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NEWS SPECTRUM

COPE EXTENDS RULES MODIFICATION FOR INTERACTIVE ONLINE CE

Due to continued state restrictions and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines related to COVID-19, the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) has made the decision to extend the temporary rules modification to allow COPE administrators and providers to present continuing education (CE) activities through an Interactive Online format and give Live COPE CE credit through Dec. 31, 2020. COPE previously announced a temporary modification to the rules through June 30, 2020.

COPE is modifying its rules to give Live credit for CE courses that are presented in an Interactive Distance Learning format. To be considered interactive, attendees must be able to have immediate interaction with the instructor (i.e., live webinar or videoconference). The activity can only be presented at one specified time, and once it has taken place the learners may no longer participate in that activity. COPE administrators and accredited providers must have a way to confirm the learners’ attendance for every course before issuing certificates of attendance. Post-course tests will not be required for this modified type of activity. ■

AI IMPROVES EYE EXAM ACCURACY

Researchers have developed an online vision test—fueled by artificial intelligence (AI)—that produces much more accurate diagnoses compared to the Snellen chart. If perfected, they predict that the test could also help patients who have eye diseases track their vision at home.

Chris Piech, a computer scientist at Stanford University, wanted to find a way to remove the inherent human error from the Snellen exam while improving the exam’s accuracy. So, he and his colleagues developed an online test. After calibrating their screen, users enter their distance from the screen. The test then displays an “E” in one of four orientations. Based on the answer, the algorithm then uses statistics to make a prediction for a vision score. As the test progresses, the algorithm is able to make a more accurate prediction about the score. The test asks 20 questions per eye and takes several minutes to complete. Results from a recent study of the AI system—known as the Stanford Acuity test (StAT)—appear in the Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. To try StAT, visit https://myeyes.ai . ■

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ABB, PARAGON VISION SCIENCES ANNOUNCE SIXTH ANNUAL OPTOMETRY STUDENT CHALLENGE

ABB Optical Group (ABB) and Paragon Vision Sciences are accepting abstract submissions for the sixth annual Optometry Student Challenge. The Optometry Student Challenge will award travel grants of $1,500 each to three third- or fourth-year optometry students to attend the 2021 Global Specialty Lens Symposium (GSLS), to be held on Jan. 20 to 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, and to present a scientific poster on a topic, of the students’ choice, related to contact lenses.

For more information on the Optometry Student Challenge, including full contest rules and guidelines, visit ABBOptical.com/OptometryStudentChallenge . ■

GMS 2020 GOES VIRTUAL

The 2020 Global Myopia Symposium (GMS) will be held virtually on Sept. 25 and 26. General sessions will cover principles of myopia, myopia treatment options, and building your myopia practice. The general sessions will be moderated by GMS program committee members Jason Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD; Kate Gifford, PhD, BAppSc(Optom) Hons; Lyndon Jones, PhD, DSc, FCOptom, Shalu Pal, OD; and Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD. Participants will also be able to choose two of the six CE breakout sessions being offered. ■

FTC ANNOUNCES FINAL AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENCY’S CONTACT LENS RULE

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the approval of a final rule amending the agency’s Contact Lens Rule, which facilitates shopping for contact lenses by requiring prescribers to automatically provide a copy of a patient’s prescription to the patient and to verify or provide prescriptions to third-party sellers. The Final Rule requires prescribers to request that their patients confirm that they have received their prescription and allows flexibility in the way that the prescription and confirmation are provided.

Issuance of the Final Rule follows an extensive review and consideration of thousands of public comments and materials received by the FTC between 2015 and 2019, including surveys, studies, analyses, and information generated at an FTC workshop devoted to the Rule and the evolving contact lens marketplace. It also incorporates changes made in response to public comments received following a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking published in May 2019.

The Final Rule adds a new definition of the term “provide to the patient a copy,” which will allow the prescriber—with the patient’s verifiable consent—to provide the patient with a digital copy of his or her prescription instead of a paper copy. When seeking a patient’s consent, prescribers must tell the patient the specific method of electronic delivery that they will use and must keep a record of the patient’s consent to that method for three years. The Final Rule will also require prescribers to provide patients or their designated agents with an additional copy of their prescriptions on request within 40 business hours.

The Final Rule includes several new requirements for sellers as well. To address concerns about sellers verifying prescriptions by leaving incomplete or incomprehensible automated telephone messages with prescribers, sellers who use automated telephone messages for verification must record the entire call and preserve the complete recording; start the call by identifying it as a prescription verification request made in accordance with the Contact Lens Rule; deliver the verification message in a slow and deliberate manner and at a volume that the prescriber can understand; and make the message repeatable at the prescriber’s option.

The Final Rule also includes modifications designed to reduce illegal prescription alterations by sellers. Under the Final Rule, sellers must make prominently available a way for consumers to present their prescriptions and must clearly disclose that method. The method of presentation and related disclosure must be provided before requesting the prescriber’s contact information to verify the prescription.

The Contact Lens Rule already prohibits prescription alteration, but the Final Rule defines “alteration” to include sellers providing, as part of a verification request, a brand or manufacturer other than that prescribed to the consumer. There are exceptions, however, for when the seller provides, as part of the verification request, the manufacturer or brand named by the consumer in response to the seller’s request for the manufacturer or brand listed on the prescription. These changes should reduce the incidence of sellers selling consumers lenses other than those that were prescribed. The Final Rule also clarifies that the only permissible substitution involves private label lenses; private label and brand name lenses can be substituted for each other when they are identical lenses made by the same manufacturer.

The Rule changes go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register notice. Full details of the Final Rule can be found at www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/federal_register_notices/2020/06/r511995_contact_lens_rule_-_2020.pdf . ■

SYMPOSIUM SPOTLIGHT: GSLS PAPER AND POSTER ABSTRACTS

The Program Committee of the Global Specialty Lens Symposium (GSLS), to be held Jan. 20 to 23, 2021, invites the submission of abstracts for the presentation of Free Papers and Posters. The committee seeks topics including new and innovative concepts, clinical cases, and research on all aspects of contact lenses in addition to related topics such as corneal and ocular surface disease, diagnosis and treatment approaches, and practice management. Abstract submissions will be accepted at https://na.eventscloud.com/website/10665/posters-free-papers through Oct. 1, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EST. ■

CDC’S 7TH CONTACT LENS HEALTH WEEK

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be holding its seventh annual Contact Lens Health Week from Aug. 17 to 21. To support practitioners’ efforts to promote contact lens health week, the CDC is offering a free toolkit that contains promotional items intended to be customized to best meet eyecare practitioners’ needs for their practices and the general eyecare community. The materials relay information about improving communication about healthy lens hygiene habits between eyecare providers and patients; the risks associated with improper contact lens use; and the importance of regular visits to an eyecare provider. Materials will be available at www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/contact-lenshealth-week.html . ■

INDUSTRY BRIEFS

  • BostonSight announced that President and CEO Sara Yost, MBA, has been appointed to the board of directors of the GP Lens Institute (GPLI). Ms. Yost joined the BostonSight staff in July 2002, holding several positions in administration, operations, and finance, including three years as CFO managing the financial well-being of BostonSight.
  • Essilor Custom Contact Lens Specialists is continuing its free live webinar series “Focus on Education,” hosted by Dr. Howard Purcell, President and CEO of New England College of Optometry, and sponsored by Contamac. The next webinar, “How to navigate through Covid-19 with a specialty contact lens practice” will take place Aug. 13, 8:00 p.m. EST. This group panelist discussion webinar with Dr. Anita Gulmiri, Dr. Katie Greiner, and Dr. Melanie Frogozo will cover topics such as utilizing telemedicine for contact lens cases during the lockdown period, changes made to working with medically necessary contact lens patients during the pandemic, navigating working with children wearing contact lenses to adults wearing scleral lenses, and much more. Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/2215949296324/WN_HoIGsCmeR-idp7INWrZ1Jg .
  • Johnson & Johnson Vision unveiled the first-ever extension of the Acuvue brand name beyond contact lenses with the launch in Canada of its Acuvue RevitaLens Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Solution, which is now available at major retailers nationwide.
  • Novartis has decided to withdraw its marketing application seeking approval of dry eye drug Xiidra (lifitegrast) in Europe. The decision comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that the drug’s benefits did not outweigh its risks. Novartis pulled the application on June 18 after the EMA considered that the effectiveness of Xiidra was not demonstrated across different symptoms of dry eye disease.
  • Valley Contax created a professional services team to support the company’s rapidly expanding network of eyecare professionals. The new team of three veteran Valley Contax employees were all promoted to a professional services manager position. Jennifer Conklin, with the company since 1999, has assumed the responsibilities of the education coordinator and marketing project manager. In her new role, she will help coordinate education and marketing efforts with vendor partners and practitioners. Kelsey Roberts, a Valley Contax employee since 2007, will serve as the head of clinical resources, consultation, and training. In this role, she will continue to lead and guide the consulting team while overseeing and providing training and development for practices and their staff. CharliRae Edmunds, who has been on staff since 2014, will be overseeing product and partner development. In this new role, she will help introduce new products to the company’s offerings and a sales capacity to grow clinical partners.
  • CooperVision has named Simon Seshadri as senior vice president, Global Marketing, effective immediately. He is responsible for executive leadership and management for the company’s Global Marketing organization, including driving product pipeline innovation and advancing standards for inbound and outbound marketing functions. Mr. Seshadri was most recently vice president of Marketing, North America. He succeeds Guy Whittaker, who earlier this year was promoted to senior vice president, Global Strategy and Lifecycle Management.
  • Sight Sciences, Inc. announced two hires: Sam Park, joining as COO, and Jeremy Hayden, who joins as general counsel and chief compliance officer. Mr. Park will be responsible for scaling the company’s manufacturing, operations, and research and development capabilities to support the company’s growth initiatives. Mr. Hayden has more than 20 years of experience providing legal counsel to life science businesses, including serving as the in-house counsel for several leading healthcare companies.
  • Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Plano Pte. Ltd. announced a strategic alliance to tackle the global burden of myopia. Under this strategic alliance, Plano has secured an investment from Santen. Plano is an eye health tech company launched in 2017, founded by Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani. It is the first spin-off from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) - Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator Programme. Plano users can anticipate a new app interface for both parents and children, improved product functionality, and an artificial intelligence-driven calculator for the development, progression, and stabilization of myopia in children and teenagers.
  • SwissLens is set to take over the Lunelle product portfolio from CooperVision as of Nov. 1. The agreement transfers all trademark rights to SwissLens. The company has been producing Lunelle Toric RXi contact lenses for 20 years. Under this agreement, it will also manufacture and distribute, internationally, Lunelle Spheric (ES 70 UV), Lunelle Toric, Lunelle Toric RXi, Lunelle multifocal (Variations 70+ UV), Lunelle Colors, and Lunelle Sun.

COVID-19 BRIEFS

  • CooperVision has launched a virtual exhibit booth to provide would-be attendees with a similar experience from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The virtual booth, available at www.CooperVisionBooth.com , features a 3D rendering of CooperVision’s actual exhibit as well as multimedia materials that showcase the latest news and product information from the company. CooperVision plans to update the virtual exhibit booth with new information and materials as they are developed.
    As part of its ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, CooperVision has also begun producing hand sanitizer at its manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico. A portion of the gel is used to support internal requirements and employee hygiene needs, ensuring consistent supply and freeing commercial stocks for distribution elsewhere. Additional volumes are being donated to community organizations and to customers.
  • And, in other news, CooperVision has now extended the deadline of its Essential Hospital Workers Complimentary Contact Lens Program to Aug. 31, 2020. The program is designed for eyecare professionals who would like to offer complimentary lenses to their patients who are essential hospital workers in their communities, if they choose to do so.
  • As part of ongoing initiatives to help support eye care in the wake of COVID-19, Johnson & Johnson Vision (J&J Vision) announced donations to Optometry Cares—The American Optometric Association (AOA) Foundation and to the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF). As an AOA Recovery Partner, J&J Vision will make a donation to Optometry Cares, which will provide financial support to practitioners uniquely impacted by COVID-19 and will help ensure that eye care remains available in the wake of COVID-19. J&J Vision is also making a donation to the AAOF to support its efforts in procuring and distributing masks to practitioners and schools of optometry in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
  • The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions, organizers of Vision Expo, announced the decision to cancel Vision Expo West 2020, which had been scheduled to take place in Las Vegas from Sept. 23 to 26. The decision was made to cancel Vision Expo West 2020 as a result of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s announcement on June 26 sharing that Nevada “will remain in Phase 2 of reopening plans through the end of July due to current trends of the coronavirus infection.” Therefore, Vision Expo is launching a robust 365-digital platform dedicated to bringing the optical community together and allowing business to continue and flourish. The platform will include CE education and will allow for direct appointment setting, virtual product showcases, service and product sourcing, and much more.
  • The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC), a coalition of companies and healthcare associations committed to raising public awareness of childhood myopia, is working with influential online gamers and with parents to raise awareness about myopia in children by encouraging them to discuss the importance of getting away from screens and playing outside. GMAC found that since the COVID-19 outbreak, 44% of parents surveyed say that their children are spending four or more hours per day on electronic devices, watching television, using handheld devices, and even completing schoolwork remotely. Given that many of these children are also gaming, the coalition is bringing its message to them directly via online video game streams (such as Ninja and Mr. Bee) and to parents who are encouraged to re-create their children’s favorite digital games (including April Moore, Mikayla, Tiff & Cass Realchan, and Maya Vorderstrasse). The program will provide new content through Oct. 1, 2020. To follow along with the campaign, search #GameOverMyopia on social media.
  • Essilor has launched Anti-Fog Solutions to aid eye-care practitioners in answering the needs of consumers, specifically, fogging on eyewear when wearing a mask. The product line consists of two solutions: Anti-Fog AR and Optifog. Practitioners may reach out to their Essilor account executives for more information.
  • EyeBridge Consulting Associates and ImageMark Business Services have partnered to provide COVID-19 signage, among other related resources, specifically designed for eyecare practices. ImageMark has created banners for sharing office protocols, floor stickers for social distancing, handwashing reminders for restrooms, face masks and shields, hand sanitizer, and other personal protective equipment (some of which can be branded), and they have a disinfectant that is U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved for killing the COVID-19 virus. A percentage of sales from the products will be donated to the American Optometric Association’s Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief. Interested eyecare businesses should visit www.safe-distance-products.com to see what’s available and to create an online account.