Article Date: 10/1/2005

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Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

GRANTS, LOANS AND JOB PLACEMENT FOR OPTOMETRISTS AFFECTED BY HURRICANES
Optometry Rallies for Hurricane Relief

For more information or to make a
donation, visit the following Web sites:

In the wake of devastating Hurricane Katrina, major optometric organizations swung into action to provide relief to those affected in the Gulf states. The American Optometric Association (AOA) estimates that more than 400 optometrists are in need of immediate financial assistance, having lost practices and thus the means of generating income. To help them as quickly as possible, the AOA's American Optometric Institute (AOI), a non-profit corporation, has created an Optometric Disaster Relief Fund. It offers immediate financial assistance for all optometrists who have suffered the loss of, or severe damage to, their practice and/or home. Upon completion of a brief grant application, the AOI will provide each O.D. with a $2,000 grant for urgent needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Additionally, the AOA's Optometry's Career Center (OCC) has launched an effort to help displaced optometrists find practice opportunities. It will waive all non-member usage fees through Dec. 9 and staff will work one-on-one with displaced O.D.s to assess individual placement needs. Displaced eyecare professionals should register online and contact OCC staff at (800) 365-2291 x107 or e-mail OCC@aoa.org

Eyecare benefit provider Vision Service Plan (VSP) pledged $15 million in monetary support and sight-related services for hurricane victims. Its donations will help both optometrists and the sight-impaired, VSP says. Assistance includes eyecare vouchers VSP is distributing with the Red Cross that entitle recipients to a free eye exam and glasses and financial assistance to VSP-affiliated doctors in those areas for a damaged or closed practice. There's also a mobile services program to meet the needs of individuals unable to travel in the affected areas.

The Vision Council of American (VCA) established the Vision Alliance and Relief Fund, which will collect funds through the vision community and match donations up to $150,000. VCA also plans to serve as a clearing house for those who wish to donate optical products or services once the rebuilding process begins.

Other optical companies, such as ABB Optical, are also helping. ABB announced that it is sponsoring an employee drive to collect cash and dry goods for victims of the hurricanes, and will contribute $5 for every $1 donated by its employees to the relief effort.

VISION CARE INSTITUTE EXPANDS IN FLORIDA AND OPENS DOORS IN ASIA
Vistakon Institutes Go Global

Vistakon unveiled its expanded The Vision Care Institute (TVCI) in Jacksonville, Fla. in August. The centerpiece of the expansion is the Sullins Training Theatre, a 105-seat facility that features a 7'-by-12' projection screen that's linked to six examination rooms. The theater enables more than 100 students to observe TVCI faculty guiding them through real-life scenarios, instead of just two or three students in the exam rooms. The theatre also allows for long-distance learning by satellite transmission. It was named in honor of the late Navy Rear Admiral W. David Sullins, Jr., O.D.

The expansion created four new conference rooms as well, each named for a pioneer in optometry. These include Dr. Mollie Wright Armstrong, one of the first female O.D.s in the United States, Dr. George Mertz, a 2003 inductee in the Optometry Hall of Fame, and Dr. Terrance Ingraham, the first African-American to graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Optometry.

This unveiling was followed by the launch of the first Vision Care Institutes in Asia a few weeks later. Vistakon says that the new facilities in Seoul, Korea and Taipei, Taiwan will focus on upgrading the skills of eyecare professionals with innovative education techniques. In Taiwan, currently only about 40% of opticians receive formal professional contact lens education.

POP OFFERS GUIDANCE
Supporting the Independent O.D.

 Proactive Optometric Physicians (POP) is a new group that supports the interests of indepen-dent, private practitioners with consulting services and expert advice. The group's focus is on helping O.D.s build their practices and provide quality care in a private practice setting. Members gain access to nationally-recognized industry experts for advice on clinical, practice management, legal and financial issues. Consultants include Charles Brownlow, O.D., John Classe, O.D., J.D., Richard Hom, O.D., Ian Lane, O.D., Tom Miller, O.D., Stuart Richer, M.S., O.D., Ph.D., Mitchell Scheiman, O.D., Floyd Woods, O.D., Gil Weber, M.B.A. and Kenneth Rudzinksi, C.F.P.

In addition, POP's partners offer members discounts on a wide range of products and services. Three levels of membership are open to optometrists and students. Visit www.proactod.org.

FDA APPROVALS
SynergEyes Hybrid Contact Lens Comes to U.S.

SynergEyes Inc. received FDA clearance for its hybrid contact lens, the SynergEyes A. It corrects hyperopic, myopic and astigmatic refractive errors, including presbyopia, and features a high Dk rigid GP center with a hydrophilic, non-ionic soft skirt. The company says the Synerg-Eyes A will also correct ametropia from -20.00D to +20.00D with up to 6.00D astigmatism.

Measure Before You Manage
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

How do you determine if a newly-hired team member is right for the job for which you hired him or her — and equally important, right for your practice? Many practice owners use a probationary period (typically 30-90 days) during which a newly-hired employee's job performance is evaluated.

The following are among the parameters typically used for such an evaluation:

Goal completion: It helps to have mutually agreed-upon goals for measuring an employee's success on the job during the first 30 to 90 days. These can involve quantity, quality or a combination of the two. The clearer these are, the less chance there is for disagreement.

Motivation: Does the person come to work on time and appear motivated and energetic? Is he or she eager to learn? Take on more responsibility?

Problem-solving skills: Almost every job requires some ability to analyze and solve problems. If the employee continually asks basic questions, he or she may lack required problem-solving skills.

Compatibility with co-workers: Getting along with other team members, pitching in when needed and meshing with the culture of the practice is critical to morale and efficiency. A person may have the right skills and experience but if there's not a good fit with the team, major problems can ensue.

Patient compatibility: In a service-oriented practice, complaints from patients about new employees are very significant. Don't be the last to know if a newly-hired team member is undermining your practice.

Admittedly, such evaluations tend to be subjective. Consider asking other team members to rate the newly-hired person. It will eliminate the bias that you alone might have while giving your staff an important role in a decision that affects their work.

Reality check: No matter how adept you are at interviewing job applicants, there will always be a few who just don't make the grade. And the longer you delay confronting the issue, the more impact it will have on your practice.    

VSP Ranks Highest in Member Satisfaction

J.D. Power and Associates has ranked Vision Service Plan (VSP) highest in overall member satisfaction among national vision plans. This is the second year the marketing firm has awarded a distinction to the eye care benefits industry and the second year VSP has been recognized. J.D. Power measured member satisfaction in the areas of overall satisfaction, coverage and benefits, customer service, doctor network and clinical service, cost and eyewear purchase experience. VSP currently covers more than 14 million members across the country, or one of every eight people.


Results from OM Quick Poll:
OM recently asked our Web site visitors what was their greatest challenge in staffing. Here's how they answered
(Results as of September 30, 2005)

O.D. NOTEBOOK
COMPANY NEWS

Sport-tinted contact lens is here. Bausch & Lomb's Nike MAXSIGHT (polymacon) Sport-Tinted contact lens is now commercially available in the United States and Europe. The contact lens comes in two activity-dependent tints and are indicated for daily wear for the correction of myopia and hyperopia; they're also available in plano prescriptions.

Walman Optical, Eyefinity make a deal. The two companies announced an agreement to develop a new interface to expedite the processing of prescription lab orders placed on Eyefinity. Eyefinity will also provide marketing services for Walman's network of optical laboratories.

Correction:

Two Visual Pathways Inc. instruments were missing from the Retinal Cameras section of the Diagnostic Instrument Buying Guide, which was distributed with the July issue of Ophthalmology Management/Optometric Management. Here are the listings as they should have appeared.

Manufacturer: Visual Pathways Inc.
334 White Spar Road
Prescott, AZ 86330-4238
(928) 778-5002
(928) 778-5004 (fax)
sales@vispath.com
www.visualpathways.com

Model: Aris 70
Price: $38,350
Warranty: 2 years
Type: Digital; high-res; nonmyd (4mm); constant base stereo
Field of View: 30�; up to 11 targets covering > 70� on retina
Angiography: no
Number/Type of Ports: 4 USB; ethernet; RS232: DIN; analog video out; digital video out; sound; telemedicine ready
Flash stimulus: n/a
Video Capacity: no
Additional Features: Little operator training required; automation of virtually all steps in imaging process including pupil alignment, tracking, fundus alignment, focus, exposure, illumination; auto-wavelength selection for IR, red1, red2, red-free; ConstantBaseStereo; Biochromatic Image Navigation; color adjustments; image comparisons; internal computer; automatic paralleled image file backup system.

Model: Aris 110
Price: $45,350
Warranty: 2 years
Type: Same as Aris 70
Field of view: 30�; up to 26 targets covering >110� on retina
Angiography: no
Number/Type of Ports:
same as Aris 70
Flash Stimulus: n/a
Video Capacity: no
Additional Features: Same as Aris 70.

IZON LENS RECEIVES POSITIVE MARKS
Wavefront Lens Rolls out in Southern Cal.

The iZon wavefront-guided spectacle lens was successfully launched in southern California, reports Ophthonix, the developer of the lens. Nearly 1,000 patients are wearing the lens, which was introduced in the second quarter of 2005, according to Ophthonix President and Chief Executive Officer Andreas Dreher, Ph.D., in mid-September.

In correcting higher-order aberrations, the lens demonstrated an improvement in visual acuity, low contrast visual acuity and mid-frequency contrast sensitivity, according to clinical testing that included both myopic and emmetropic patients. Research indicates that 70% of emmetropes and 90% of myopes have higher-order aberrations, which may affect clarity of vision, said Dr. Dreher.

The company will continue its regional roll out of the lens and plans to launch it across the country in 2006. Ophthonix will introduce a progressive version of the lens later that year. The wavefront-guided lens is produced with a wavefront prescription provided by the Z-View aberrometer and the company's iZonik lens material (a 1.6 high-index super hydrophobic material with anti-reflective coating). For more information, go to www.ophthonix.com



Optometric Management, Issue: October 2005