TRENDS & NEWS YOU CAN USE
BOTH SIDES DEBATE CONTACT
Should Sell Contact Lenses? 2 Bills Give 2 Answers
Proposing a "proper balance of
consumer choice and the health and safety of the American public," U.S. Rep. Ed
Whitfield (R-Ken.) introduced the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (HR
6117) last month.
The proposed legislation would establish a "Patient Safety
Hotline" for eyecare professionals (ECPs) who have patient health concerns related
to a prescription verification requests. When the hotline receives a call, it would
suspend the respective transaction until the vendor addressed the specific health
The bill would also allow ECPs to specify how they would like
to receive prescription verification requests from third-party vendors (fax, email
or phone). Vendors would be required to try at least two of the three media. Failure
could result in fines of up to $100,000 per violation.
Mr. Whitfield's office noted that the prescription verification
requirements of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act "have been routinely
ignored or abused by some third-party vendors." The American Optometric Association
and the American Academy of Ophthalmology endorsed the legislation.
The introduction of HR 6117 follows Congressional hearings regarding
the FCLCA. During these, Jonathan Coon, CEO of 1-800 CONTACTS, gave his support
for HR 5762, a bill that would require contact lens manufacturers to make their
lenses available to alternative distribution channels, such as mail order companies,
Internet retailers, buying clubs and mass merchandise outlets. Mr. Coon said that
39 state attorneys general support HR 5762 "to ensure the consumer protection intended
by the FCLCA."
Fryling, chief operating officer of Cooper Vision, questioned the benefits of HR
5762 and stated: "It is essential that contact lens manufacturers, like manufacturers
in other industries, retain the ability to choose reputable distributors that have
ethical, efficient and safe business practices."
THE DEMOGRAPHICS TELL US
America's Vision of Eyecare is not 20/20
new survey of more than 3,700 adults shows that while 74% agree that eye care is
as important as other health issues, 25% say it has been more than two years since
their last eye exam, and 14% claim they do not have a regular eyecare professional
(ECP). In addition, 35% of parents say their children have never seen an ECP.
The study, "Americans' Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision
Care," which was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Vision Care Institute
of Johnson & Johnson, notes that these statistics vary among ethnic groups.
In this respect, the survey is "a cause for concern," says Derrick Artis, O.D.,
director, professional affairs, Vistakon, "because adults and children who are at
greater risk for certain eye conditions and diseases are not receiving proper diagnosis
For example, while 72% of African Americans strongly agreed that
maintaining proper vision is a priority and 50% strongly agreed that taking care
of eyes is as important as other health issues, only 21% report that they have a
regular ECP. Twenty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents strongly agreed that they
are concerned with their vision getting worse (compared to 15% of all respondents),
yet only 43% had seen an ECP in the last year.
The survey also reported the following information:
36% of Asian-Americans said they do not need an eye exam unless they are having
a vision problem, yet 94% agreed maintaining vision is an important priority.
Caucasians were more likely to understand common vision problems, such as myopia
or presbyopia, yet 25% had not seen an ECP in the past two years.
51% of women report being diagnosed and/or treated for nearsightedness, compared
to 42% of men.
Only 53% of those 40 and older know that they are treatments available for presbyopia.
78% of adults wear some kind of vision correction: 67% prescription glasses, 16%
contact lenses and 10% non-prescription glasses.
11% wear both prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses.
practice tip of the month
The Sign of the Times
By Neil B. Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A.,
practices have had the same look for so long, they become invisible. That's why
the physical appearance of an eye care office is so important to any practice's
marketing plan. Maybe it's time to take an objective look at yours.
Times have changed in the health care professions.
For example, while still maintaining a professional look, it's perfectly acceptable
to have a large, self-illuminated sign. Provided it complies with local zoning codes
and state board of practice rules, a great sign can create an upscale, progressive
image. High-end signs are expensive, but they are actually very economical as a
form of advertising. Break out of the mold and get noticed.
Take an objective and creative look
at your office exterior and how a new sign could be installed. Get the opinions
of friends. Look at other practices and businesses in newly developed areas for
examples. Speak with your landlord if you rent and with city government officials
if you own.
Consider where you might place a sign
for best visibility. I personally like a free-standing, self-illuminated sign in
front of the building, or individual, self-illuminated letters and graphics mounted
to the wall of the building.
A common mistake on signs is having
too much text. Resist the urge to put all kinds of information. A first class sign
just says the name of the company.
This "Tip of the Month" is excerpted from
the article "Is it time for an image makeover?" which was originally published in
the Optometric Management Tip of the Week e-newsletter. Both a free subscription
to the newsletter and an unabridged version of this tip are available at www.optometric.com.
Santinelli and CIBA Join IDOC
IDOC, a practice development group,
has announced that Santinelli International and CIBA Vision have become preferred
vendor partners. Both companies will now provide exclusive benefits and services
to the 500 independent optometrist members of IDOC. IDOC now has over 40 vendor
partners. IDOC members receive a complete set of benefits that deliver savings and
information to facilitate both patient care and practice management. IDOC delivers
buyer services, continuing education activities, practice management guidance and
topical communications specifically geared toward the independent optometrist. In
addition, IDOC also conducts CE-accredited conferences that emphasize practice management.
For more information contact Brian Kleinberg, president, IDOC, at (973) 377-7400.
International has acquired Vision Star (lab management software), Prio (corrective
lenses to treat computer vision syndrome), Sunstar (prescription lens lab) and Tec
Optik, an Australian-based lab.
Vision Expo West, Younger Optics unveiled Drivewear polarized eyeglass lenses. These
photochromic lenses are the first that darken behind the windshield of a car.
at Vision Expo, Ophthonix, makers of iZon high resolution eyewear, announced it
has partnered with Le Mans racing series driver Liz Halliday.
Medical Systems acquired Anka Systems, a Web-based, software solutions company known
for EyeRoute, which integrates information from various ophthalmic instruments into
a single digital environment.
and the Vision Council of America joined with Scholastic Publishing to create "Our
Amazing Eyes," a teaching guide sent to 166,000 educators. The guide is available
in three versions grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-8.
Greene has become CEO of the Vision Council of America, replacing William C. Thomas.
Mr. Greene who retired as president and CEO of Carl Zeiss Optical in 2006.
Reaping the Benefits of a VT Specialty
By René Luthe, Senior Associate Editor
heresa J. Ruggiero, O.D., F.C.O.V.D.,
of Northampton, Mass., received international acclaim for her "miracle" patient,
Susan Barry, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience who achieved stereoscopy almost
50 years after surgery to correct crossed eyes. The case garnered attention because
it broke the rule that is, the belief that the human brain only has a brief
window of time, during infancy, to "rewire" and repair itself.
Dr. Ruggiero says that Dr. Barry's recovery is not so rare; the
brain's plasticity makes such recoveries possible at any age. She says optometrists
are particularly suited to recognize and treat binocular visual dysfunction. Further,
a practice can distinguish itself by incorporating vision therapy (VT).
Ruggiero says the biggest challenge in vision therapy is the diagnosis of binocular
Perhaps the biggest challenge in VT is diagnosing binocular visual
dysfunction. A patient, 58-year-old "Red" Greene, had an amblyopic right eye all
his life. When he suffered an ischemic event in his left eye, leaving him with 20/100
visual acuity, his amblyopic right eye improved to 20/20. This change caused a significant
Things presenting on his left side bothered Mr. Greene (he jumped
when people approached on his left). He constantly shut his left eye and resorted
to wearing a patch. It compromised all aspects of his life including his work and
personal relationships. Yet a number of doctors, including those at Massachusetts
Eye and Ear Infirmary, said, "Why are you complaining? You see clearly in your bad
problem is that many doctors look at vision as "an eyeball thing," rather than a
brain process. The brain's compensatory mechanisms may also mask a patient's dysfunction.
When patients reach their 40s, though, these mechanisms often break down. At this
point many present to their eye doctors.
Use your ears
"Optometrists can help by really listening to what patients tell
them about their symptoms and struggles even if they see 20/20," Dr. Ruggiero says.
Patience can be a virtue with VT. Compensating mechanisms are
more deeply embedded in older patients so successful outcomes may take longer, but
they will come. In the case of Mr. Greene, Dr. Ruggiero prescribed lenses that stabilized
his vision. He now functions with comfort and ease.
Vision therapy for adults typically
lasts from three to nine months depending on the condition. Total fees range from
a few hundred dollars to several thousand. The treatment is not usually covered
by insurance. The costs of adding VT to a practice are minimal and much of the test
administration and hands-on treatment can be delegated. The net income is usually
greater than 50%.
Dr. Ruggiero recommends O.D.s go online to the College of Optom-etrists
in Vision Development (www.covd.org) and the Optometric Extension Program (www.oep.org)
An O.D. with a general practice for 19 years, Dr. Ruggiero receives
approximately 200 referrals each year from a network of health and education professionals,
including occupational and physical therapists, neuropsychologists, teachers and
physicians. (She doesn't market her specialty directly to patients.)
"There's a tremendous number of people who need treatment for
binocular dysfunction," says Dr. Ruggiero. "The treatment isn't hard and the results
are so rewarding!"
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2006