CORE LAUNCHES COVIDEYEFACTS.ORG WEBSITE
The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo has launched a new website, COVIDEyeFacts.org , which is focused on providing evidence-based guidance regarding COVID-19 and contact lenses, with more resources for eyecare professionals and wearers. The site now offers translated versions of its Contact Lens Wear and Coronavirus infographic, which presents the five facts that wearers need to know during the pandemic. High-resolution PDF files suitable for download, social media, and printing are available in 17 languages, with additional languages pending; Euromcontact helped coordinate.
It also has an animated 60-second white board video that explains five facts for contact lens and spectacles wearers, based on the newly published peer-reviewed paper, in an engaging way. The site has individual videos with each author of “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Important Considerations for Contact Lens Practitioners,” published in May in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, as well as an extended, moderated “Behind the Science” video discussion with all five paper authors about their work. ■
TIMELINE ADJUSTED FOR TUSCULUM’S NISWONGER COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRY
Onset of the coronavirus and uncertainty of its end have altered plans and schedules in education, business, government, and many aspects of people’s personal lives, and this environment is leading Tusculum University in Tennessee to temporarily modify one of its planned programs. The university is pausing its efforts to launch the Niswonger College of Optometry due to COVID-19-driven changes in the optometry delivery care system and in the likely timetable for the accrediting body that is reviewing Tusculum’s plans.
The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) in 2019 designated the College of Optometry as a Stage 2 applicant, which is not a pre-accreditation or accreditation status but rather a step toward potential accreditation. The next step in the process was a site visit from the ACOE. Circumstances do not allow for Tusculum to schedule the site visit for summer 2020 as planned. Tusculum cannot begin recruiting students until the site visit is complete and the ACOE has granted preliminary approval of accreditation.
In addition, eyecare practices across the nation have scaled back on patient visits, except for urgent cases. As part of the pre-accreditation process for the College of Optometry, Tusculum will need to demonstrate that it has established a patient base and achieved a certain number of contact visits with its faculty. Tusculum would have had difficulty meeting required patient numbers in the current pandemic environment. Because of these circumstances, Tusculum is furloughing faculty and administrators who are working solely in the optometry program until the program can be re-evaluated. ■
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NECO TO LAUNCH LIVE ONLINE TV BROADCAST, INSIDEVISION
New England College of Optometry (NECO) and Sector Media Group are launching a new online YouTube series, “InsideVision”; the inaugural episode of the online broadcast aired on April 15. InsideVision is a live streaming talk show aimed at eyecare professionals and the vision care community worldwide. The program will be hosted by NECO president and CEO, Howard Purcell, OD, along with Erik Liljegren, co-founder and chief content officer at Sector Media Group, a point-of-care communications company serving the eyecare industry. InsideVision will air on a dedicated YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/channel/UCBZCFgRIMG90jd85Y32aQzA ). Episodes will be recorded and will remain online for replay at any time. ■
IN MEMORIAM: GORDON ISRAEL HARRIS, OD
Dr. Gordon Israel Harris died on April 13. After earning his optometry degree from Columbia University, Dr. Harris practiced on Long Island, NY for his entire career, beginning with adding optometric services to the store run by his father and optician Seymour Harris. Within the profession of optometry, he distinguished himself as a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry and as a Diplomate in its Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies Section. For nearly his entire career, he was involved in optometric research and education, beginning by being part of the research team at the Optometric Center of New York headed by Dr. William Ludlam.
He built and calibrated many of the unique instruments developed for the longitudinal myopia research project, which spanned the 1960s and early 1970s. He moved onto the faculty of the State University of New York, State College of Optometry, as it was founded in the early 1970s, and taught in the labs and worked in the clinic, while also serving the research work by continuing to develop instruments to measure different aspects of the eye and visual system.
Outside of work, he was involved for 65 years in Kiwanis. His other pursuits included singing in the Huntington Men’s Chorus, bowling, the Model A Ford Club, and photography.
He is survived by his two sons, Paul Alan Harris and Louis David Harris, and by his companion, Barbara Macchiaroli. ■
NO-FEE CE OPPORTUNITIES
Contact Lens Spectrum offers a variety of no-fee continuing education courses to keep eyecare professionals up to date on the latest in contact lens research and technology. The most recent course, “Key Considerations for Contact Lens Practitioners During the Coronavirus Pandemic,” is in this issue and is available for Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) credit. In addition, “Taking the Mystery Out of Scleral Lenses: Patient Selection, Instrumentation, Fitting Techniques, and Follow-Up Evaluation” and “When and How to Use Special Scleral Lens Design Options,” are available for National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) and COPE credit. All CE courses can be found at clspectrumce.com . Contact Lens Spectrum will be releasing two additional courses in July and October 2020. ■
SYMPOSIUM SPOTLIGHT: GSLS ENCORE
Were you unable to attend the Global Specialty Lens Symposium (GSLS) live in 2020? Or, perhaps you were able to join us in Las Vegas but missed out on attending a few breakout sessions. It’s OK, we have you covered. Be on the lookout for more information about several GSLS breakout sessions that will be coming back for encore presentations online soon! ■
COOPERVISION NAMES FIRST BEST PRACTICES STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
Following the announcement of its 2020 Best Practices honorees in April, CooperVision has revealed the recipients of its new Best Practices Scholarship. Recipients were third-year optometry students who were chosen based on their academic standing at a U.S. optometry school; their demonstration of leadership and participation in school or community activities; honors; and additional optometry-related experience. The Best Practices Scholarship provides them with the opportunity to attend the 2020 Best Practices Summit, where they will listen to and collaborate with eyecare professionals from this year’s honored practices. The inaugural Best Practices Scholarship recipients are Matthew Barnes, New England College of Optometry; Christina Cherny, SUNY College of Optometry; and Matthew Howell, Chicago College of Optometry. ■
- Acuity Polymers announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued U.S. Patent No. 10,633,472 relating to an ultra-high-Dk GP material for use in contact lenses. Acuity Polymers’ patent is issued for a method utilizing specialized temperature-pressure conditions sufficient to provide an ultra-high-permeability material.
- Mojo Vision has raised more than $51 million in a Series B-1 investment round for the development of its smart contact lens, Mojo Lens, which is currently in the research and development phase and is not available for sale anywhere in the world. Mojo also announced that Greg Papadopoulos, PhD, venture partner at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), will join its board of directors. Prior to NEA, Dr. Papadopoulos was executive vice president and chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems.
- Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) has launched its first staff myopia management training course through its Myopia Education Program. On April 24, BHVI opened 300 spaces in its Managing Myopia for Practice Staff course at no cost. The course draws on knowledge from world-leading myopia specialists and translates the expertise to easy-to-use, time- and cost-efficient, self-paced learning programs. The program is available through BHVI’s Myopia Education Program portal.
- I-Med Pharma Inc. announced Health Canada approval for the E>Eye Laser, which is now available to Canadian eyecare professionals. I-Med Pharma has exclusive Canadian distribution rights for the product. E>Eye, designed and manufactured in France by E-Swin, is a CE-certified medical device using patented intense regulated pulsed light (IRPL) technology developed specifically for the treatment of dry eye disease caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.
- Johnson & Johnson Vision has appointed Rajesh K. Rajpal, MD, as chief medical officer and global head of Clinical and Medical Affairs. In this role, Dr. Rajpal will lead the integration of rapidly evolving medical and clinical insights into new product development to address unmet needs of patients and eyecare professionals around the world. He will also oversee clinical trials and the generation of surgical and vision care evidence and will serve as the critical liaison to government agencies and to the academic, scientific, and industry communities. Dr. Rajpal joins Johnson & Johnson Vision from Avedro, where he served as chief medical officer.
- SECO University launched SECO Live continuing education (CE) Webinars approved by the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) for live CE. SECO Live launched with nine for-credit courses (13 hours of CE), as COPE has approved live CE online through June 30, 2020. In addition, SECO Live held two practice management “how-to” sessions on teleoptometry and setting up an online e-store. For more information about SECO Live CE or to register for the remaining courses, visit secouniversity.com/webinar-series .
- Leo Lens Pharma (formerly dba as Leo Lens Technology Co., Inc.) appointed Dan Myers as CEO. Prior to joining Leo Lens, Mr. Myers was the co-founder and CEO of Alimera Sciences, where he continues to serve as chairman of the board of directors. Before founding Alimera, he was a founding employee of Novartis Ophthalmics (formerly Ciba Vision Ophthalmics) and served as its president from 1997 to 2003.
- TearClear appointed Robert J. Dempsey as CEO. Mr. Dempsey, who has more than two decades of experience in the ophthalmic pharmaceutical industry, is expected to accelerate TearClear’s business and commercial strategy, including advancing the robust pipeline and leading the company’s efforts in bringing innovative products to market. Previously, he served as the Global Head of Ophthalmology at Shire, which was acquired by Takeda.
- Alcon has named Lisa Praeger as its new vice president of U.S. vision care sales. She succeeds Ben Nobles, who has retired after 28 years at Alcon. Ms. Praeger joined Alcon in 1989 as a vision care sales representative in San Francisco. She has held sales and leadership positions in pharma, vision care, surgical, and most recently, U.S. commercial operations.
- Topcon Singapore Medical Pte. Ltd. (TSM) has announced that Leo Hiroshi Nagatake, who is currently leading Topcon Healthcare Solutions Asia Pacific (THSAP), has been appointed as TSM’s new managing director. Mr. Nagatake succeeds Calvin Lee, the former managing director of TSM, who retired at the end of March 2020.
- Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. announced the introduction of eyedrop bottles made from environmentally friendly biomass plastic materials; biomass plastic refers to plastics produced through chemical or biological synthesis from renewable biomass materials. The use of these sustainable resources plays a role in preventing the exhaustion of fossil fuels, according to the company.
- Kala Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has resubmitted its New Drug Application (NDA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Eysuvis (loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension) 0.25%, its product candidate for the short-term treatment of the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. Kala believes that this application will be considered a Class 2 resubmission, with a targeted six-month review timeline under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA). Kala is preparing for a potential U.S. approval and launch by the end of 2020.
- CXL Ophthalmics appointed Jonathan H. Talamo, MD, to its Board of Managers. Dr. Talamo was most recently chief medical officer and worldwide vice president of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Johnson & Johnson Vision (J&J Vision). While at J&J Vision, he helped lead the integration of Abbott Medical Optics.
- The American Optometric Association (AOA) has canceled the in-person portion of Optometry’s Meeting 2020. Optometry’s Meeting, the annual meeting of both the AOA and American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), was originally scheduled for June 24 to 28 in National Harbor, Maryland/Washington, DC. The AOA will now be hosting the AOA 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast on June 24 through 27. The event will feature four days of interactive continuing education and professional development. The AOA will offer more than 60 continuing education (CE) and professional development courses specifically designed for doctors of optometry, paraoptometric staff, and students. Attendees will be able to earn up to 26 hours of CE credits. Additionally, many of the courses will be offered in the evening to accomodate school and work schedules. The full event course schedule will be available soon. Preregister at www.aoa.org/virtuallearninglivecast .
- NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced an agreement with Shenzhen Microprofit Biotech Co., Ltd. to become the exclusive U.S. distributor of the fluorecare SARS-CoV-2 IgG & IgM Antibody Combined (colloidal gold chromatographic immunoassay) Test Kit, a rapid, finger prick test to determine the presence of COVID-19 or a potential indication of antibody immunity to COVID-19. The fluorecare test kit has been ISO 13485 and CE Mark certified. NovaBay will submit the fluorecare test kit to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization. The company will also submit the fluorecare test kit for permanent FDA 510(k) clearance so that the test kit can continue to be used once the state of emergency has been declared over by the Federal Government.
- Visibly announced that it will provide eyecare practitioners (ECPs) free access to its virtual vision test technology to ensure that patients can meet their eye health needs during this unprecedented time. Eyecare professionals can access this technology for free by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CooperVision is providing free shipping for direct-to-patient contact lens delivery of any two boxes or more via FedEx 2-Day Air or USPS on the patients’ OD’s behalf; providing reimbursement for Authorized Distributors to participate in the direct-to-patient delivery program; honoring patient rebates for an early annual supply purchase or to extend prescriptions on a case-by-case basis; and extending payment terms on current pending invoices.
- Clerio Vision announced a promotional pricing program to assist independent eyecare practitioners who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. The company will offer all of its Extreme H2O six-pack products to these professionals for $5 per box. Orders will be shipped directly to patients at no cost. The program begins immediately after sign-up and is running through July 2020. This discount allows practitioners to capture significantly more margin on sales of new fits, according to the company. Clerio has also begun selling N95 masks and hand sanitizer at its own cost to help Extreme H2O customers to affordably get back up and running.
- X-Cel Specialty Contacts has launched the Bounce Back program, which includes patient recall support, simplified ordering with free add-ons, extended warranties to 120 days, reduced prices on fitting sets and spare lenses, shipping discounts through USPS First Class mail, and direct shipments to patients as well as ongoing educational events.
- Given the current global circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the physical meeting of The Summit in Rome, a specialty lens conference designed for optometrists, ophthalmologists, and contact lens practitioners that had been scheduled for Sept. 4 to 6, 2020, has been cancelled. Instead, the Summit 2020 will be providing a series of free one-hour meetings on Zoom to maintain momentum for a future conference in Rome. The program and additional information can be found at www.thesummit-ssc.com/program-registration .
- Walman has assembled a set of checklists and best practice ideas to spur discussion on what will work best in your practice and in your circumstances, keeping in mind health and safety in the time of COVID-19. The intent is to provide this structure and collection of ideas for a virtual meeting with a Walman account manager to walk through what will work best for each individual practice and also to discuss how Walman can help. In addition, Ado Practice Solutions, a Walman division, has introduced a new marketing program, Rebound powered by Done4You Marketing. This new program was designed to extend a helping hand to independent eyecare providers as they try to counter the effects of COVID-19 and implement a successful grand reopening plan. According to Ado, its team will be creating and implementing strategies that will boost patient engagement, increase revenue opportunities, and focus on the profitability of practices pre-opening, reopening, and post-reopening. Practitioners can download a copy of the guide at www.walman.com/grand-reopening-playbook .
- The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) announced that it will postpone its flagship event, the IAPB Global Assembly, originally scheduled for Oct. 12 to 14, 2020, to Oct. 11 to 13, 2021. The agency is working very closely with the event hosts in Singapore, the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI). The Global Assembly in 2021 will be hosted in Singapore, and IAPB is looking forward to working with SERI on the preparations in the coming months.
- Eaglet Eye announced a new payment plan for the Eye Surface Profiler to help address the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on specialty practices. Effective immediately, Eaglet Eye will offer a payment plan that allows for about 50% of the purchase price to be paid monthly over six months at no interest.