VERILY STOPS WORKING ON GLUCOSE-MONITORING CONTACT LENS
Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences arm, has paused work on its “smart lens” program, which was aiming to put tiny sensors on contact lenses to measure blood sugar levels in tears.
Verily had originally launched the program in 2014, while it was still known as Google Life Sciences. The company partnered with Alcon on the project. However, there hasn’t been much news on the contact lens since then.
Verily said that it plans to continue with its other projects in the diabetes space through its other life sciences partners. In addition, it has started working on a “smart” contact lens for age-related farsightedness as well as one for improving sight after a cataract surgery. ■
SECOND GLOBAL MYOPIA AWARENESS COALITION MEETING
Building on the success of the initial meeting in June, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) met at the American Academy of Optometry annual meeting and approved a governance structure and funding mechanism to formally launch its efforts through the creation of a coalition, the appointment of a board, and providing funding to develop and deploy public-facing messaging. More than 20 industry leaders attended this meeting, aligning to focus their efforts collectively on public education about the growing myopia epidemic. The World Council of Optometry (WCO) will serve as a host for the GMAC to support its global efforts.
Matt Oerding, CEO and co-founder of Treehouse Eyes, led a session sharing how public messaging in a coordinated fashion has been effective in other categories. Kovin Naidoo, OD, PhD, senior vice president of Inclusive Business, Philanthropy and Social Impact at Essilor, proposed a governance structure and mission for the GMAC, which was endorsed by the group. And, documentary filmmaker Jane Weiner gave the group an update on the progress of her important film, “Losing Sight: Inside the Myopia Epidemic.” The meeting concluded successfully with commitments made from several companies to contribute financially to the GMAC and to form the board to start execution work. ■
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B+L RECEIVES 510(K) CLEARANCE FROM FDA FOR ULTRA MULTIFOCAL FOR ASTIGMATISM LENSES
Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for B+L Ultra Multifocal for Astigmatism contact lenses, a multifocal toric lens that is available as a standard offering in the eyecare professionals’ fit set. These contact lenses are expected to be available by mid-2019.
In unrelated news, B+L and Modulight, Inc. have entered into an exclusive agreement to collaborate and develop a new laser specifically designed for use with B+L’s Visudyne (verteporfin for injection) photodynamic therapy (PDT). Visudyne is an injectable photosensitizer drug that is indicated for the treatment of patients who have predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularization due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), pathologic myopia, or presumed ocular histoplasmosis. It is activated through use of a photodynamic laser via direct laser excitation. ■
OPTERNATIVE CHANGES NAME
Opternative announced that it has changed its name to Visibly. According to the company, the new name embraces the solutions that it offers to the eyecare industry and represents the broad scope of whom it can serve. ■
ALCON LAUNCHES NEW MEDICAL AFFAIRS WEBSITE IN NORTH AMERICA
Alcon launched a new website, AlconScience.com , for U.S.- and Canada-based eyecare professionals and academic institutions. The new medical affairs website consolidates information about Alcon’s scientific, academic, and related activities into one portal. Visitors can download clinically focused publications, submit grant applications for Investigator-Initiated Trials (IITs), apply for independent medical education support, and apply for educational equipment donations, among other activities. ■
VTI APPOINTS DR. PEG ACHENBACH AS VICE PRESIDENT, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AND CLINICAL SCIENCE
Visioneering Technologies Inc. (VTI) has named Peg Achenbach, OD, as vice president, Professional Services and Clinical Science. In her new position, Dr. Achenbach will be responsible for increasing awareness of VTI’s portfolio of products and developing programs that help VTI better support independent eyecare professionals (ECPs) to help them improve their businesses and clinical practices.
Her professional career includes 16 years of private practice specializing in contact lenses and low vision. Additionally, she has been involved in research and drug development in oncology, HIV, dermatology, and nutritional supplements as a co-founder of a biotech company. She is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the British Contact Lens Association, International Association of Contact Lens Educators, the American Optometric Association, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. ■
CLMA ELECTS OFFICERS AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR 2019
The Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) membership has elected its Board of Directors officers and members to begin a one-year term of office in Jan. 2019. The board officers are President – Kurtis Brown, Menicon America, Inc.; Vice President – Josh Adams, Valley Contax, Inc.; and Secretary Treasurer – Derrell James, X-Cel Specialty Contacts, Inc. Board members include Daniel Bell, Acuity Polymers, Inc.; Michael Fischer, Misupco, Inc.; John Hibbs, Contamac US, Inc.; Troy Miller, AccuLens, Inc.; Chris Pantle, DAC International, Inc.; Keith Parker, Advanced Vision Technologies, Inc.; Dr. Michael Ross, Euclid Systems Corp.; and Daren Nygren, Custom Craft Lens Service of Nevada, Inc. (Immediate Past President).
The installation of the 2019 CLMA Board of Directors will take place during the Rising Stars Reception being held Jan. 26, 2019 during the Global Specialty Lens Symposium in Las Vegas. ■
ACCULENS ANNOUNCES NEW TRAINING CENTER
In response to growing demand for scleral lens training and education, AccuLens announced the opening of a brand new, in-house training facility in its manufacturing location in Denver. The new 1,200-square-foot addition and state-of-the-art facility will host mini Scleral Lens Academies in a 12-person, classroom-style conference room as well as offer hands-on instruction in a newly appointed exam lane for reviewing actual cornea-challenged patients. The training format will be modeled after the Scleral Lens Academies hosted nationwide, which include formal lectures and patient-driven, hands-on experience. For more information or to register, visit www.acculens.com/education.html . ■
COOPERVISION BREAKS RECORD WITH $262,000 DONATION FOR 2018 WORLD SIGHT DAY CHALLENGE
CooperVision has donated $262,000 to Optometry Giving Sight in support of the organization's 2018 World Sight Day Challenge.
More than 40 CooperVision sites and teams created multiple activities to engage employees, drive awareness, and generate donations. These efforts increased year-over-year giving by more than 35% and were supported by a matching commitment from the company. ■
PADMAJA SANKARIDURG NAMED HEAD OF GLOBAL MYOPIA CENTRE
Leading international myopia researcher Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg has been appointed head of the Global Myopia Centre by the Brien Holden Vision Institute. The platform hosts several online tools for myopia management, information and resources such as global prevalence data, and the Myopia Education Program.
Currently, she is head of the Myopia Program at Brien Holden Vision Institute. She was previously leader of the Vision CRC Myopia Program, a 12-year global collaboration to develop optical products to manage myopia involving several international partners. ■
GPLI UPDATES ITS WEBSITE
The GP Lens Institute (GPLI) gave its GPLI.info website a new and improved appearance. With the redesigned website, users will have the ability to easily locate primary resources with one click from the home page. In addition, they will be able to access resources in different categories, including education by lens type, a scleral lens troubleshooting FAQ, coding and billing modules, webinars, the GPLI Toric and Spherical Lens Calculator, and much more. ■
FTC ORDERS 1-800 CONTACTS TO END SEARCH RESTRICTION DEALS
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has held that 1-800 Contacts unlawfully entered into a web of anticompetitive agreements with rival online contact lens sellers.
A Commission Opinion, authored by Chairman Joseph J. Simons, ruled that the agreements between 1-800 Contacts and 14 online sellers of contact lenses constitute unfair methods of competition, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The agreements prevent online contact lens retailers from bidding for search engine result ads that would inform consumers that identical products are available at lower prices. The opinion held that the agreements harm competition in bidding for search engine key words, artificially reducing the prices that 1-800 Contacts pays as well as the quality of search engine results delivered to consumers. Although the opinion directly addresses restraints to search engine advertising for contact lenses, it carries broader implications for preserving competition through online advertising.
The commission’s order requires 1-800 Contacts to cease and desist from enforcing the unlawful provisions in its existing agreements and from entering into similar agreements in the future.
The Opinion stems from an August 2016 administrative complaint and upholds Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell’s October 2017 Initial Decision, which found that the agreements were unfair methods of competition. 1-800 Contacts may file a petition for review of the ruling with a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within 60 days after service of the Final Order. ■
FDA CLEARS DD SIHY LENS COATED WITH MODIFIED TANGIBLE HYDRA-PEG
Tangible Science, LLC announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the first daily disposable silicone hydrogel (SiHy) contact lens coated with a modified formula of Tangible Hydra-PEG. Tangible Hydra-PEG is a coating applied to custom contact lenses to improve lens wettability and deposit resistance, and the new lens utilizes a variation designed to enhance the surface of daily wear lenses.
The newly approved contact lens will initially be available in a single-vision, aberration-control design. Future products utilizing the modified Tangible coating will include daily disposable toric and center-distance aspheric designs. ■
A FEW MINUTES OF YOUR TIME PLEASE
There has been a growing academic interest in myopia management over the past few years, but there is little information on what is actually happening in clinical practice. A partnership between Contact Lens Spectrum and various international organizations is conducting a follow-up global survey to one conducted in 2015 on myopia management. The 2018 survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Myopia2018en . The information gathered will allow us to report back what is happening across the globe as well as what your peers are thinking/doing. ■
- To address the topic of myopia, The Myopia Meeting will be held on Feb. 3 in National Harbor, MD. Speakers during the five-hour CE program include Earl L. Smith III, OD, PhD; Patrick Caroline; Thomas Aller, OD; Erin D. Stahl, MD; and Gary Gerber, OD. COPE approval is pending for all courses. Sponsors include Essilor of America Inc., Euclid Systems Corp., Oculus, Treehouse Eyes, and Visioneering Technologies, Inc. For details or to register, visit http://regonline.com/THEmyopiameeting .
- Brian Banks, founder and president of Natural Ophthalmics, passed away peacefully on Dec. 2, 2018 after a brief but serious illness. He is survived by two children and a diverse group of family and friends whose lives Brian touched and who miss him greatly. Mr. Banks started his career in industrial lighting sales, which brought him into contact with many businesses, including the U.S. sales office of a major Swiss homeopathic producer. During that time, he was also a volunteer firefighter. After a house-fire training session in which his eyes became red and inflamed, he reached out to the homeopathic company to see whether he could try its eye drops. Not only did the eye drops help his situation, but because of his enthusiasm, the company offered him a job as a U.S. sales representative. He started Natural Ophthalmics shortly after leaving that company in 2000, with the mission of providing a high-quality line of eye drops and eye-health supplements to eyecare professionals that could be sold in-office.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a product-specific J code, J2787, for Avedro, Inc.’s Photrexa Viscous (riboflavin 5’-phosphate in 20% dextran ophthalmic solution) and Photrexa (riboflavin 5’-phosphate ophthalmic solution). These formulations are the only drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in corneal collagen cross-linking for the treatment of progressive keratoconus and corneal ectasia following refractive surgery. J2787 became effective on Jan. 1, 2019, under the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System.
- Eaglet Eye announced that Kemberly Grizzaffi, NCLE, has joined the team. Ms. Grizzaffi’s primary responsibility will be to coordinate and execute installation, training, and support for eyecare practitioners who have acquired an Eye Surface Profiler. She brings significant specialty lens experience to Eaglet Eye, having more than 25 years in practice with 10 years fitting and managing specialty contact lenses. Ms. Grizzaffi has spent the last three years at SynergEyes concentrating on sales and account management.
- Visioneering Technologies Inc. (VTI) has named Brian D. Lane, CPA, as its CFO. Mr. Lane’s responsibilities will include investor relations, strategic planning, and financial reporting as well as legal oversight and regulatory compliance. Most recently, he served as CFO with OnePath. Previously, he was controller of PRGX and held senior financial positions at several other companies in the financial services, franchise, and manufacturing industries.
- The American Academy of Optometry announced Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, as the incoming president. She is the first Canadian woman to serve as president. Dr. Caffery has worked in a group practice since 1977. She is also a member of the University Health Network Multidisciplinary Sjögren’s Syndrome Clinic and the Kensington Vision and Research Centre’s Therapeutic Contact Lens Clinic. She is a Diplomate of the Academy’s Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses & Refractive Technologies.
- Alcon’s head of professional affairs, Jonathon Bench, has been nominated as president elect of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA). He has been a BCLA member for 12 years, serving on its committee for five years and joining its executive council last year. Mr. Bench worked at a multiple and owned a franchise practice before joining Alcon in 2013.
- Prevent Blindness has established the Center for Vision and Population Health at Prevent Blindness (CVPH), a national coordinating body for effective practices, state-level technical assistance, and programmatic interventions. The CVPH will work through diverse professional stakeholders and patient advocates to drive improvements in policy, program, and a coordinated national approach to eye health.
- Alcon appointed Roger Lopez as region president Alcon Japan. Lopez succeeds Jim Murphy, who is retiring. Lopez will report to Ian Bell, president international, and join the Alcon executive leadership team (ELT). Lopez has served for the past two years as area vice president of emerging markets with EMEA. ■