No Prescription Needed in British Columbia
The British Columbia (B.C.) Ministry of Health Services recently proposed changes to the regulations governing optometrists and opticians and the dispensing of contact lenses and spectacles that went into effect on May 1. According to the Ministry, the changes to the regulations for opticians and optometrists under the Health Professions Act include:
• Removal of most of the restrictions that allow only opticians or optometrists, or workers supervised by them, to dispense glasses or contact lenses.
• Allowing prescriptions issued by medical doctors and optometrists outside of the province to be filled within B.C.
• Allowing people to order glasses or contact lenses online without having to give the seller a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact lens specifications.
• Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to include in a prescription or sight-test assessment the measurement of distance between the client's pupils, which is required for the proper fitting of glasses.
• Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to give clients, free of charge, a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment, or contact lens specifications—whether or not it is requested by the client—and also to give a copy, free of charge, to a thirdparty eyewear seller or other person if requested by the client.
In the Ministry's announcement, Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon stated, "With advances in technology and more consumers turning to the Internet, it makes sense to modernize a decades-old system to give British Columbians more choice while maintaining public safety."
The British Columbia Association of Optometrists (BCAO) mounted a campaign against the proposed changes in March. "Allowing people to buy contacts online without having to prove that they have a prescription is like allowing patients to keep ordering medicine from an old prescription without ever having to go back to their doctor to have a check-up on their condition or to make sure the treatment is still appropriate," said Dr. Antoinette Dumalo, president of the BCAO.
The BCAO also noted that the regulation changes are not about protecting health, citing the Ministry announcement that stated, "an October 2009 decision by the B.C. Court of Appeals found that Coastal Contacts, a B.C.-based online eyewear seller with approximately 120 employees, is contravening the regulations by dispensing contact lens refills without seeing a prescription and that ‘these regulatory changes will address the court decision.’"
The news release from the Ministry is available at http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2010HSERV0015-000286.htm. For information from the BCAO on these changes, visit http://optometrists.bc.ca/code/navigate.aspx?Id=156.
Cooper Launches Online Program
Last month, Cooper-Vision launched "Contact Sports," an education and community outreach program designed to help teens understand how healthy vision can improve their competitive performance on and off the field. It also offers them a chance to win $2,500 through Gear Up Grants.
As part of "Contact Sports," CooperVision is giving away a total of $25,000 in Gear Up Grants, in which teens can compete to win funding for essential sports gear, including free CooperVision lenses for those who need them. Ten grants will be awarded, with submissions accepted until June 25 at www.mycontactsports.com.
Additionally, the practitioner site at mycontactsports.com offers sharable content that the company says can give practitioners a competitive edge with teens by offering tools to attract new patients, build their practice, and become a resource for teen vision correction in their community.
Dr. Donald Teig, a sports vision specialist, has partnered with "Contact Sports" to educate teens about the relationship between healthy vision and sports performance.
In related news, CooperVision has introduced a Facebook page for consumers, featuring information on contact lenses, company news and updates, and free trial offers. Consumers can also access the "Where in the World is My Practitioner?" widget at www.facebook.com/coopervision that allows them to enter their zip code and find practitioners in their area.
Publication Stresses Protection From UV
To help parents, caregivers and others better understand the risks associated with ultraviolet (UV) exposure to the eyes and steps to take to minimize UV exposure, Healthy-Women, the independent health information source for women, is offering "Fast Facts for Your Health: The Sun & Your Eyes: What You Need to Know."
The free publication, developed with the support of Vistakon, offers guidance on what to look for in selecting sunglasses to keep eyes safe from the sun. It also offers information about UV-blocking contact lenses, which can provide an important measure of additional protection for individuals who wear contact lenses.
"It can take years before you experience any of the sun's damaging effects on your eyes, but some damage can also occur in the short term," says Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, and executive director of Healthy-Women. "This latest in our series of ‘Fast Facts for Your Health’ resources can help families understand the potential damage that UV can cause to their eyes and vision. It's a quick read on the unexpected sources of UV radiation damage, as well as straightforward, practical advice for minimizing the risks of UV exposure."
Eyecare practitioners can obtain a complimentary and customizable PDF, which can be used online or printed, by emailing their request to email@example.com. If you are interested in customizing copies for your practice/ office, follow these steps when e-mailing your request. Provide the information you want to display (i.e., practice name, address, phone number, Web site address) following these specifications: between 1 and 8 lines; type no larger than 12 points; logo may be supplied in place of name/address; must fit in upper right corner of publication.
AAO Announces Fellowships
Ten optometry students from the United States and China were chosen by The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) to receive travel fellowships to the 2010 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting.
The fellowships, sponsored by The Vision Care Institute and administered by the American Academy of Optometry's Research Committee, allowed students to attend the meeting and present their papers or posters. Each recipient received a $750 award, which was given at the jointly sponsored American Academy of Optometry-American Optometric Association Optometric Researchers Reception during ARVO.
The student travel fellowship recipients were Wendy Harrison, OD, MS, FAAO, School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley; Qiong Liu, MD, University of Houston College of Optometry; Jessica Mathew, OD, University of Houston College of Optometry; Nimesh Patel, OD, FAAO, University of Houston College of Optometry; Joshua Pratt, University of Houston College of Optometry; Andrew Pucker, The Ohio State University College of Optometry; Danielle Teel, OD, FAAO, Indiana University School of Optometry; Preethi Thiagarajan, MSc, State University of New York College of Optometry; Jing Wang, MD, University of Houston College of Optometry; and Zhangyi Zhong, Indiana University School of Optometry.
"The student travel fellowship is a highly competitive program that receives applications from the brightest and best students from North America and overseas," said Dr. Lyndon Jones, AAO's research committee chair. "These students present their latest research at ARVO and demonstrate the extremely high quality research being undertaken by young vision scientists around the globe. This program supports future leaders of optometry, by selecting students who have demonstrated the highest level of achievement in the profession and allowing them to share their findings with other researchers."
International Vision Expo Launches Online Platform
Show management for International Vision Expo will launch Virtual Vision Expo, an online extension of International Vision Expo's physical trade shows held in New York City and Las Vegas. The new online platform is scheduled to launch in early November and will feature an auditorium for continuing education and training sessions; a networking lounge for one-to-one chats and peer-to-peer networking; and an exhibit hall to visit booths, view product presentations and demonstrations, ask questions, and place orders. Attendees will also have access to a resource center where they will be able to save presentations, white papers, and e-brochures to a virtual briefcase.
"Advances in technology have greatly changed the way we do business," said Tom Loughran, vice president for Reed Exhibitions. "Now with just a computer and an Internet browser, Virtual Vision Expo will offer eyecare professionals the experiences of a trade show without the travel costs and time away from the office."
Final details about Virtual Vision Expo will be available in the coming months, and registration is set to open shortly after International Vision Expo West.
Menicon Appoints New Development Director
■ Jackson Leung has been appointed as North Asia business development director in Menicon's Global Strategy and Operations group. Jackson will report to Jonathan Jacobson, Menicon's general manager, Global Strategies & Operations. Leung, who is a trained optometrist, joins Menicon with more than 20 years of experience in the contact lens industry, having worked in a variety of positions with several leading companies, including Bausch + Lomb and Essilor. For the past 10 years, he was responsible for the Polymer Technology business of B+L in Asia, where he led the expansion of the Boston lens and lens care business in the region.
Vistakon Pledges to Cummings Memorial Fund
The AOA Foundation has received a generous pledge from Vistakon on behalf of the Dr. Pat and Patrick Cummings Memorial Fund. Over the next five years, Vistakon will contribute $50,000 to the Memorial Fund.
For the Record
In the May issue, the article "A Report From GSLS 2010," by Gregory J. Nixon, OD, FAAO, stated that "A new generation of hybrids with a GP center Dk of 130 and a soft skirt Dk of 85 are currently awaiting FDA approval." SynergEyes reports that this hybrid lens utilizing the higher-Dk material already has FDA market clearance and a soft launch of the lens is currently underway.
■ ABO Launches Web Site and Online Application
■ DAC International has a new majority owner, American Industries, an investment company in Portland, Ore. Over the past 10 months, American Industries has been working with DAC International's management team to facilitate growth and the acquisition of new technology, including assisting with the acquisition of the technology to design, manufacture, sell, and service the Contamac BV Opteq System. American Industries is in full support of the existing DAC International management team, led by President Jim Drain, and the direction they have established.
■ European manufacturer Mark'ennovy and U.K.-based No7 Contact Lenses have entered into a strategic alliance to bring together the respective strengths of the two companies. Both companies will remain independent and autonomous businesses. The combined portfolio of products and service offered by both companies spans a broad range of contact lenses, including GP lenses and tailor-made silicone hydrogel lenses, and professional services. Mark'ennovy also recently acquired Vista Optics Ltd., a polymer company based in Cheshire, England. Vista Optics is a major supplier of polymers to the medical device industry, particularly for intraocular lenses and contact lenses.
■ Allergan has received FDA approval for Zymaxid (gatifloxacin ophthalmic solution) 0.5%, a topical fluoroquinolone anti-infective indicated for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis caused by susceptible strains of the following organisms: Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus mitisgroup, Streptococcus oralis, and Streptococcus pneumonia. Allergan says that Zymaxid is now the highest concentration gatifloxacin ophthalmic solution on the market in the United States. It is formulated with the preservative benzalkonium chloride.
■ Eyedock, LLC, has made its online clinical reference free to all optometry students and faculty. The EyeDock subscription provides users with a searchable contact lens and pharmaceuticals database. The Web site also features a cross-cylinder calculator, Parks' three-step assistant, and an employee incentive calculator. Schools and colleges of optometry that have not yet set up free access to EyeDock.com should designate a representative to contact Todd Zarwell, OD, FAAO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Optovue has received FDA 510(k) clearance for its new iVue compact SD-OCT, which is delivered on a standard slit lamp style base and is comprised of a small scanning head (4.5 lbs/2.2kg), a control module, laptop PC and foot switch. The system can be mounted to a small table and may have other mounting options in the near future for other eyecare environments. The company says that the clearance allows them to provide the benefits of advanced OCT imaging to more segments within eye care, where the economic feasibility of the larger systems did not work.
■ Bausch + Lomb has received FDA approval to market the Crystalens AO in quarterdiopter steps in the United States. Quarter diopters will be available for the Crystalens AO for the models AT50AO and AT52AO in the ranges of 18 to 22. B+L expects to have a wider dioptric range available by the end of the year. The company began shipping the Crystalens AO in the additional diopter steps last month.
■ At this year's ARVO meeting, Kilvington et al presented an abstract that described a quantifiable, reproducible, and reliable method for assessing the disinfection of Acanthamoeba by contact lens care solutions. They reported that this will facilitate the introduction of a standardized and universal approach to Acanthamoeba disinfection testing in line with that prescribed by ISO 14729 for bacteria and fungi.
■ Two studies presented at ARVO demonstrated positive results for Inspire Pharmaceuticals' Azasite. Pullos et al reported that warm compresses with lid hygiene and Azasite proved to be an effective treatment for combined posterior and anterior blepharitis. This treatment had a beneficial effect in evaporative dry eye with secondary increase in tear meniscus. Sadrai et al concluded that following an inflammatory insult, topical Azasite considerably reduces the leukocyte infiltration in to the cornea at levels comparable to a prednisolone-treated group. Results indicated that Azasite may have a potential anti-inflammatory effect on corneal inflammation.
■ A poster was presented at ARVO by Jodi Luchs, MD, FACS, on the efficacy of Aton Pharma's Lacrisert in dry eye syndrome. Analysis of variance showed significant differences in Ocular Surface Disease Index scores between dry eye severity groups after four weeks of treatment with Lacrisert; the largest decrease in scores occurred in the severe dry eye group (29.8 percent) while scores in the moderate dry eye group decreased by 18.9 percent.
■ Sarcode Corporation, a privately held biotechnology company, has announced results of a 230-patient Phase 2 proof-of-concept study evaluating topical SAR 1118 ophthalmic solution in the treatment of aqueous deficient dry eye. The study results demonstrated clear improvements in both signs and symptoms of dry eye at 12 weeks. SAR 1118 was well-tolerated, with no serious adverse events reported. SAR 1118 is a novel small molecule lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 antagonist.