Article Date: 2/1/2006

practice pulse

Does Eyecare Survey Miss the Mark?

According to a recent survey by the National Consumers League (NCL), most Americans — including those who wear glasses or contact lenses — aren't sure what all those letters after an eyecare provider's name mean. In the Web survey of 600 adults over the age of 25, 30% of respondents believe that optometrists have medical degrees, and 50% thought an O.D. could be board-certified. Marc Bloomenstein, O.D., F.A.A.O., of Phoenix, says the survey, funded by an unrestricted grant from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, misses "the question as to whether patients were happy with their care."

Most respondents to the survey said that they would prefer their eye care provider have a medical degree for treatment such as surgeries (including laser), prescribing medications, administering injections and emergency care. However, Dr. Bloomenstein notes that 30% of those surveyed do not see a difference in the care they receive from an O.D. or and M.D.

Additionally, some O.D.s question the accuracy of eyecare-related educational materials that the NCL offers at its Web site, Says James K. Kirchner, O.D., F.A.A.O., of Lincoln, Neb., "Their consumer information is biased and does not accurately reflect the professional skills and services we provide. A modern understanding of optometry ... would be of much greater benefit to their readers."

Dr. Kirchner further says, "This [survey] seems to touch on an issue that the American Optometric Association works diligently on, that of public awareness of the complete scope of modern optometric practice." Adds Dr. Bloomenstein, "We as optometrists need to educate our patients and the public at large as to the amount of training that the O.D. [degree] necessitates."

"Seniordoc" Changes its Name

Optometric community Web site has changed its name to "" to better reflect its membership, most of whom graduated optometry school after 1985. The site, which currently has more than 3,500 members, also features upgrades including a real-time chat area, a photo archive and the ability to post original articles either for member's only or for public view, in which case search engines will also pick up the article.

Adult Eye Exams on the Rise

More than 90.8 million U.S. adults received eye examinations between Oct. 2004 and Sept. 2005, breaking down to almost 250,000 per day. The data comes from the Vision Council of America's (VCA's) VisionWatch, an initiative that continuously measures consumer sentiment for the eyewear and eyecare industries. It also examined patients' reasons for scheduling an eye exam and found that more than 33% of a 2,000-person sample cited receiving an appointment reminder card as the catalyst for their visits, while 25% said they did so because they were experiencing vision problems. VCA says their data indicates that the number of eye exams performed should continue to rise in 2006.

Academy Presents Research and New Products

The press conference of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), held during the Academy's annual meeting in San Diego, offered presentations that ranged from scientific papers to new FDA-approved LASIK treatments. Last month, Optometric Management presented conference highlights in the area of contact lenses. The meeting also offered announcements in the area of dry eye management, which include:

David Meadows, Ph.D., of Alcon, introduced Systane Free lubricant eye drops, which offer the comfort and protection of a gel with less blur. The drops are preservative-free in the eye and as they cause less blurring, they can be used during the day as well as at night.

Research demonstrated that carboxymethylcellulose, the primary mechanism of action in the Refresh brand line of artificial tears (Allergan), binds to human corneal epithelial cells and promotes recovery and protection of the ocular surface, says Allergan's Joseph Vehige, O.D.

Oasis Medical introduced a long-term intracanalicular punctum plug made of a hydrogel material that can expand to 20 times its volume for punctual occlusion. The material can fill the canalicular cavity within 10 minutes.

Other presentations included:

In the area of LASIK, Heather Ready, of Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) presented new information on AMO CustomVue, the first wavefront-guided procedure approved by the FDA for up to –11.00D of myopia with astigmatism up to 3.00D.

Michael Pier, O.D., director of professional development for Bausch & Lomb, explained the effectiveness of Zylet, a combination of tobramycin and loteprednol, in cases where inflammation and the risk of infection are present.

The AIT WAM-5500 binocular accommodation auto refractor and keratometer also measures refraction and the pupil diameter simultaneously, said AIT's Mark Dehn.

OM will feature additional information from the AAO presentations in future issues.

AOA Launches Child Education Campaign

The American Optometric Association's (AOA) new "Be Wise About Your Eyes," campaign uses animated characters and a coloring book to educate children in kindergarten through third grade about eye care. The video teaches children how the visual system works, the importance of regular eye exams and how to protect the eyes. The 16-page coloring and activity book reinforce the concepts presented in the video.

The AOA encourages eye care practitioners to use the materials during visits to local elementary schools and other community outreach programs. To purchase the materials, call the AOA Order Department at (800) 262-2210 x2422. The video is available to members for $20; the activity books are available in quantities of 25 ($30), 50 ($40) and 75 ($48). For non-members, the DVD and VHS copies are $30, and the Activity/Coloring books are 25 ($45), 50 ($60), 72 ($75) and 100 ($82.50).

Gatifloxacin Effective for Keratitis

At the University of California, Irvine, a rabbit model of mycobacterium chelonae keratitis after lamellar keratectomy assessed the effectiveness of fluoroquinolone therapy. Of the anti-infectives studied, the fourth-generation gatifloxacin showed the best performance over ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin. They conclude that gatifloxacin could be effectively used for the treatment of mycobacterial keratitis. The study was reported in the July 2005 Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (Sarayba, et al).

Promising GP Material for Presbyopes

A study at the University of Melbourne in Australia found that Menicon's Menifocal Z (hyper Dk tisilfocon A) contact lens material for GP lenses provides successful vision correction of distance and near vision. Researchers evaluated Menifocal Z alternating vision, concentric and bifocal GP lenses in 35 existing GP lens wearers over six months. The high contrast distance visual acuity was 0.03 (20/20-); near visual acuity was 0.26 (20/25, N4). Adverse responses and lens binding were minimal.

VSP, Alcon make Fortune's grade

Eyecare companies Vision Service Plan (VSP) and Alcon Laboratories made Fortune maga- zine's 2006 list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For." VSP ranked seventh; it was also the seventh consecutive year on the prestigious list. For Alcon, ranked at 32, it was the eighth consecutive appearance. The complete list of companies and accompanying stories appears in Fortune's Jan. 23 issue.

Reichert Buys Tono-pen

Reichert Ophthalmic Instruments last month bought Medtronic's Tono-Pen line of applanation tonometers for $28 million. The purchase also included Medtronic's Ocu-Film tip covers and Model 30 Classic pneumatonometer. Combined, the products had accounted for more than $10 million of Medtronic's annual sales. According to Reichert, sales from its new products will start accruing as of Feb. 1.

As for Medtronic, the remainder of its ophthalmic product line is being incorporated into the company's ENT division.

Is There a Difference Between Lenses at Night?

According to a recent study, a wavefront-guided spectacle lens improves the reaction time of wearers during night driving when compared with conventional lenses.

In tests that simulated night driving, drivers identified pedestrians by an average of 330 milliseconds sooner when wearing iZon Wavefront-Guided spectacle lenses. In practical terms, that means that while driving at 55mph, a driver can see pedestrians or other objects or situations about 29 feet sooner, "which is comparable to three car lengths or the distance across a typical intersection," says Andreas Dreher, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Ophthonix, the manufacturer of the iZon lens. "That three-tenths of a second could be a lifesaver."

The iZon lenses are custom-made, based on results of examinations using the Z-View aberrometer, which measures both low- and high-order errors.

Dr. Dreher calls nighttime driving a "vision torture test" and says that with the iZon eyeglasses, drivers, "can overcome this challenge and receive unsurpassed clarity."

The study, announced that the American Academy of Optometry, was conducted with 29 subjects in a controlled, FDA-validated night driving simulator. The study simulated night driving conditions on a rural road at 55mph. Each subject used the simulator twice; once while wearing conventional lenses (which included correction for sphere, cylinder and axis) and once more while wearing the iZon lenses (which also incorporated corrections for third through sixth higher-order corrections). The lenses were randomized and not marked, so the subjects had no indication of which lenses they were wearing.

Ophthonix will expand the iZon lens introduction to all major markets in the United States during 2006.


Initiative pays off. The Vision Council of America announced that Eyecessorize, its fashion and lifestyle initiative to generate media coverage and promote eyewear as a "must-have" fashion accessory, reached 31 million consumers in 2005. Media coverage included print placements in such publications as Life and Style Weekly, the New York Post, Us Weekly and Chicago Tribune.

Essilor expands globally. Essilor of America, Essilor International's U.S. subsidiary, acquired two prescription laboratories late last year, ACO Lab Inc. (based in Commerce, Calif.) and Focus Optical Labs Inc. (Chicago). The laboratories have revenues of $3.8 million and $3.5 million, respectively.


Three join SCO's Board of Trustees. Attorney Jim Jalenak of Memphis, Dr. Christopher King of Eaglewood O.D., of Fla., and Dr. Robert Smalling O.D., of Warren, Ark., were elected to the Southern College of Optometry's Board of Trustees.

 ►New CEO/President At Visioneering. Visioneering Corp.'s board of directors named Joe DeLapp the company's new president and CEO. Mr. DeLapp previously served in those positions at Briot-WECO.

 ... And at Eyemaginations. The 3-D animation and multi-media marketing and education company appointed Jeffrey Peres its president and CEO. Mr. Peres has served as the company's chief operating officer since joining the company in 2005.

B&L VP honored. Steven D. Silverman, vice president of information technology for Global Operations and Engineering at Bausch & Lomb, was named one of the business world's Premier 100 IT Leaders by IDG's Computerworld. The award honors executives who show "exemplary technology leadership in resolving pressing business problems."

CooperVision Seeks to Make Life More Comfortable

CooperVision launched the Biomedics XC contact lens this month. The latest addition of the company's PC Hydrogel line, it's approved for daily-wear on a two-week replacement schedule. CooperVision says its patented PC Technology helps create a biocompatible lens material that attracts and retains moisture. The omafilcon A material features the FDA-cleared labeling indication, "may provide improved comfort for contact lens wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms related to dryness during wear."

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2006