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Record Attendance for Academy of Optometry

The Academy of Optometry's annual meeting took place from Oct. 22-25, 2008 in Anaheim and had nearly 4,900 attendees, which made it the highest attended annual meeting in Academy history. Included were more than 400 international attendees representing 39 countries. With a theme of "Today's Research, Tomorrow's Practice," the conference offered nearly 300 hours of continuing education and featured about 190 exhibitors in the exhibit hall.

A new Academy logo was introduced in Anaheim in which the letters AAO were transformed into an eye shape with the name American Academy of Optometry aligned alongside. The organization felt that it needed a new logo to take it into a new era and states that the logo reflects the Academy's focus on the future.

Mark Eger, OD, FAAO, acceded to the position of president of the American Academy of Optometry. Dr. Eger is in private practice in Corapolis, PA and will serve as president for 2009 and 2010. He has served on the Academy's Board for 10 years.

The Academy inducted 150 new Fellows, and six individuals were awarded diplomate status by sections of the AAO. The next Academy meeting will take place from Nov. 11-14, 2009 in Orlando, FL.

For the Record
In the No-Fee CE article "Contact Lens Materials Update 2008" by Gregory J. Nixon, OD, FAAO, in the November issue, question 16 states, "Because the highest practical water content for any soft contact lens material is about 80 percent, maximum Dk is about:" It should have said "traditional hydrogel contact lens materials" rather than "any soft contact lens material."

Silicone Hydrogel Sales Pass HEMA Sales

During the third quarter of 2008, silicone hydrogel contact lenses accounted for 70.8 percent of spherical contact lens sales, 50.5 percent of toric contact lens sales and 22.8 percent of multifocal contact lens volume, the first time ever that silicone hydrogel lenses surpassed traditional HEMA-based contact lenses, according to contact lens distributor ABB Concise.

"With the continued introduction of new silicone hydrogel materials and designs, we anticipate the new category will totally dominate the market in the years ahead," said Angel Alvarez, ABB Concise's CEO.

"Upgrading patients to silicone hydrogels not only has important clinical benefits, but eyecare practitioners enjoy higher revenue and gross profit per box from dispensing them. Based on our ongoing monitoring of independent ECP retail pricing, we estimate that practices produce 18 percent higher revenue and 5 percent higher gross profit per box from silicone hydrogel lenses," Alvarez said.

ABB Concise serves more than 14,000 accounts nationwide. The company estimates that its market share among soft lens distributors is 45 percent, equivalent to 30 percent of all soft contact lenses purchased by independent ECPs.

ABO-NCLE Draws 600 Attendees

The first ABO-NCLE National Education Conference took place in Cincinnati, OH on Sept. 18-21, 2008 and drew 600 attendees from across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Hosted by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE), this four-day conference was designed to improve opticians' technical, professional, managerial and personal performance.

Accredited for ABO and NCLE continuing education, the meeting offered more than 150 hours of didactic and hands-on education. In addition, more than 55 meeting sponsors and exhibitors shared new insights and cutting edge products with attendees. The education program was developed with education partners National Academy of Opticianry, Opticians Association of America (OAA) and Contact Lens Society of America. The expert faculty included more than 40 guest speakers who provided education on spectacle and contact lens topics as well as practice management themes. The National Federation of Opticianry Schools served as an academic partner and provided instructors for the hands-on courses. Additionally, the organization held its semi-annual business meeting onsite during the conference.

This venue was also the location of the OAA National Opticians Convention. The second ABO-NCLE National Education Conference will take place in Cincinnati, OH on Sept. 10-13, 2009.

SynergEyes Launches Practitioner Education Program
SynergEyes, Inc., is launching a new program designed to help eyecare practitioners grow their specialty contact lens practices.
The SynergEyes Enrichment Program will include a series of live lectures, interactive Web trainings and peer-to-peer roundtable discussions covering practice management topics such as increasing contact lens profitability, differentiating with new technology and implementing effective patient marketing campaigns. The program will feature recognized practitioners and industry leaders who have successfully grown their practices and increased their profitability by integrating new technology into their specialty contact lens practices.
"The goal is to provide a one-of-a-kind education program that will help optometrists build a successful contact lens practice; increase patient loyalty and satisfaction; generate more referrals; and improve their bottom line," says Kellie Kaseburg, vice president of Global Marketing for SynergEyes.

Former CLS Editor Receives Award

The European Federation of the Contact Lens Industry (EFCLIN) presented its 2008 EFCLIN Award to a longtime contact lens educator and former Contact Lens Spectrum editor.

Joseph Barr, OD, MS, FAAO, vice president, Global Clinical and Medical Affairs and Professional Services, Vision Care for Bausch & Lomb, was honored for his contributions to the contact lens industry.

EFCLIN, whose membership includes international contact lens manufacturers and suppliers, each year recognizes a dedicated individual whose selfless contributions have made a lasting and positive effect on the industry. Dr. Barr was chosen specifically for his continued commitment to education, and for his many professional publications and lectures by which he has advanced the fitting of contact lenses.

Dr. Barr has devoted his career to professional education as well as research and development. He is an emeritus professor of Optometry and Vision Science at The Ohio State University College of Optometry and was the director of the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation in Keratoconus Photography Reading Center. Prior to joining Bausch & Lomb in July 2007 as vice president, Global Research and Development, Vision Care, he served as the associate dean for Clinical Services and Professional Program at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. From 1987 to 2007, Dr. Barr was editor of Contact Lens Spectrum and also edited the Contact Lenses Today weekly e-mail newsletter.

Lens Care Solutions Approved for Use with Hybrids
■ SynergEyes, Inc. has received FDA market clearance for the use of the following lens care products with SynergEyes hybrid contact lenses: CIBA Vision's Aquify Multi-Purpose solution, Advanced Medical Optics' (AMO) Complete Multi-Purpose Easy Rub, AMO's Oxysept UltraCare Formula Peroxide Disinfection System and Bausch & Lomb's ReNu MultiPlus multipurpose solution. These products join Alcon's Opti-Free Express, which received FDA market clearance for use with SynergEyes lenses in late 2005.
"Several lens care products proved to be compatible with our HydrolEyes surface science and complemented our materials on eye. The care product requirements for the SynergEyes hydrophilic rigid gas permeable center and soft skirt surface are similar to the requirement for surface modified silicone hydrogel lenses," said Dr. Ramazan Benrashid, SynergEyes' director of Research and Development and senior polymer scientist.

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Vistakon Names Senior Director

Vistakon, Professional Development Group, has named a new senior director for Professional and Medical Affairs. Peg Achenbach, OD, will lead the company's Medical Affairs group and also will direct the team at The Vision Care Institute, LLC., a Johnson & Johnson Company.

Before joining Vistakon, Dr. Achenbach was vice president of Medical Operations for SDR Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where she spearheaded research and product development in oncology, HIV, TB, antimicrobial agents and dermatology. Following her graduation from Pacific University College of Optometry, Dr. Achenbach directed the testing and development of new contact lens solutions and materials while managing clinical research at Bausch & Lomb. She also founded an optometric practice specializing in fitting contact lenses, ocular disease and low vision.

Dr. Achenbach is a panel member of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and a member of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

Jacobson Joins Menicon
Menicon has appointed Jonathan Jacobson as general manager, Global Business Strategies & Operations. Jacobson joins Menicon after serving at Bausch & Lomb for 23 years. For the last eight years he has been the Director of Global GP Business for B&L.
Mr. Jacobson will be based in the United States while being responsible for the company's business and strategies operations throughout the world including the recently acquired Rose K business.
Mr. Toshio Matsushima, senior executive officer for Menicon, Co., Ltd, said, "Mr. Jacobson, with his exceptional knowledge of and experience in the global contact lens business and strong leadership skills, is now a key player in our organization and will play a leading role in expanding our business worldwide."
Mr. Jacobson commented, "I look forward to the new challenges of working with Menicon's team to expand the company's presence in the global contact lens market."

Survey Asks for MD Views on Dry Eye Treatments

Aton Pharma, Inc., provider of the dry eye medication Lacrisert (hydroxypropyl cellulose ophthalmic insert) recently surveyed ophthalmologists about their perspectives of treatment options for patients who have moderate to severe dry eye. Nearly all of the respondents (94 percent) believe more treatment options are needed for moderate to severe dry eye patients.

In addition, while 80 percent feel current therapies are effective for mild dry eye, only 33 percent feel they are effective for moderate dry eye and 67 percent feel they are only somewhat effective or not very effective. Only 5 percent feel current therapies are effective for severe dry eye, while 56 percent feel they are somewhat effective and 38 percent not very or not at all effective for severe dry eye.

Most (83 percent) of the survey respondents feel there is a treatment gap between artificial tears and more aggressive treatments for moderate to severe dry eye.

Among the most common key considerations among respondents when selecting treatment options for moderate to severe dry eye patients are ability to provide continuous relief (84 percent) and ability to use long-term (74 percent). Other considerations included dosing frequency (66 percent), length of time preserving the tear film (66 percent) and length of time to effectiveness (63 percent). The chief goals identified in treating moderate to severe dry eye are maintaining and protecting the ocular surface and lubricating and hydrating the ocular surface.

The survey was completed between Oct. 9, 2008 and Oct. 21, 2008. Ophthalmologists nationwide were invited via e-mail to enter the online survey, and those who treated four or more moderate to severe dry eye patients per month were asked to complete the survey. A total of 245 completed the survey, including 51 corneal specialists, 153 comprehensive/general ophthalmologists and 41 from other ophthalmology specialty categories.

SMART Study One-Year Data to be Presented
The EyeVis Eye and Vision Research Institute announced the completion of one-year data for the Stabilization of Myopia by Accelerated Reshaping Technique (SMART) Study. The SMART study recruited more than 250 test (corneal reshaping) and control (soft silicone hydrogel daily wear) subjects ages 8 to 14 at initiation of the planned five-year, multicenter study that will evaluate the ability of corneal reshaping contact lenses to control myopia progression.
"Initial analysis is very encouraging in regard to the ability of corneal reshaping lenses to control myopic progression versus the use of daily wear soft contact lenses in the study population," said S. Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO, and Robert Davis, OD, FAAO, the principal investigators of the SMART study. Detailed reporting of the one-year data will be presented at the upcoming Global Specialty Lens Symposium in Las Vegas in January 2009.

Professor Brien Holden, CEO of the Institute for Eye Research and professor of the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales, has been awarded the Carel C. Koch Memorial Medal Award at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry. Professor Holden received the award as recognition by the Academy of his outstanding contribution to the enhancement and development of relationships between optometry and other professions. Carel Koch was a founding member of the Academy and for more than 30 years its secretary and editor of the Academy's journal Optometry and Vision Science.

■ At the recent American Academy of Optometry meeting, Vistakon announced new findings from the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study, which indicate that compared to glasses, contact lens wear offers improved vision-related quality of life benefits for children and teenagers. The company also announced results of a toric lens study indicating that toric soft lens design affects lens stability and visual acuity, particularly during abnormal gaze movements such as scanning a newspaper for information, gazing to the extreme side for changing lanes while driving or playing sports. The research compared the effect of gaze direction and posture on toric lens orientation and visual acuity of contact lenses using either an Accelerated Stabilization Design or a prism-ballasted design.

■ CLSA Past President Kenneth V. "Kenny" Swanson passed away on Nov. 5 at his home in St. Louis, MO. He was 90 years old. Ken was president of the CLSA in 1963. In 1979 he endowed the Kenneth V. Swanson Merit Award, awarded every other year on even years, to serve as recognition to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the contact lens industry.

Polyquad and Aldox, the dual disinfectants in both Opti-Free Replenish and Opti-Free Express Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Solutions (Alcon), are celebrating their 10th anniversary. The combination was first introduced as a disinfecting system in the Opti-Free Franchise in 1998.

OcuSense, Inc., a subsidiary of Occu-Logix, Inc., has submitted a 510(k) premarket notification to the FDA for clearance to market its TearLab Osmolarity System and the TearLab Osmolarity Test Card in the United States. The TearLab System recently obtained CE Marking and is currently sold and marketed in five European countries. The system is currently available for research only in the United States.

■ The Institute for Eye Research, in collaboration with the University of Wollongong and the University of New South Wales, has secured an Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grant that will support a collaborative project investigating tear film lipids. The project will identify the molecules within this essential layer to better understand dry eye syndrome and the discomfort associated with lens wear.

Prevent Blindness America has been awarded a three-year cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with a first-year grant of $1 million. PBA will use the grant to fund its "National Vision Preservation Initiative," a public and private collaborative effort designed to develop an integrative and pioneering approach to eye health promotion and vision loss prevention.

Eyemaginations, Inc. has released a comprehensive cataract-premium IOL patient education program that was developed in collaboration with David F. Chang, MD. The software is designed to help ophthalmologists and their staff provide patients with a balanced and comprehensive overview of IOL options available with cataract surgery. The cataract module will be available to all existing customers of Eyemaginations using the 3D-Eye Office software program.

■ Cataract surgery patients and their caregivers now have a new online educational resource to gather information on cataracts at The new site, sponsored by Alcon, provides information on cataract surgery and intraocular lens options as well as other resources.

RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that its ophthalmic drug candidate RGN-259 was used to treat four neurotrophic keratitis patients with non-healing eye ulcers caused primarily by the herpes zoster virus under a "Compassionate Use" IND. RGN-259 is a sterile drop formulation of TB4 in development for use in treating ophthalmic wounds and related disorders. In all four patients, the eye ulcers either completely healed or demonstrated significant improvement by treatment day 28.

Ista Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has filed a New Drug Application with the FDA for Bepreve (bepotastine ophthalmic solution). The company is seeking approval for Bepreve as an eye drop treatment for ocular itching associated with allergic conjunctivitis.

Optometry Giving Sight has named Victor Connors, OD, as CEO of the global fundraising organization in the United States. Dr. Connors will remain as Chair of the National Committee in the United States and as a member of the OGS Global Board. Dr. Connors fills a position held on an interim basis by Clive Miller, Global Deputy CEO of OGS. Miller will continue to manage the strategic marketing and development of the global organization.