IN MEMORIAM: FRANK “UNCLE FRANK” FONTANA, OD
On Oct. 3, our profession—and the contact lens world—lost one of the most iconic and popular optometrists of all time with the passing of Dr. Frank Fontana, 96, who had suffered a massive stroke a few days prior. Affectionately known as “Uncle Frank,” he possessed an ever-present smile that radiated and made everyone around him feel important and special; his “nieces” and “nephews” were too numerous to count.
Dr. Fontana served his country during World War II, including 28 months of overseas duty in the European Theatre of Operation. By chance, he was selected into the Medical Corps, and that initiated his interest in optometry. Upon his discharge, he enrolled (via the G.I. Bill) into the (then) Northern Illinois College of Optometry. Upon graduation in 1950, he established his St. Louis-based private practice, Fontana Eyecare Associates; he only recently retired from patient care. As was true of so many of his optometric contemporaries, soon after he initiated practice, he was taught how to fit contact lenses by Drs. Newton Wesley and George Jessen. He went on to become one of the pioneers—and exceptional promoters—of contact lenses and their benefits.
He co-founded the American Optometric Association (AOA)’s Contact Lens & Cornea Section (CLCS) and has received several honors from the CLCS including its (lifetime) Achievement Award and the Legends Award. He also served on the original board of directors for the Heart of America Contact Lens Society and was a Diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies Section of the American Academy of Optometry. In 2014, he was honored as the first recipient of the Review of Optometry Visionary Award. He was recognized as one of the 50 most influential in optometry by Optometric Management. And, in 2012, he achieved one of the industry’s highest honors when he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame.
His legacy, however, goes well beyond being one of the most renowned and recognizable contact lens specialists in the world. He had an impact on everyone he met. Regardless of your status, race, or gender, you were treated as a cherished member of his immediate family. There is no greater tribute that we can give to another person than the love that we all felt for Uncle Frank. This is perhaps best summed up by his good friend and former associate, P. Douglas Becherer, OD: “Optometry was his world. He was a crusader for the profession and everyone who was involved with it. We will miss him but are grateful for the impact that he had on our lives and our profession.” ■
—Contributed by Ed Bennett, OD, MSEd, clinical features editor for Contact Lens Spectrum.
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BRIAN LAYLAND RESIGNS AS CHAIR AND DIRECTOR OF BHVI
Professor Brian Layland has resigned as chair and director of the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) board. The resignation took effect on Oct. 31. Professor Layland has also resigned as a member of both the BHVI and the BHVI Foundation, with immediate effect. The board has elected Frank Back as the new chair, and Sandra Bailey has assumed all of Prof. Layland’s functions and powers as alternate director with immediate effect.
Ms. Bailey is a board member of the BHVI Foundation. She is the former CEO of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW, a position she held for 25 years. She was formally appointed to the board at a general meeting on Oct. 31. ■
AVT ACQUIRES CONTINENTAL SOFT LENS, INC.
Advanced Vision Technologies (AVT) announced the recent acquisition of Continental Soft Lens, Inc. Kim McQuarrie, owner of Continental Contact Lens, has retired after 37 years to spend time with his family and friends. He will continue to assist AVT in the technology transfer of all specialty designs that Continental Soft Lens has provided for decades. ■
ALCON EXPERIENCE ACADEMY LAUNCHES
Alcon unveiled the Alcon Experience Academy, a program that offers face-to-face training and online educational resources by leading specialists from around the world to provide the best patient care possible. As part of this effort, Alcon launched a new online portal, AlconExperienceAcademy.com .
The website includes a library of more than 500 training videos, with additional content added regularly to an easy-to-navigate home screen. It will also feature webcasts developed by leading eyecare specialists from around the world along with personalized videos and curricula across several disease states and focus areas. The website materials primarily focus on real-world surgical case studies using the latest innovations in eye care. Resources specific to optometry are due to be released early next year. ■
TIM HOMER JOINS AVEDRO
Avedro, Inc. announced that Tim Homer joined the company as vice president of Health Policy & Market Access. Mr. Homer will lead Avedro’s health policy, reimbursement, and government relations activities.
According to the company, his first initiative has been to expand ARCH (Avedro’s Reimbursement Customer Hub) services, including establishing a new field-based team to educate physician offices and payers and to ultimately expand patient access to cross-linking. Mr. Homer has more than 20 years of medical device and health policy experience. Previously, he worked at IRhythm as vice president of Health Policy and Market Access. Prior to IRhythm, Mr. Homer led global reimbursement and market access activities at HeartWare and, additionally, worked in similar capacities at Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson.
In unrelated news, Avedro announced that 50 commercial insurance plans now cover Avedro’s FDA-approved corneal cross-linking procedure, following Cigna’s recent announcement that it is covering the Photrexa drug formulations and the KXL System used in the treatment of progressive keratoconus. Other health plans recently initiating coverage include Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Capital Blue Cross of Central Pennsylvania, Health Alliance Plan of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, and Priority Health of Michigan. ■
X-CEL INTRODUCES NEW CUSTOM SOFT LENS PRICING MODEL AND WARRANTY
X-Cel Specialty Contacts announced a simplified pricing and extended warranty structure for its line of custom soft lenses including all Flexlens and Westcon designs. The new pricing model went into effect Nov. 1 and consists of two prices (Warranted and Non-warranted) in two categories (Standard and Specialized). Eyecare professionals will no longer be required to purchase an initial lens to purchase the multipack.
In addition, X-Cel’s custom soft lens warranty is being extended to unlimited exchanges within 120 days from the original date of invoice, which gives practitioners an additional 30 days to finalize the fit if needed. ■
THERAPEUTIC USE OF DIGIFORM SCLERAL
TruForm Optics announced the therapeutic use of its DigiForm Scleral contact lens through the company’s strategic partnership with Contamac, which received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance for Optimum Extra and Optimum Extreme contact lens materials to treat dry eye conditions.
Optimum Extra and Optimum Extreme lens materials are suitable for therapeutic use in eyes that have ocular surface disease (e.g., ocular graft-versus-host disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, dry eye syndrome, and filamentary keratitis), limbal stem cell deficiency (e.g., Stevens-Johnson syndrome and chemical, radiation, and thermal burns), disorders of the skin (e.g., atopy, ectodermal dysplasia), neurotrophic keratitis (e.g., herpes simplex, herpes zoster, familial dysautonomia), and corneal exposure (e.g., anatomic, paralytic), in which the expanded tear reservoir and protection against an adverse environment afforded by a scleral lens might prove beneficial. ■
IACLE RELEASES NEW DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAM
The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) has fully revised and updated its Distance Learning Program (DLP) in line with the IACLE Contact Lens Course (ICLC). The program is now available to IACLE members via its website, www.iacle.org .
The DLP is designed as a self-study aid for the ICLC to assist educators with their teaching. The program guides members through the course module-by-module, with an assignment of multiple-choice questions after each section submitted to IACLE for marking and feedback. The new DLP consists of 12 assignments in four phases based on the new ICLC modules, each requiring the completion of two to four assignments.
The following FIACLEs in India contributed significant new material: Ajay Shinde, Sankara College of Optometry; Rajeswari Mahadevan, Sankara Nethralaya Medical Research Foundation; Prema Chande, Lotus College of Optometry; Gauri Kunjeer Patel, Nagar School of Optometry; Anitha Arvind, Sankara College of Optometry; and Pancham Kulkarni, Lotus College of Optometry. ■
COOPERVISION OPENS CALL FOR 2019 BEST PRACTICES SUBMISSIONS
CooperVision has announced its fourth annual search for the nation’s Best Practices. The initiative seeks to recognize practices whose visionary, innovative, and unexpected approach to eyecare delivery lead to exceptional patient care and the advancement of the profession.
Any U.S. optometry practice currently fitting contact lenses is eligible to apply. Best Practices candidates are encouraged to submit practice profiles and stories, sharing their insights and experiences in the areas of innovation, industry leadership, and patient experience.
Candidates can submit their stories at eyecarebestpractices.com/applying . Applications will be accepted through Nov. 21, 2018 and will be reviewed by a panel of judges including past honorees, industry experts, and CooperVision leaders. The 2019 Best Practices will be announced early next year. ■
PAUL KARPECKI NAMED LEAD OPTOMETRIC ADVISOR FOR OCUMEDIC, INC.
OcuMedic, Inc., a developer of drug-eluting soft contact lens and clear corneal bandage technology, appointed Paul Karpecki, OD, as lead optometric advisor and member of its Scientific Advisory Board. His role is in the development of its activities, communications, meetings, and strategies relating to research and product development.
Dr. Karpecki is director of Cornea Services at the Kentucky Eye Institute, serves as director for the advanced ocular surface disease clinic at Gaddie Eye Centers in Louisville, KY, and is associate professor at the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry. ■
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO TO OPEN VR LAB
The University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science announced the creation of a virtual reality (VR) training lab that is being funded through an $800,000 investment by FYidoctors. According to the university, the lab provides students with an opportunity to use virtual reality to practice on many cases that range from wellness through to diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetes. The simulation equipment will supplement real-life training, which is limited. The lab will initially include five Eyesi Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscopes (BIO). Phase two of the lab, to be unveiled at a later date, will include the addition of the Eyesi Slit Lamp simulators. ■
ISCLS ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT
The International Society of Contact Lens Specialists (ISCLS) elected optometrist Damon Ezekiel, Ezekiel Eyes, Nedlands Perth, as its president at the ISCLS’s 46th Congress in Washington, DC; this is the first time that an Australian has been awarded leadership of the organization.
Also at the Congress, Damon Ezekiel and British optometrist Caroline Hodd were awarded the Herschel Medal, given “in recognition of outstanding original contributions to contact lens design techniques and of fitting and application in clinical practice, in the education of students and in the advancement of the status of contact lens practice.” ■
- SynergEyes, Inc. announced that the Tangible Hydra-PEG (Tangible Science) coating is now available in Canada on both Duette and UltraHealth hybrid lenses. The lubricous polymer coating was launched in the United States in 2017.
- Visioneering Technologies, Inc. (VTI) announced that it has signed an agreement with Corneal Lens Corporation (CLC), NZ Ltd and its associated company Contact Lens Centre Australia (CLCA), making them authorized distributors of VTI’s NaturalVue (etafilcon A) Brand 1 Day Contact Lenses in New Zealand and Australia. Headquartered in Christchurch, New Zealand, CLC is a manufacturer and distributor of contact lens and vision care products in the Australasia region, South Africa, and Hong Kong. CLCA is a distributor of eyecare products and contact lenses throughout Australia and has a distribution facility in Melbourne. VTI also announced that Medilens Nordic AB has been named an Authorized Distributor for lenses. Headquartered in Helsingborg, Sweden, Medilens Nordic AB is VTI’s first European distributor. Medilens Nordic AB operates in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.
- CooperVision has launched a new website that highlights its sustainability efforts around the globe. Available at coopervision.com/sustainability , the data and stories profile multiple environmental initiatives focused on saving water; conserving energy; reducing, reusing, and recycling resources; and empowering people within the company and the communities in which it operates. The company anticipates updating the site periodically as its sustainability efforts continue.
- Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company Ltd. (SPARC) announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the New Drug Application (NDA) of Xelpros (latanoprost ophthalmic emulsion) 0.005% for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients who have open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Sun Pharma in-licensed Xelpros from SPARC in June 2015. Xelpros is a form of latanoprost that is not formulated with benzalkonium chloride (BAK), a preservative that is commonly used in topical ocular preparations. Xelpros is developed using SPARC’s proprietary Swollen Micelle Microemulsion (SMM) technology. Xelpros will be commercialized in the United States by Sun Ophthalmics, the branded ophthalmic division of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s wholly owned subsidiary.
- RightEye LLC’s vision system has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has cleared the RightEye system for recording, viewing, and analyzing eye movements in support of identifying visual tracking impairment in patients. Using advanced eye-tracking technology and analytics, the RightEye system is a portable, all-in-one solution for vision-derived health screening, tracking eye movements and correlating them to health issues. The system, which includes RightEye EyeQ tests, reports, and training tools, has a number of applications, including functional vision screening, reading assessments, and brain health.
- NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that Jack McGovern has been named Interim CEO, expanding his responsibilities as CFO to include overseeing daily operations. Mark M. Sieczkarek, the company’s previous CEO, remains NovaBay’s chairman and will focus on strategic growth opportunities that complement the company’s continued organic growth.
- Opternative, Inc. announced the ability to route a patient’s online vision test results from its platform to a portal where designated eyecare practitioners can review and dispense prescriptions for their own patients. Instead of Opternative’s network of doctors reviewing all patient results, eyecare providers and eyewear retailers who offer the online vision test can identify the practitioners to review the patients’ results. Designated practitioners are then able to determine the recommended next step for each patient based on the results, a renewed prescription, or a comprehensive eye exam.
- The Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, International (NORA) added six new members to its Advisory Board: Tanya Polec, OD, a neuro-optometric concussion specialist at VQ Learning Sports Rehab in North Central Tucson, AZ; Hannu Laukkanen, OD, MEd, professor emeritus of Optometry and teacher at Pacific University; Jill Schulz, OD, who is in practice at Bright Eyes Vision Clinic in Minnetonka and Otsego, MN; Shirley Ha, OD, director of Membership for Canadian Optometrists in Vision Development & Rehabilitation; Patti Andrich, MA, an occupational therapist at the Vision Development Team in Royalton, OH; and Gina Kim, Lead Therapist/Occupational therapist at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Encino, CA. ■