Report Shows U.S. Shifting to Daily Disposable Lenses
In the U.S. contact lens market, upgrade is the word of the moment, according to GfK Fits data. In the past six months, 36% of contact lens users who switched brands moved to higher-priced products, usually from weekly or monthly to daily disposable (DD) lenses, or from “traditional” models to those made of higher-quality materials.
GfK Fits data—from independent optics shops and chains in the United States—show that DD lenses continue to post double-digit annual growth after roughly 20 years on the market. In 2015, DD lens sales have already risen 23%, while monthly lens sales grew by 7%, and weekly lenses dropped 6%.
Factors contributing to these marketplace shifts include: 1) New “family” assortments (e.g., mixing sphere, multifocal, and/or toric lenses) in the DD category have made switching more convenient; 2) The introduction of lower-priced DD products has also made upgrading more attractive; and 3) Unilateral Pricing Policies introduced in 2014 have helped to hold prices for some lenses.
Specifically, GfK’s data show strong growth among several new DD lens styles in 2015, such as: toric—unit volume up 37%, multifocal—66% unit growth, and cosmetic—59% unit growth.
IACLE Calls for Professional Involvement in CL Fitting and Supply
The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) released a position statement that calls for trained professionals to be involved in the fitting and supply of contact lenses in all countries to help ensure their proper use worldwide. This follows a recent release of a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which highlighted the need for education efforts to improve contact lens hygiene behaviors.
IACLE notes that regulations on contact lens fitting and supply vary widely around the world. In some countries, legislation requires that contact lenses only be fitted by a suitably trained and/or qualified eyecare or health professional; in other countries, fitting remains unregulated. Likewise, supply of contact lenses may be restricted to specified personnel, or they may be available via pharmacies, supermarkets, and online suppliers, or from unregulated optical shops.
IACLE’s position is that whenever contact lenses are fitted and supplied, safeguards must be in place to help protect the health and comfort of wearers’ eyes. The organization also believes that the involvement of a trained professional in contact lens fitting and supply is important to the proper use of contact lenses worldwide.
CooperVision Seeks Best Practices Honorees
CooperVision recently unveiled a Best Practices initiative (EyeCareBestPractices.com)—kicking off a nationwide search for honorees. The company says that Best Practices will discover and recognize U.S. eyecare practices that have found unique ways to make their businesses thrive and can share a refreshing perspective with the entire profession.
All U.S. optometry practices currently fitting contact lenses are invited to participate. Best Practices candidates are encouraged to submit practice profiles and stories, sharing their insights and experiences in one or more of the following areas:
• Innovation will be evaluated on contributions to the betterment of eye health and education, leveraging technology in interesting ways to grow the practice, and advancing the eyecare profession among the public.
• Patient Experience will be judged on how a practice delivers excellent eyecare experiences and education to its patients as well as unique aspects of patient care.
• Business Culture will be rated on a cultivation of staff, an enriching working environment, and community impact in relation to the overall success of the office.
Candidates can choose to submit their stories via written responses or video at EyeCareBestPractices.com. Applications will be accepted through Monday, Nov. 23, 2015.
The inaugural Best Practices recipients will be announced in January 2016. CooperVision says that honorees will be broadly recognized among their peers and presented with opportunities to help educate and elevate the profession.
VEW Hosts Fourth Global Contact Lens Forum
The fourth Global Contact Lens Forum (GCLF) took place at Vision Expo West on Sept. 16. About 370 attendees experienced the latest scientific content combined with critical business strategies related to contact lenses. Free to attendees, the forum was supported by Alcon, Allergan, Bausch + Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. It was also endorsed by the British Contact Lens Association and the Contact Lens Society of America.
New topics included “Soft Contact Lens Prescribing Trends – Where do you ‘fit’?” “How to succeed and profit in contact lens practice – is it still possible?” “Large diameter GP CLs – scleral lenses, indications, limitations, practice pearls,” “Presbyopia Contact Lens Management – how close are we to the holy grail design?” “Future developments in contact lens technologies – what’s on the horizon and where do we need to go,” and more.
GCLF faculty included Louise Sclafani, OD (co-director); S. Barry Eiden, OD (co-director); Scot Morris, OD; Robert Davis, OD; Clarke Newman, OD; and Michael Ward, MMSc, FCLSA.
FTC Stops App’s Misleading Claims
To settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges, the marketers of a software application for mobile devices and personal computers have agreed to stop making deceptive claims that their “Ultimeyes” app can improve users’ vision. Under the terms of a proposed settlement with the FTC, Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc. and its co-owners have also agreed to pay $150,000.
The FTC’s complaint states that since 2012, Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc. and its co-owners, Adam Goldberg and Aaron Seitz, have advertised and sold Ultimeyes claiming that it is “scientifically shown to improve vision.” Ads for Ultimeyes claimed that users would benefit from “comprehensive vision improvement” and that using the app would reduce the need for glasses and contact lenses.
The ads further claimed that studies, including those conducted by Seitz, prove that Ultimeyes works. The FTC alleges that Seitz’s studies and other “scientific research” do not prove that Ultimeyes improves vision. The FTC also alleges that the marketers failed to disclose Seitz’s affiliation with the company when touting his studies in advertising.
The proposed settlement requires Carrot and its owners to have competent and reliable scientific evidence before making the vision claims challenged in the FTC complaint for Ultimeyes and similar products, or claims regarding the health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects of any product or service. The proposed order also prohibits them from misrepresenting any scientific research, and it requires them to clearly disclose any connections with anyone conducting or participating in scientific research whom they cite as substantiation for their claims and to disclose connections with anyone endorsing their products.
ABB and Paragon Launch University Education Challenge
ABB Optical Group, in partnership with Paragon Vision Sciences, has announced that eight optometry schools from across the country will compete for a $5,000 unrestricted educational grant in the companies’ first University Education Challenge, a program designed to support the optometrists of tomorrow.
Each participating school will select a team from its third-year class to create a 45- to 60-minute live, online presentation on any topic relating to contact lenses. The presentations, held monthly from September through April, will be judged on overall webinar attendance and scores of a post-webinar survey that will be emailed to all optometrists and optometry students who viewed the presentation. The winning team will be announced at the 2016 Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE) meeting in June. Visit ABBConcise.com/The_University_Education_Challenge.
The eight participating schools and when they are scheduled to present are Indiana University School of Optometry (Sept. 30), University of Houston College of Optometry (Oct. 28), Southern College of Optometry (Nov. 18), Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry (Dec. 16), Pacific University College of Optometry (Jan. 27), UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry (Feb. 24), New England College of Optometry (March 30), and University of Missouri College of Optometry (April 27).
■ Visionary Optics has developed a packet to assist practitioners in marketing their scleral lens practice in an effort to gain referrals from other practitioners. The packet includes a case study brochure that defines scleral lenses, their indications, and their provided benefits. It also includes a draft introductory letter and a variety of published articles. The packet is available on the Visionary Optics website at www.visionary-optics.com/support/practitioner-marketing-referral-packet.
■ Blanchard Contact Lenses has added additional Beyond the Limbus, one-day intensive scleral lens fitting workshops this fall. In addition to those reported in last month’s “News Spectrum,” workshops will be held in Chicago on Oct. 3 or 4; Houston on Nov. 14 or 15; and Toronto on Nov. 22. To register for Chicago or Houston, contact Richard Dorer at (800) 367-4009, ext. 131 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To register for Toronto, contact Amy Chow at (647) 955-1226 or email@example.com.
■ CooperVision, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of its new corporate offices in Victor’s High Point development in the Rochester, NY area. Approximately 325 employees have moved into the building, relocating from the Woodcliff office park in Fairport, NY. Employees at this location work in marketing, sales, finance, information technology, customer service, and supply chain management. CooperVision’s President of North America, Jerry Warner, is also based in the new office.
■ Blanchard Contact Lenses announced that Laboratorios Lumilent, located in Mexico City, has signed into an agreement as a manufacturer and distributor of the MSD Mini Scleral Design lens. The MSD lens is known for its distinctive posterior lens surface incorporating reverse geometry with specially designed optical and posterior curves.
■ The GP Lens Institute (GPLI) has announced that Dr. Doug Benoit will be the 2016 recipient of the GPLI Practitioner of the Year Award. Dr. Benoit is currently the senior optometrist with the Eye Center of Concord, a multi-sub-specialty ophthalmology group. He authors and lectures extensively in the area of specialty contact lenses and has held numerous leadership positions in the profession. He will be honored at the Awards Banquet on Oct. 31 as part of the 54th annual CLMA Meeting and Exhibition in Miami.
■ The American Optometric Association (AOA) has issued the next iteration of its Brain Injury Electronic Resource Manual, titled Volume 1B, Traumatic Brain Injury Visual Dysfunction: Optometric Management and Advanced Topics, to help optometrists evaluate their patients who have traumatic brain injury (TBI). Volume 1B provides an overview of optometric management protocols that are important to incorporate into the care of patients with visual sequelae of closed head trauma. The manual is managed by the AOA Vision Rehabilitation Section (VRS) and is exclusive to AOA member doctors at http://aoa.org/optometrists/membership/aoa-sections/vision-rehabilitation-section.
■ Prevent Blindness has launched a new resource, GuideMe, which is designed for those diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. The guide is compatible with a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. The customized guide can be viewed online or downloaded and printed. Visit guideme.preventblindness.org.