Article Date: 8/1/2006

Practice pulse

Do You and Your Patients Speak the Same Language?
By Barbara Anan Kogan, O.D.

In most communities across America, patients are in need of vision care from a doctor who "speaks their language." This includes patients of Hispanic or Asian decent as well as the number of newly adopted children from such countries as Russia.

If you are not bilingual or multilingual, consider hiring a staffer who speaks the most common languages — other than English — in your community. Consider hiring optometrists from "the old country," on a part-time basis to fill this communication need.

Practices have found success in marketing their services to non-English patients through outreach to local religious institutions, schools (contact the principal and the nurse), restaurants and other businesses that cater to a diverse population.

Another language that is a practice builder is sign language for the hearing impaired. Sources for a staffer who can assist in sign language include the local otolaryngology society or school for the deaf.

The Value of Contact Lens Patients

We recently reported the results of a London Business School survey of Europe, which concluded that over their lifetimes, a typical contact lens patient is more profitable than the patient who wears spectacles only (OM April, "Which is More Profitable?" page 65). New research from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania corroborates this conclusion with U.S. patients.

In a Vistakon-sponsored presentation held during the annual AOA Congress, Kelly Kerksick, O.D., explained the findings of the Wharton study. She said the data suggest that "the additional purchasing activities of contact lens patients" boost a practice's revenues. These purchases include spectacles: 47% of the patients in the survey wear contact lenses and spectacles, 45.8% wear spectacles only and 7% wear contacts only.

Over a five-year period, the contact/spectacle patients generated $757, vs. $591 for spectacle only patients and $572 for contact lens-only patients.

Additionally, the contact/spectacle patients visited their doctors an average of 1.54 times per year, while the contact lens-only group visited 1.39 times and the spectacle-only group visited 1.00 times. "The more often you see patients, the more inclined they are to spend money on items such as sunglasses," says Dr. Kerksick. (Dr. Kerksick's strategies for capturing the needs of patients are presented on page 58.)

The survey results were based on the responses of 78 private practice optometrists and 36 O.D.s who operated in retail settings. Each doctor selected 20 patients who had visited the practice recently and had a history with the practice. The patients were required to have some type of vision correction and were not recent surgical patients.

How Many Meetings Does it Take?

In a recent survey of optometric practices, nearly half (48.3%) hold meetings once a month or less. The numbers for the survey are based on responses from 174 readers who replied to a recent OM "Quick Poll" on this site.

Practices hold staff meetings:

Once a month or less 48.3%
1-3 times a month 13.2%
Weekly 32.8%
2-4 times a week 4%
Daily 1.7%


Vistakon's "Moist" Daily

Vistakon recently introduced "1�Day Acuvue Moist" daily disposable contact lenses in the United States. Made of etafilcon A, the lenses employ Lacreon technology, a process that permanently embeds a water holding ingredient, similar to that found in natural tears, into the lens. According to Vistakon, this technology locks in moisture allowing eyes to feel fresh and comfortable all day long.

Vistakon has begun introducing the lens at some eyecare practices in the United States. The company expects to expand distribution in the coming months.

The 1�Day Acuvue Moist and 1�Day Acuvue are the only daily disposables with UV blocking. In addition, the FDA cleared both lenses for patients who suffer symptoms associated with ocular allergies during contact lens wear. A new Vistakon-sponsored survey reports 73% of contact lens wearers suffer from eye allergy symptoms and of those, 54% find it very uncomfortable to wear their lenses while suffering from allergies.

While most respondents said they do not wear daily disposables, this modality may be the best alternative for allergy sufferers "because allergens may build up on the lenses over time" says Leonard Bielory, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Ophthalmology, Director, Division of Allergy/Immunology & Rheumatology, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.


Alimera Sciences sales representatives will begin detailing and sampling the CYNACON/OCuSOFT Lid Scrub family of eyelid cleansers to existing ophthalmic and optometric customers.

Eyemaginations appointed Dr. Joseph Boorady as COO. Previously, Dr. Boorady was VP and executive director of the University Optometric Center at the SUNY College of Optometry.


In the July continuing education article, the chart on p. 31, "Solution and Lens Combination Staining," lists ReNu MultiPlus incorrectly. The correct label is ReNu with MoistureLoc. The most up-to-date multipurpose solutions grid can be found at

In June, "Billing & Coding" on p. 72 lists 99285 as the code for anterior segment photography. The correct code is 92285.

National Children's Vision Health Plan Continues to Gain Momentum

By the end of June, The Children's Vision Improvement and Learning Readiness Act (H.R. 2238), neared the 220 cosponsor mark. If enacted, the bill would establish a grant program for states to provide vision assessment and follow-up care for children. It encourages states to educate parents about the importance of vision health.

Three hundred organizations have endorsed the bill, including the American Optometric Association, Vision Service Plan, Optical Women's Association, Prevent Blindness America, Lighthouse International, National Association of Vision Care Plans and the National Head Start Association.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), It was referred to the House Subcommittee on Health in late May.

The VCA advocacy website,, provides more information, as well as sample letters to send to House members.

MBA Site

The Management & Business Academy (MBA) has launched the site, which features practice management materials and practice advice.

Sponsored by CIBA Vision and Essilor of America, the MBA site includes information and guidelines on a host of practice business issues, including staff salaries and job descriptions, patient loyalty, professionalism and productivity.

Optometry Hall of Fame Announces Inductees for 2006

John Costabile, O.D.

This year, the National Optometry Hall of Fame ( will induct educators, researchers, political activists and a humorist. At an induction ceremony in October during the Eastwest Eye Conference in Cleveland, the Hall of Fame will recognize John Costabile, O.D.; Anthony Cullen, MSc, O.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.; Merton Flom, O.D., Ph.D.; Gideon Lang, O.D.; John D. Robinson, O.D.; LL.D.; Jack Runninger, O.D.; and Damien Smith, O.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Costabile worked to expand optometry's scope of practice. As the secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State Optometric Society for over 30 years, he advocated that society members become active participants in the political process. He educated colleagues in the use of diagnostic and therapeutic agents and is credited with building a grassroots political network, "which became the envy of all optometry," according to the Hall of Fame.

Anthony Cullen, MSc, O.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.

As a clinician, educator, researcher, administrator and volunteer, Dr. Cullen serves as an advisor to the United Nations and the World Health Organization. He is an authority on ocular environmental toxicology specializing in the effects of ultraviolet radiation on the eye and environmental safety issues. Dr. Cullen is a past president of the American Academy of Optometry. He has served on the AOA Council on Clinical Optometric Care, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and the Council of the College of Optometrists in Ontario.

Dr. Flom is noted as a leader in teaching, research and professional service in the schools of optometry at the University of California Berkeley and at the University of Houston. Noted for his work in binocular vision, Dr. Flom is a past president of the American Academy of Optometry. He received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York.

Merton Flom, O.D., Ph.D.

When he returned from service in World War II, Dr. Lang was appalled to learn that as an optometrist, he could not legally certify blindness. He quickly became involved in politics at the local, state and national levels. A pioneer in political activism in optometry, Dr. Lang pursued changes to the Social Security Act that would allow patients the right to choose a physician skilled in diseases of the eye or an optometrist.

As the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Optometry, Dr. Robinson has advocated that optometrists be permitted to render the broadest range of care within the laws of North Carolina. The state enacted its therapeutic drug law when Dr. Robinson was president of the North Carolina Optometric Society.

John D. Robinson, O.D.; LL.D.

Often compared to humorist Will Rogers, Dr. Runninger (a columnist and past editor of OM), has been active in state and national optometric organizations for over 50 years. Dr. Runninger, a 1947 graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, where he received an honorary degree of doctor of ocular science, has entertained and educated optometrists through his lectures, journal articles, books and of course, his columns in OM.

Dr. Smith has been a leader of international optometric interests for 30 years. During his term as president of the World Council of Optometry, the WCO began official relations with the World Health Organization, a relationship that placed optometry into the mainstream of international public health issues and the global fight to prevent blindness and visual impairment. He also served as the executive director of the Australian Optometric Association.

The National Optometry Hall of Fame recognizes persons whose lifetime achievements have advanced the profession of optometry.

Jack Runninger, O.D. Damien Smith, O.D., Ph.D



Optometric Management, Issue: August 2006