News Spectrum

NEWS spectrum

House Passes Vision Care for Kids Act

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Vision Care for Kids Act (HR 577), which seeks to provide new federal funding to expand the reach of children's vision programs enacted at the state level. The bill received overwhelming support from the House and passed with a vote of 404 to 17 as part of a larger Public Health Week initiative of Congress. Bill sponsors include Gene Green (D-TX), John Sullivan (R-OK), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Elliot Engel (D-NY), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

HR 577 provides children with the follow-up care needed after a comprehensive eye exam or vision screening identifies a potential vision problem. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to provide $65 million in grant funding to proven efforts to allow more children, particularly those under 9 years of age who are already known to be at-risk for vision problems, to receive comprehensive eye examinations and appropriate care from their local optometrist or other eye doctor. Grants would also go toward supporting public education and awareness efforts designed to promote early detection and treatment of vision.

"The Vision Care for Kids Act is an important assignment for Congress and a timely reminder for America of what needs to be done to help concerned parents and teachers ensure that no child is left behind in the classroom due to an undiagnosed or untreated vision problem," said Peter H. Kehoe, president of the American Optometric Association.

The Vision Care for Kids Act is supported by the alliance of the AOA, Prevent Blindness America, The Vision Council, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Also supporting the bill are the National Association of School Nurses, the National Association of Vision Care Plans, National Head Start Association, Opticians Association of America, Reading is Fundamental, and Vision Service Plan.

Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has introduced S. 259, the Senate companion bill to HR 577, which has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

AOA Offers Online CE

Optometrists can obtain free online continuing education courses through the Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) of the American Optometric Association (AOA). The site, AOA CE Online, is an advanced, hyper-learning portal featuring Web-video content packaged in an interactive format.

Four courses are currently available at The topics include: Challenges & Rewards of Presbyopia Management, Kicking Contact Lens Dropouts, 1-Day Contact Lenses, and Silicone Hydrogel Update. All courses have been approved by the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE).

The site integrates continuing education testing and certification, tracking and reporting for continuing education hours, and user-survey feedback.

Developed in 2007, the program is supported by an educational grant courtesy of CooperVision.

Mark André, FAAO, was recently awarded the Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA) Joseph W. Soper Award for Excellence in Education. Established in 1995, the award recognizes outstanding contributions in the area of contact lens education.

Lensco recently promoted Grant Parsons to director of Manufacturing & Consultation. Grant Parsons has 30 years of experience in contact lens design manufacturing and fitting consultation and is also certified by Paragon Vision Sciences for Paragon CRT.

■ The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the leading organization for people who have asthma and allergies, and 1-Day Acuvue Moist (Vistakon) are offering a free educational brochure called Eye Health and Allergies. This brochure offers information on how eye allergies occur, common signs and symptoms, and practical advice on how to treat and prevent eye allergies. It also includes allergy season strategies for contact lens wearers. Practitioners who would like to order a set (50 brochures) for their office can send an e-mail request including complete mailing address to

■ Several studies presented at the recent American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) meeting reported that Blink Tears (Advanced Medical Optics) produced significantly less blur and improved patients symptoms to a significantly greater extent than a competing drop when used concomitantly with Restasis (Allergan); that Blink Tears improved signs and symptoms of post-LASIK dry eye better than other artificial tears; and that Blink Tears users experienced a significant reduction in root mean square higher-order aberrations as well as greater improvement in uncorrected visual acuity and that significantly more patients preferred Blink Tears post-LASIK compared to a competing product.

TearLab Corporation announced that its TearLab Osmolarity System has received a 2009 Medical Design Excellence Award (MDEA). The MDEA competition is organized and presented by Canon Communications LLC of Los Angeles, and is the only awards program that exclusively recognizes contributions and advances in the design of medical products.

Sirion Therapeutics, Inc. has announced positive results from a planned interim analysis of its Phase II trial evaluating fenretinide for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA) associated with age-related macular degeneration. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast Track designation for fenretinide for the treatment of GA associated with AMD.

Bausch & Lomb Storz Ophthalmic Instruments recently launched two new continuing education programs available at Through this site participants will have the opportunity to engage in self-directed continuing education programs and receive contact hours approved by the Texas Nurses Association, the Certification Board for Sterile Processing & Distribution, Inc., and the International Association for Healthcare Central Service Material Management. The programs are geared toward various staff members within the ophthalmic surgical setting.

Allergan has launched Latisse Wishes, in which actress Brooke Shields and beauty expert to the stars Anastasia Soare will lead a campaign to generate $1 million to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children who have life-threatening medical conditions. The campaign launched with an initial donation of $500,000 from Allergan to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Between now and December 31, 2009, Allergan will donate $5 for each new visitor who registers online for Latisse Wishes at, up to an additional $500,000.

Novagali Pharma, a French pharmaceutical ophthalmic company, announced successful completion of a new Phase II clinical study with Cyclokat, its formulation of cyclosporine. The results demonstrated significant treatment effect on multiple efficacy variables for both signs and symptoms of moderate-to-severe dry eye at month one and at month three. Ongoing Phase III study results are expected Q4 2009.

Study Looks at Hydrogel Versus Silicone Hydrogel

A new study that compared the symptoms and experiences associated with habitual hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses among young adults and measured their association with age found that from the ages of 18 to 35, hydrogel lens wearers report an increasing struggle with contact lens wear and express more problems due to feelings of dryness and discomfort compared to silicone hydrogel wearers.

The study, sponsored by Vistakon, appears in the May issue of Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, the official journal of the British Contact Lens Association.

Questionnaire responses from 699 hydrogel and 183 silicone hydrogel wearers regarding their habitual contact lenses as they entered two prospective North American clinical trials were combined into one dataset and analyzed to test the association of age with features indicating struggle with lens wear. Hydrogel and silicone hydrogel wearers from 70 sites in the United States and 14 sites in Canada participated in the study. Prevalence by age was compared between groups with Pearson's chi-square and within groups with Spearman's correlation coefficient.

Fewer silicone hydrogel wearers reported feeling dryness and discomfort at the end of the day compared to those wearing hydrogel lenses. Silicone hydrogel wearers also reported a lower frequency of dryness and irritation with lenses and better end-of-day comfort and moistness on the lens compared to wearers of hydrogel lenses. End-of-day dryness was reported by nearly twice as many respondents as was end-of-day discomfort in either lens group. This was especially noticeable among hydrogel lens wearers and is in agreement with earlier studies on hydrogel lenses, researchers note.

Hydrogel wearers reported more sensitivity to environmental triggers such as smoky or dry air compared to their silicone hydrogel wearers, and discomfort in these two settings increased with age for the hydrogel wearers only. Hydrogel wearers were more likely to consider discontinuing lens wear as they got older, with those in the 30- to 35-year-old age group more than three times as likely to consider it than the 18- to 24-year-old hydrogel wearers. The proportion of silicone hydrogel wearers considering discontinuation did not change with age, remaining steady at 9 percent, perhaps due to many of these patients being previously diagnosed with dry eye.

"These findings suggest that practitioners should routinely query their young adult contact lens patients about how their lenses feel rather than just how well they can see," said Sheila Hickson-Curran, director, Medical Affairs, Vistakon, and a co-author of the study.

■ Bausch & Lomb has appointed Brian J. Harris as chief financial officer and corporate vice president. Harris, a business and finance executive having more than three decades of experience with multinational organizations, will be based at B&L's world headquarters in Rochester, NY.
Beginning in 1989, Mr. Harris held positions of increasing responsibility with Tomkins plc, the industrial, automotive, building products, and engineering manufacturing conglomerate. These included roles as president of the $2 billion Worldwide Power Transmission business for Denver, Colorado-based Gates Corporation, as well as senior vice president for Strategic Business Development, and chief financial officer and company secretary. He also served as president of Gates Unitta Asia, the company's Japanese joint venture.
Prior, Mr. Harris held financial director and controller roles with Tomkins operating. He began his career as a staff accountant in the Glasgow office of Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Jurij Kushner, B&L corporate vice president, who has served as interim CFO since January 2009, will retire as planned from the company after a brief transition.

Heart of America Grants, Awards

At the 48th Annual Heart of America Contact Lens Society (HOACLS) Congress held in February, the following students were awarded a $2,000 educational grant in the form of a scholarship from the society:

  • Stephanie Erker, UMSL College of Optometry
  • Ryan Read, UMSL College of Optometry
  • Tiffany Walters, Southern College of Optometry
  • Dr. Joni LaFerla, HOACLS Past President
  • Amanda Umlandt, Michigan College of Optometry
  • Kim Brunk, NSU-Oklahoma College of Optometry

In addition, the Heart of America Contact Lens Society Vision Service Award was presented to Jack Hartstein, OD, MD. The HOACLS Vision Service Award is presented annually to an individual or to a group that exhibits extraordinary dedication and untiring service to the profession of optometry.

The Board of Directors of the HOACLS also presented the 2009 Optometrist of the Year award to Dr. Les Walls of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Successful Hydrogel Wearers Prefer Silicone Hydrogel
A new study from Vistakon indicates that most loyal and happy wearers of Acuvue 2 contact lenses who have tried Acuvue Oasys silicone hydrogel contact lenses say that they see improved lens performance with the contact lens made from senofilcon A.
In a recent retrospective analysis conducted by the company, 278 habitual Acuvue 2 wearers between the ages of 18 and 39 and with an average length of four years wearing time tried Acuvue Oasys for two weeks. Prior to the study, virtually all participants rated Acuvue 2 as either "excellent/very good" (73 percent) or "good" (25 percent).
According to Vistakon, participants reported feeling the benefit of Acuvue Oasys immediately upon being fit and throughout the wear schedule. After one week of wear, 67 percent of participants gave Acuvue Oasys higher ratings than Acuvue 2 for both vision and comfort.
Acuvue 2 wearers also reported an increase of almost one hour in comfortable wear time when wearing Acuvue Oasys.

Alcon Research Institute Awards Research Grants

The Alcon Research Institute (ARI) has selected six doctors to receive awards for their research contributions in the field of ophthalmology and vision science. These new members of the ARI were nominated by previous winners and will receive awards of $200,000 in unrestricted grant money from the ARI to continue their research into the underlying causes of eye disease, which will be presented at the 2011 symposium.

The 2009 ARI winners are:

  • Robert Ali, PhD, for his extensive body of work studying the effects of gene therapy on visual function.
  • Brenda L. Gallie, MD, for her distinguished career and research into the genetic causes of retinoblastoma.
  • Gregory S. Hagerman, PhD, for his significant contributions to the study of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Mark S. Humayan, MD, PhD, for his groundbreaking research in the development of a retinal prosthetic device.
  • Robert W. Massof, PhD, and Eli Peli, MSc, OD, who will share an award for their impressive research on low vision rehabilitation.

Over the past 28 years, 241 scientists have been honored with the ARI Award, with grants totaling approximately $22 million provided to winners for the advancement of vision research.