5th Annual Symposium in Nutrition. He says spending 15 minutes in the sun a few times a week without sunscreen is beneficial. The American Cancer Society is reviewing its sun-protection guidelines.

Some doctors worry that patients will use any excuse to get more sun exposure. Why not take supplements to reach adequate levels of Vitamin D? Most supplements use an old form of the vitamin, D-2, which is far less potent than D-3. Multivitamins contain only small doses of D-2 and include vitamin A, which offsets many of D's benefits.

However, it's difficult to quantify the value of vitamin D. There's a lack of consensus on how much vitamin D is necessary. Most scientists believe adults need 1,000 IU of vitamin D/day, but Giovannucci's research suggests 1,500 IU/day may be necessary to significantly curb cancer. Sunscreen blocks Vitamin D production.

This is a good time to remind patients that their eyes always need protection from the sun's rays, whether their skin needs it or not.


ICO's "Vision of Hope" for Needy

In a Chicago healthcare program that serves uninsured, low-income adults, optometry serves as the entry point. The Illinois College of Optometry's Vision of Hope Health Alliance program takes a holistic approach to healthcare and addresses a common problem: Lower income patients who often seek treatment for vision problems (because poor vision interferes with daily activities) may not seek treatment for chronic health conditions.

"The Vision of Hope Health Alliance takes down the barriers that limit entry into the health system," says Arol Augsburger, O.D., president of ICO. "Under the program, optometry takes a leadership role in detecting disease and facilitating treatment."

The Alliance includes a network of community health and service agency partners that include federally-qualified health centers, addiction treatment and housing organizations. Caseworkers assist the patients in coordinating treatment and follow-up care as well as providing critical services such as transportation to appointments.

Recently, the program was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. With matching grants from local sources, the program will receive $1million in funding over four years and serve some 4,000 patients.

Dr. Augsburger says that the Alliance is a response to the call set by the AOA's "Healthy Eyes, Healthy People," program. "The Alliance isn't rhetoric," he says. "It establishes an effective healthcare model that can be duplicated in other communities."

Essilor to Acquire J&J's Lens Business

Essilor announced that it has signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to purchase its ophthalmic lens business, The Spectacle Lens Group. That division developed the Definity brand of progressive lenses. Essilor says that it will continue to market Definity and distribute the brand in the United States. The transaction should close in the third quarter.



New CEO for Lighthouse. Lighthouse International last month appointed Tara Cortes, R.N., Ph.D., its new president and chief executive officer. Dr. Cortes previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Patient Care Operations, Bridgeport Hospital, Yale New Haven Health Care System.


Partnership enhances online shopping. Vision-Ease Lens's polycarbonate and glass eyewear lenses will be featured on Eyefinity's Web site, according to a new partnership the two companies formed.

Gerber Coburn, Essilor continue agreement. Gerber Coburn signed a three-year distribution agreement with Essilor Instruments, a division of Essilor International. Gerber Coburn will continue to distribute Essilor's lens finishing products exclusively in North America and Australia and market-specific products worldwide. It will also continue to work closely with Essilor Instruments to develop and manufacture lens finishing systems.

First pair of wavefront-guided lenses introduced. Ophthonix Inc. sold its first pair of iZon Wavefront Guided lenses, based on the company's Z-View technology. Ophthonix

Corrections & Clarifications:

In the article, "Strategic Skill Builders: 10 Reasons to Fit Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses," in our May issue, we incorrectly identified Noel Brennan as Mr. Brennan; he is Dr. Brennan. OM regrets the error.

Also in the May issue, in the article "The Ins and Outs of Glaucoma Imaging Devices," the name of Heidelberg Engineering was misspelled. Again, OM regrets the error.

Loan Program Hits Milestone

The Vision One Loan Program has hit the $5 million mark in loans funded to private-practice eye doctors who became practice owners. The program, funded by Vision Service Plan (VSP) and administered by Vision One Credit Union, provides loans for optometrists who lack the equity necessary to qualify for many small business loans.

The program is available in eight states — Idaho, Oregon, California, Ohio, Colorado, Indiana, Washington and Texas. The funds may be used as equity support and payments may be deferred for 24 months to help offset transition risk and related potential cash shortfalls. The program also provides loans for O.D.s buying into a private practice partnership or corporation.

Additional information is available at undergoes a makeover

Santinelli presents its completely renovated Web site at An expanded menu facilitates navigation of the site, including tab choices to explore leasing options, provide analysis worksheets and client services information. Visitors can request additional information, offer comments and inquire about a free one-week product trial though the site.


It's All in the Angle

According to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, knowing the correct angle at which to hold your eye drop bottle when administering medication can save you up to three bottles of medication a year. With compliance frequently a problem in glaucoma treatment, and medication cost often a serious issue for patients, researchers evaluated the maximum number of drops obtained in once-a-day treatments in order to maximize patient value.

Researchers included 2.5 mL bottles of Travatan, Xalatan and Lumigan in the study. Bottles were held vertically (90°), at an angle (45°) and as horizontal as possible (0°). Travatan had 81, 103 and 102 drops respectively. Xalatan had 92, 90 and 65 drops per bottle, and Lumigan 112, 105 and 78. Based on an average wholesale price of $62.19, $58.38 and $62.10 for Travatan, Xalatan and Lumigan, respectively, the study found that patients could save from $176 to $188 per year by holding Travatan at a 45° angle and Xalatan and Lumigan at 90° over the eye. This translated to approximately two additional bottles a year for Xalatan and three additional bottles for Travatan and Lumigan.

One researcher explained that the number of drops in a bottle depends on the design and size of the bottle tip; the viscosity, density and chemical composition of the liquid; and the way in which a person holds and applies pressure to the bottle walls. And because the conjunctival sack of the lower lid holds about 10 to 15 mL and an eye drop of solution contains approximately 35 to 55 mL, a smaller drop is a more efficient drop, with less wasted in run off. Allergan co-sponsored the study.


Sports Contact Lens Ok'd for U.S.

The FDA approved the Nike MAXSIGHT Sport-tinted Contact Lens by Bausch & Lomb for daily wear for the correction of myopia and hyperopia. The polymacon lens is designed to aid visual performance in athletic settings through its Light Architecture optics, which filters specific wavelengths of light within the visual spectrum to enhance key visual elements. Thus, the wearer can see an object such as a ball with greater clarity, while sun glare is reduced.

B&L says it will launch the Nike MAXSIGHT in the United States and Europe later this summer. It will be available in two tints: gray-green, designed for sports played in bright sunlight, such as gold, football, running and rugby; and amber, designed for fast-moving ball sports played in variable light such as soccer, tennis, baseball and softball. B&L codeveloped the contact lens with Nike Inc; B&L will manufacture it and market it to eyecare professionals, while Nike will conduct consumer marketing activities.


Optometric Management, Issue: July 2005