Article Date: 9/1/2005

practice pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

LEGISLATION NOW AWAITS HOUSE VOTE
Senate Approves Decorative Contact Lens Safety Bill

The United States Senate unanimously approved the decorative contact lens safety bill, S. 172, before the August recess. S. 172 would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cosmetic or "plano" contact lenses as medical devices, just as it does prescription lenses. The FDA has issued warnings to consumers and acknowledged reports of corneal ulcers associated with this type of lens wear beginning in 2003.

The American Optometric Association, Prevent Blindness America and the Contact Lens Institute, among other groups, support this effort to protect Americans from unnecessary eye injuries caused by the misuse of plano cosmetic lenses. Representative John Boozman, O.D., (R-Ark.) is the prime sponsor for a companion bill pending before the House, H.R. 371.

LARGEST SUM EVER AWARDED IN LASIK CASE
$7.25 Million Awarded in Verdict

A former Wall Street investment banker has been awarded $7.25 million in a civil suit after a jury found that laser eye surgery permanently damaged his vision.

The verdict came down in Manhattan Supreme Court and is thought to be the largest amount ever awarded in a LASIK-related case. A former airline pilot was awarded $4 million by an Arizona jury several years ago when he contended that complications from LASIK ruined his night vision and left him unable to fly.

Yale graduate Mark Schiffer, 32, claimed that the poor surgical outcome of a procedure performed by Mark G. Speaker, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S., in October 2000 forced him to abandon his Wall Street career and take a job working for his father. Schiffer's lawyer successfully argued that his client had keratoconus, which made him an unsuitable candidate for LASIK. He also argued that Dr. Speaker "departed from accepted standards of ophthalmological care" when he performed the surgery. The award is being appealed.

 

 
 

I have participated in free vision screenings for children.

Yes:    80.4%   (181 votes)

No:    19.6%   (44 votes)

In a recent OM Quick Poll, 80.4% or respondents said that they had donated their services in free vision screenings for children.

THE ELDERLY REQUIRE REGULAR VISION CARE
The Case Against Drug Store Reading Glasses

Optometrists should caution elderly patients not to rely on "drug store" reading glasses as a substitute for professional vision care, argues an item in the July 2005 issue of Optometry and Visual Science. The reason: In patients more than 50 years of age, the difference between both eyes — in terms of astigmatism, hyperopia and refractive error — "is likely to increase quite significantly" and is not addressed by readers.

These differences grow greater as patients age. Almost 20% of those over the age of 85 have at least 2D of astigmatism. Research finds anisometropia three to eight times greater in the elderly when compared with younger adults. Stereopsis is 10 times worse in the oldest Americans (over age 85) vs. young adults.

In addition, studies have also shown that of patients with binocular visual acuities of 20/40 or worse, 44% improved one line or more of Snellen acuity when an eye doctor updated their refractive error.

Add to the equation age-related eye disease such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, and there is strong evidence that regular eye care is critical for older Americans. Readers or any other measures that reduce "the likelihood of receiving this regular care is not good for our patients and has to be a concern," writes author Anthony Adams, the journal's editor in chief.

WHEN RAISES GO BEYOND THE INFLATION RATE
Avoid "Salary Creep" in Your Practice

Service reviews shouldn't mean automatic raises, say Donna Suter, president of Suter Consulting Group, and Marilee Blackwell, president of Blackwell Consulting. Routinely giving raises above the inflation rate may cause you to experience "salary creep." (According to InflationData.com, the national inflation rate from Jan. 1, 2004 through Dec. 31, 2004 was 2.75%.) Once you raise someone above fair market value, it's very difficult to cut wages without losing the employee. They advise using a performance review to determine raises. Measure results against expectations, reflecting on performance history and setting markers in the future to guide improvement. Use this format:

Consider a performance improvement plan if there are deficiencies. Intuitive human resources software makes performance reviews quick. (One source: Employee Appraiser Deluxe from www.natsem.com). Be sure to determine fair market value wages before deciding on annual raises — two sources are Salary.com and Monster.com.

CONSULTING NEWS
Gailmard Branches into Consulting

Neil Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A., has created Gailmard Consulting, a new management-consulting firm for eyecare practitioners. The firm uses "teleconsulting," (phone, e-mail and photography) to save clients thousands of dollars by not requiring an on-site visit by the consultant. The firm then creates a "Comprehensive Practice Report" and "Management Action Plan" for its clients. Visit Gailmardconsulting.com for more information. Dr. Gailmard is a contributor to OM.

BLINDNESS REPORTED RARELY
FDA Approves New Labeling for Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

The FDA recently approved new labeling to warn men about possible blindness from drugs for erectile dysfunction (Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra). FDA officials admit that they don't know if the drugs cause blindness.

This new labeling states that non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) has been reported rarely in patients who use erectile dysfunction drugs.

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, agreed to change its labeling, but said it found no evidence of increased risk of blindness in any of the 103 clinical trials that tested Viagra. Thirty-eight cases of NAION in Viagra users have been reported to the FDA. More than 27 million men have used Viagra.

Risk factors for NAION include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and an age of more than 50 years. These traits are also commonly found in patients with erectile dysfunction. NAION is a common cause of sudden vision loss in older Americans.

According to the National Eye Institute, about 6,000 people develop NAION each year. The chance that the drugs may lead to NAION was first made public earlier this year in an article in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology.

Getting the word out on dry eye

Allergan has launched the Web site, FocusonDryEye.com. It features a "chronic dry eye self exam," an explanation of the causes behind the malady and a list of suggested questions for patients to ask their doctors, as well as links to further resources.

DRUG MARKETING
PhRMA Approves Guidelines

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced "Guiding Principles" for its members in the area of marketing drugs. PhRMA recommends companies submit new television advertisements to the FDA before releasing them for broadcast. The principles also call for a balanced presentation of benefits and risks. They call for "an appropriate amount of time" to educate health professionals about new medicines or therapeutic indications before starting consumer ad campaigns.

The principles are scheduled to go into effect in January 2006.

UPDATES FROM CIBA, VISTAKON
Contact Lenses in the News

According to Health Products Research, silicone hydrogel contact lenses accounted for 29% of new fits of soft lenses in the United States during the first quarter of 2005. The year-ago figure was 17%. The firm, which audits eyecare practitioner dispensing of contact lenses, also reported that CIBA Vision's O2Optix brand was a major contributor to silicone hydrogel growth, representing 8.5% of all new soft lens fits during the quarter.

In other news, Vistakon says that two company surveys show more than three quarters of respondents report being "extremely/very satisfied" with its Acuvue Advance Brand Contact Lenses for Astigmatism. The same number of respondents also rated the lens's overall vision and comfort as "excellent/ very good."

Publicity for PureVision

Bausch & Lomb began a multi-media consumer ad campaign in August to promote its PureVision soft contact lenses. A 30-second ad designed to raise consumer awareness about PureVision will run on network and cable TV stations across the United States. It can also be viewed on the company's Web site at www.bausch.com.

NEW CENTER IS DEDICATED TO INDEPENDENT OPTOMETRISTS
SCO Established the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence

The Southern College of Optometry (SCO) announced that Dr. Jerry Hayes and his wife, Cris, donated $500,000 for the establish- ment of the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at SCO, the first educational center at an optometric college specifically dedicated to teaching independent optometrists how to manage the business side of a practice. SCO's board of trustees matched the endowment, bringing the total to $1 million.

"Optometric education gets criticized for its perceived lack of education in this area," said SCO president William E. Cochran, O.D. "I think The Hayes Center for Practice Excellence will go a long way in establishing that the business of optometry is just as important to the health of the profession as the art and science of optometry."

Dr. Hayes is founder of Hayes Consulting and KnowYourStaff.com. He is a regular contributor to Optometric Management.

O.D. NOTEBOOK

PEOPLE & PROMOTIONS

Industry veteran Jay Little dies. Jay Little, Briot-Weco's National Lab Sales Manager for the United States and Canada, died last month after a sudden illness. Little spent 40 years in optical equipment sales, starting with Coburn Optical Industries and later working with DAC Vision and Optical Dynamics Corp. "Jay's strong passion for putting his customers first was widely recognized," said Bret Davis, president of Briot-Weco USA.

COMPANY NEWS

AcuVue Oasys to roll out on schedule. A Florida court last month denied CIBA Vision's motion for a temporary restraining order to halt the launch of AcuVue Oasys Brand Contact Lenses, by Vistakon.

AMD treatment wins award. Eyetech Pharmaceuticals' Macugen (pegaptanib sodium injection) was named Innovative Pharmaceutical Product of the Year at the 2005 Pharmaceutical Achievement Awards. Macugen is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for all types of neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

Partnering on patient education. Eyemaginations and M&S Technologies announced an exclusive partnership to make Eyemaginations' patient education and instructional software available for use on M&S's Smart System 2020 Visual Acuity System. The integration of software systems will allow users to fully control, select and display the patient education software in the exam room by using M&S's remote control.

Web site gets renovation. Eyedesign.com's updated Web site features a photo gallery of office interiors, optical furniture collections, planning and interior design information and brochures request.

FOUNDATION NEWS

Addressing keratoconus needs. Addition Technology announced the formation of The Foundation for Keratoconus Care, a non-profit foundation to help keratoconus sufferers. Addition is the maker of Intacs prescription inserts for the treatment of myopia and keratoconus. The foundation will provide financial support to patients who do not have the means to undergo an Intacs procedure to treat the disease.

Network with OWA. The Optical Women's Association (OWA) will host a networking social on Friday, Sept. 16 during the International Vision Expo in Las Vegas. The event will be held in The Venetian Hotel's Bellini Ballroom from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

 



Optometric Management, Issue: September 2005