News

O.D. Notebook: Optometrist Creating Masks For Health Care Workers

Dr. Chandler (above) began sewing masks in response to the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers.

By Jennifer Kirby, senior editor
 
            On the weekend of March 21, Moriah Chandler, O.D., clinical assistant professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry, came across a slew of articles on the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Next, she read a related article about a woman who started sewing masks for some of her local health care workers, and Dr. Chandler decided she wanted to sew masks too.
            “I’ve been sewing pretty consistently now, including quilting, for roughly 15 years,” she explains. “Additionally, I knew I had lots of fabric, and I enjoy helping others, so I did some research online, talked to a friend who taught me how to quilt, and I decided I would combine two different patterns and donate the masks.”
            Using her Bernina B380, Dr. Chandler began sewing the masks March 23, in between teleworking at the university and caring for her kindergartner and 4thgrader, who have been participating in virtual learning through their school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
            The masks are pleated and can either fit over the N95 Respirator masks (the recommended masks to protect from COVID-19) to prolong their use or be used with coffee filters, as the mask contains an opening to fit such filters, should N95 masks be unavailable. Additional features include a wired top the wearer can bend over his nose bridge for a close fit, and fabric ties vs. elastic ones. These make the masks adjustable and less irritating to the head, she says. Of note: Because the N95 Respirator masks are in short supply, the CDC states that health care providers could use homemade masks as a last resort, noting “homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”
            As of April 1, Dr. Chandler has created 65 masks, donating them to a team of Texas paramedics and a pediatric clinic in New York City, among other health care workers in need. She says she incurs the cost of shipping and was able to find those in need of masks through a Facebook group called “Sewing to Save Lives.” The group’s page includes a state-by-state list of mask requests, so seamstresses and tailors alike can let people know when masks are available. (See [https://www.facebook.com/groups/261625474848451/]
            “. . . This is my way of helping since I’m not actively seeing patients currently,” she says. “If people want to help, I’d love donations to help with shipping and the additional purchase of fabric at some point, but they can pay it forward to someone that may need more help than me. Does that make sense, or is the social distance getting to me?”

For the latest on COVID-19 news and resources, including prevention and practice tips, visit https://www.optometricmanagement.com/issues/2020/march-2020/leading-off-coronavirus-prevention-tips-for-optome.
 
Associations
  • The AOA’s board announced they met via video conference and unanimously agreed on a comprehensive, $5.5 million plan to fully assemble the organization to face the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, this plan is comprised of waiving all dues for two months for all members; keeping dues at current levels at least through 2021; extending federal/state/payer/media advocacy and more; establishing a $500,000 fund to assist distressed affiliates; and establishing an AOA Foundation Optometry Recovery Fund in partnership with industry friends
  •  The Vision Council has announced the departure of Greg Chavez, executive vice president of operations and membership, who has accepted the position of CEO for the Dental Trade Alliance. Ashley A. Mills, The Vision Council’s CEO, will oversee the organization’s Government & Regulatory Affairs Program in the interim.
  • Vision Expo has launched Virtual Connections, a new program designed to facilitate conversations and virtual meetings for Vision Expo East 2020 exhibitors and registered attendees for the postponed event, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Launching in mid-April, Virtual Connections will offer various options for connecting, including a digital concierge service that offers one-to-one matchmaking services. Through this service, a personal concierge from Reed Exhibitions, co-owner of Vision Expo, will coordinate virtual Zoom meetings among attendees and exhibitors, organizing every stage of the meeting, from initial scheduling to facilitating introductions during the meeting and distributing post-conversation follow-up surveys. Additionally, all who registered for Vision Expo East 2020 will receive personalized exhibitor recommendations, including exhibitor contact information. For more information, please contact Mitch Barkley at mbarkley@thevisioncouncil.org.
Company News
  •  Allergan has made program enhancements to assist ECPs and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are: lowering copay savings card offerings for Restasis, Restasis Multidose, Lumigan, Combigan and Alphagan P; enabling eligible commercially insured patients to pay as little as $0, using the My Tears, My Rewards, or At Your Service programs, which can be accessed via  restasis.com or savewithays.com, as of April 1; increasing the coupon value on all REFRESH products from $4 to $10 (see RefreshRewards.com); and extending additional payment terms for product purchased directly from Allergan, specifically Ozurdex and Xen, on or before March 23. Additionally, the Refresh brand has donated $250,000 to DirectRelief to support its ongoing COVID-19 emergency relief efforts, as part of the Refresh America program. In other news, Allergan has announced the FDA approval of the company’s New Drug Application for DURYSTA (bimatoprost implant) 10 mcg, an intracameral, biodegradable sustained-release implant indicated to decrease IOP in open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension patients. The approval was based on Phase 3 ARTEMIS studies, which show DURYSTA reduced IOP by approximately 30% from baseline over the 12-week primary efficacy period.
  • Bausch Health Companies Inc. has announced several initiatives to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In regard to eye care, Bausch + Lomb has donated its Biotrue ONEday daily disposable contact lenses to health care providers in Wuhan, China who have reported being hindered by fogging eyeglasses while wearing protective gear, such as goggles, face masks and containment suits. Additionally, at the company’s Jinan, China production facility, Bausch + Lomb is converting an available production line to produce hand sanitizer that will be donated for health care providers, first responders and volunteers. 
  • EschenbachOptik of America Inc. has signed a partnership with The CNIB Foundation, a Canadian non-profit that serves people who have sight loss. Through this partnership, people with sight loss in Canada will have increased access to Eschenbach’s video magnification solutions via all of the CNIB Foundation’s enterprises, including Shop CNIB, Frontier Accessibility and its affiliate organization, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada.
  • Essilor has reorganized itself to fast-track its integration with Luxottica. Specifically, it has appointedPaul du Saillant CEO of Essilor, who has named a single combined management committee to optimize the integration process. Additionally, the Board of Directors of Essilor SAS is being streamlined to five members from the previous 15, with a view to simplify decision processes and reduce the overlap with the EssilorLuxottica Board of directors. 
  • EyeCarePro has released GetSetCare — a FREE (during the COVID-19 pandemic) and fully HIPAA-compliant TeleHealth platform. It is iOS, Android and desktop compatible. Visit https://bit.ly/2UQYi6w for additional information.
  • So what are you waiting for? Get going with those emergency consults, dry eye check-ins, vision therapy sessions, or ongoing appointments for patients with chronic ocular diseases or conditions.
  • Eyevance Pharmaceuticals has launched Zerviate (cetirizine ophthalmic solution) 0.24% for the treatment of ocular itching associated with allergic conjunctivitis and Tobradex ST (tobramycin/dexamethasone ophthalmic suspension) 0.3%/0.05%, following the company’s acquisition of the product in late 2019. Zerviate received FDA new drug approval on May 30, 2017. Two Phase 3 studies show statistically significant and clinically relevant results in the decrease of ocular itch in moderate and severe allergic conjunctivitis subjects. The company will launch Zerviate through its recently deployed remote virtual selling platform, enabling the team to connect live nationwide with ophthalmologists, optometrists, allergists and their respective office staff team members. The sales force will introduce, educate and supply doctors with product information, with an opportunity to order patient samples and provide details on its patient co-pay savings program, which will allow instant, remote access to Zerviate co-pay savings at www.myeyesavings.com. Tobradex STis an FDA-approved, fixed-dose topical antibiotic and corticosteroid combination indicated forsteroid-responsive inflammatory ocular conditions for which a corticosteroidis indicated and where superficial bacterial ocular infection or a risk ofbacterial ocular infection exists: acute blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction.
  •  Neurolens has announced the following actions during the COVID-19 pandemic to demonstrate its commitment to its customers: no payment on current and future Neurolens lab bills until July 1, 2020 (90-day deferred payment) and the waiving of all drop ship fees until July 1, 2020 to ensure that lenses can be sent to customers or patient homes as needed. For additional information, O.D.s should reach out to their account manager/territory manager.
  • Ocutrx Vision Technologies, LLC, a technology company developing augmented reality (AR) headsets, has announced the appointment of Dr. Daniel Ting, M.D., Ph.D., a leader in AR for retinal disease, to the company’s International Medical Advisory Board as well as the organization’s newly formed International Scientific Advisory Board. The company manufactures both the Oculenz AR headset for low-vision patients and the AR ORLenz for surgeons, assistants and interventional radiologists and medical telemedicine. 
  • SynergEyes, Inc., has announced it has implemented extended warranties and reduced shipping rates to support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders may be placed via phone or email or through the online RxConnect ordering system. If practitioners would like training on RxConnect, they can reach out to their SynergEyes sales representative for more information. For additional details on how the company is supporting practitioners during this time, visit https://bit.ly/39s5QC0. In other news, SynergEyes is hosting a spring webinar series. Practitioners can register for the webinars at https://bit.ly/3bIZ1NQ. 
  • Topcon Healthcarehas announced it is offering free breath shields that fit on to Topcon slit lamps to reduce exposure to airborne contaminants (registration at http://bit.ly/2x8aVlk).
  • Walman Optical, and its family of optical companies, launched ASK WALMAN, an information and resource HelpLine created to help independent eye care practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASK WALMAN is comprised of experts ready to answer questions regarding payroll, patient care and extended payment terms and programs with the company, among other relevant topics. The HelpLine is available as a complimentary and confidential service Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm CST at (855) 868- 1076. For more details, visit www.walman.com/AskWalman.
  • ZEISS is offering free slit lamp breath shields for your practice. The company says the breath shields fit a variety of slit lamp makes and models, are easy to install and provide easy access to device controls and the patient. To find out how to get the free slit lamp breath shield, visit https://bit.ly/2wQBprW
Products
  •  Heidelberg Engineering has announced the reintroduction of its HRT3 Rostock Cornea Module (RCM) globally. HRT3 RCM is a compact ophthalmic device that uses confocal scanning laser microscopy to provide high-resolution images of the cornea, the conjunctiva or the limbus at the cellular level. Specifically, it provides en face images of corneal cells and structures, and it scans the cornea with a field of view of up to 400 x 400 μm, resulting in high-resolution images that allow the user to navigate through all corneal layers — including the subdifferentiation of various epithelial cell layers —, identify keratocytes subpopulations and visualize the corneal subbasal nerve plexus, the company says. The relaunch includes a new headrest and integration into Heidelberg’s HEYEX 2 image management software environment, which enables new functionalities for streamlined workflows, such as automated report generation and archiving, or drag-and-drop exports for paperless data sharing, the company says.
O.D. Notebook is published weekly on Wednesdays. Unless otherwise noted, the information presented is based on press releases. Find earlier editions here. To submit a press release to be considered for publication, click here.   Additionally, find frequently updated COVID-19 coverage here