The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about COVID-19 on its website. Of specific note to eyecare practitioners are the final two questions under the “How to Protect Yourself” section.
- Should contact lens wearers take special precautions to prevent COVID-19? The CDC says that currently, there is no evidence to suggest that contact lens wearers are more at risk for acquiring COVID-19 than eyeglass wearers are. In addition, it states that lens wearers should continue to practice safe contact lens wear and care hygiene habits to help prevent against transmission of any contact lens-related infections.
- Is contact lens disinfecting solution effective against COVID-19? The CDC notes that hydrogen peroxide-based systems for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses should be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the CDC says that there is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine the efficacy against the virus of other disinfection methods, such as multipurpose solution and ultrasonic cleaners.
To find the answers to these and many other questions about COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#How-to-Protect-Yourself . ■
ABO AND NCLE PROVIDE GUIDANCE DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) sent a notice to eyecare practitioners detailing precautions that they should take as they work with patients during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The document notes that “based on guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center[s] For Disease Control [and Prevention] (CDC) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), several reports suggest that the virus can cause conjunctivitis and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva. Patients who present for conjunctivitis who also have fever and respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath could represent cases of COVID-19.... Although viral conjunctival infection is usually caused by adenovirus, COVID-19 may cause ocular signs and symptoms, including photophobia, irritation, conjunctival injection and watery discharge. These are predominantly self-limited but may require supportive care. Ocular discharge and tears are a potential source of contamination and the eye is also a route of exposure, so personal protection is required for the patient and the care team. Protection for the mouth, eyes and nose when caring for patients is recommended, whether they are potentially infected with coronavirus or not. The virus that causes COVID-19 is very likely susceptible to the same alcohol and bleach-based disinfectants that ophthalmic offices commonly use to disinfect ophthalmic instruments and office furniture.…It is important to proactively reinforce such infection mitigation techniques with doctors and staff, no matter the size of the office setting.” ■
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LOW RISK OF CORONAVIRUS SPREADING THROUGH TEARS
While researchers are certain that coronavirus spreads through mucus and droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing, it is unclear whether the virus is spread through other bodily fluids, such as tears. A recently published study in Ophthalmology offers evidence that it is unlikely that infected patients are shedding the virus through their tears, with one important caveat: none of the patients in the study had conjunctivitis (pink eye). However, health officials believe that pink eye develops in just 1% to 3% of people who have coronavirus. The authors conclude that their findings, coupled with the low incidence of pink eye among infected patients, suggests that the risk of virus transmission through tears is low. ■
AAO AND ASCO ESTABLISH VIRTUAL CLINICAL TRAINING PROGRAM
With COVID-19 leaving students unable to see patients in person, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) is establishing a virtual clinical training program to assist with case-based learning for optometry students and to keep them on a path to graduation. The Academy and its board members are working with the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and with the deans and faculty of optometric schools to develop an online experience that will continue students’ clinical education.
As part of their clinical curriculum, optometry students typically shadow doctors and work with patients in a hospital or clinic to gain first-hand patient experience. But in the current environment, many are unable to satisfy this requirement. The new program, titled the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program (SOCCEP), will immediately provide several weeks of live streamed and/or recorded experiences, each approximately 30 minutes in length. During each session, a faculty or industry presenter will deliver a specific case study. Students will then have an opportunity to ask questions before the session concludes with the lecturer delivering a patient outcome.
While the program was designed to help fourth-year students build clinical hours toward graduation, it is also expected to be utilized as a supplemental and continuing education program for others.
For additional information on the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program, visit www.aaopt.org/soccep or the ASCO website at https://optometriceducation.org/compiled-clinical-education-resources . ■
IACLE ANNOUNCES ITS 2020 AWARD WINNERS
The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) announced the winners of its 2020 awards, who will each receive a bursary of up to $3,000 toward the cost of attending a major international meeting where they will receive their certificates; the meetings that they will attend will be confirmed once COVID-19 restrictions allow.
The IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year awards recognize and reward achievements in contact lens education worldwide. Sponsored by CooperVision and supported by the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), these awards are presented each year to an individual from each of IACLE’s global regions. The 2020 winners are: IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year–Professor Renée Reeder, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry, United States; IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year–Professor Bariah Mohd Ali, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and IACLE Europe/Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year–Jo Underwood, Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) College, Godmersham, United Kingdom.
The IACLE Travel Awards enable IACLE members to travel to international contact lens meetings and are funded by all of the Industry Sponsors of IACLE (Alcon, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Bausch + Lomb, and Euclid). These awards are also supported by the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE) and by the AAO. The 2020 recipients are Dr Elizabeth Chetty, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, who will attend the 2021 AOCLE Annual Workshop; Professor Martín Guzmán, Universidad Nacional Experimental Romulo Gallegos, Zaraza, Venezuela; and Associate Professor Nirav Mehta, Hari Jyot College of Optometry, Navsari, India. ■
COOPERVISION ANNOUNCES 2020 BEST PRACTICES HONOREES
CooperVision unveiled its 2020 Best Practices honorees. They are Advanced EyeCare, Durango, CO; Advanced Family Eye Care, Denver, NC; Associates in Eyecare – Optometrists, Ashburn, VA; Better Vision Optometric Center, P.A., Fayetteville, NC; Draisin Vision Group, Charleston, SC; Eye Center of Houston, Houston; Kapperman, White and McGarvey, Chattanooga, TN; Miamisburg Vision Care, Miamisburg, OH; Phoenix Eye Care, Phoenix; and Valencia Eyecare Optometry, Valencia, CA.
Candidates were evaluated and honorees selected by a panel of judges including past Best Practices honorees and industry experts. The 2020 Best Practices honorees are invited to participate in a specially designed educational meeting hosted by CooperVision. To learn more about this year’s honorees, visit www.eyecarebestpractices.com . ■
FDA ISSUES POLICY FOR REMOTE OPHTHALMIC ASSESSMENT AND MONITORING DEVICES
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued immediate guidance to help expand the capability of remote ophthalmic assessment and monitoring devices. These devices include visual acuity charts, visual field devices, general use ophthalmic cameras, and tonometers.
According to the FDA, this guidance is intended to help facilitate patient care while reducing patient and healthcare provider contact with and exposure to COVID-19. Read the full guidance at www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/enforcement-policy-remote-ophthalmic-assessment-and-monitoring-devices-during-coronavirus-disease?utm_campaign=2020-04-06%20COVID-19%20Remote%20Ophthalmic%20Devices&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua . ■
FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2020 NATIONAL OPTOMETRY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
The American Optometric Association (AOA) and Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation announced the doctors of optometry who were selected for induction into the National Optometry Hall of Fame. Three new inductees will be honored at a ceremony later this year, and Michael Mittelman, OD, who was selected in 2019, will be inducted at the 2020 ceremony due to a scheduling conflict last year.
The 2020 inductees are Tony Chan, OD; Robert Koetting, OD; and Satya Verman, OD. For more information about the inductees, visit www.aoa.org/news/inside-optometry/2020-hall-of-fame-inductees- . ■
SYMPOSIUM SPOTLIGHT: GSLS CE DEADLINE EXTENDED
The Global Specialty Lens Symposium (GSLS) Program Committee invites you to submit one-hour continuing education courses for consideration for the GSLS 2021, which will take place in Las Vegas from Jan. 20 to 23, 2021. Note: The submission window has been extended and will now close at 5:00 p.m. ET on May 15, 2020. Submit all materials at www.gslsymposium.com . ■
- Sight Sciences announced the closing of a more than $30 million Series E Preferred Stock financing round led by D1 Capital Partners. Proceeds will be used for continued clinical and operational development and to support commercial expansion for Sight Sciences’ Omni and TearCare products.
- NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. unveiled a rebrand for non-prescription Avenova, its antimicrobial lid and lash solution. The refresh reinforces the company’s strategy of reaching a broader audience through Avenova.com and Amazon.com . Avenova is a patented, FDA-cleared formula that uses pure hypochlorous acid to treat issues such as bacterial dry eye, blepharitis, and contact lens intolerance.
- AbbVie and Allergan plc announced that they have entered into a consent decree agreement with staff of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding AbbVie’s pending acquisition of Allergan. Under the terms of the consent decree, the companies have agreed to divest brazikumab, an investigational IL-23 inhibitor in development for autoimmune diseases, to AstraZeneca and to divest Zenpep, a treatment for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis and other conditions, to Nestle. Nestle also will be acquiring Viokace, another pancreatic enzyme preparation, as part of the same transaction.
- Nicox SA announced that its U.S. licensee, Eyevance Pharmaceuticals, has launched Zerviate in the United States. Commercial supplies were shipped to national wholesalers recently and are now available in pharmacies for patients to fill a prescription.
- A transatlantic partnership between Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland and Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Pennsylvania has created a new online learning resource allowing eyecare practitioners and technicians to complete certified training about the importance of nutrition to eye health at their desk or using a mobile device. Those who complete each session will be tested with a short online questionnaire before receiving an online certificate as proof of successful completion. MacuLearn.com is the brainchild of Professor John Nolan, Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, School of Health Science, Waterford Institute of Technology, and Dr. James Stringham, Visual Performance Laboratory, Duke University Medical School, North Carolina. Additional learning modules are scheduled to be added through the rest of 2020 and beyond.
- The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) is offering all educators access to its IACLE Case Reports Series in the “Free Resources” area of its website at www.iacle.org . It provides 23 illustrated, interactive case reports with multiple-choice questions. This resource is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and simplified Chinese. In addition, the 2013 version of the IACLE Contact Lens Course (ICLC) comprises 10 modules in 55 parts in PowerPoint format and is also available. The latest version of the course—ICLC2020—was scheduled to be launched in April. IACLE is also currently developing a series of narrated lectures as additional support for its members worldwide.
- Quidel Corporation has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its Lyra SARS-CoV-2 Assay, a real-time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimens from patients suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider. The Lyra SARS-CoV-2 Assay is currently only available for sale in the United States and can be purchased either through Quidel’s sales force or through Cardinal Health.
- ABB Optical Group will be launching a free patient outreach program designed for eyecare practices to connect with patients and inform them of direct ECP-to-patient shipping options, a service provided by ABB Optical Group. ECPs will be able to download a toolkit that contains social engagement posts, e-mail communications, and signage informing patients that they can place their contact lens orders through their ECP and receive their shipment at home—all without even coming into the office. In addition, the company has introduced an online Virtual Resource Center that is available to ABB customers and focuses on helping ECPs with patient outreach, provider education, and practice process and strategy tools.
- The FDA issued EUA for a point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic for the Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test. The company had expected to roll out availability of its point-of-care testing by March 30.
- Everlywell announced an at-home collection kit with telehealth diagnosis for COVID-19. The test can be requested online by consumers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The company’s COVID-19 lab partners are operating under the EUA guidelines issued by the FDA. To access a COVID-19 test, consumers can go to www.everlywell.com , where they will be asked to complete a screening questionnaire provided by an independent telehealth partner and based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The test will be available for $135 at no profit to Everlywell and will be covered by participating HSA and FSA providers.
- Harrow Health, Inc. and ImprimisRx, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harrow, announced that they have entered into an exclusive agreement with Doxy.me, a full-service telemedicine solution. This agreement will provide all ImprimisRx ophthalmology, optometry, and wellness practices with the Clinic level Doxy.me telemedicine solution at no charge. Existing ImprimisRx customers can request their telemedicine account by visiting www.imprimisrx.com/telemed .
- Abbott announced that the FDA has issued EUA for a molecular point-of-care test for the detection of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. The test will run on the company’s ID Now platform.
- Walman and its family of optical companies launched Ask Walman, an information and resource helpline. It will be available for everyone as a complimentary and confidential service. Topics include staffing and payroll, payment terms, resources for rental and landlord communications, government assistance, and more. The helpline will be available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST. Contact the helpline at (855) 868-1076 or visit www.walman.com/AskWalman for additional details.
- Physicians and researchers from leading academic institutions and a volunteer team from Pinterest, Inc. announced the How We Feel Project (HWF), a nonprofit health research consortium. The organization’s first product is a mobile app called How We Feel, which prompts people—healthy or not—to share how they’re feeling, their age, and their ZIP Code. The How We Feel app is available for download in the United States on iOS and Android and via the web at www.howwefeel.org .
- Dr. Shehzad Naroo, editor of the British Contact Lens Associations’ journal Contact Lens and Anterior Eye (CLAE), will be joined by co-presenter Dr. Fabrizio Zeri for a webinar at 6.30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. GMT on May 19 titled “Contact lens practice in the time of COVID-19.” To register or to find out more, visit www.bcla.org.uk .
- DocClocker, an app that enables patients to receive real-time wait time reporting of their medical providers, is helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) nationwide by enabling patients to avoid long waits in medical waiting rooms. In addition to receiving real-time wait times, patients can locate and select in-network medical providers, selected by reviewing the provider’s specific information and a display of average wait times. Patients can manage appointments through the app, receive appointment reminders, write reviews, and report long waits. DocClocker is free to all patients and is available for both Apple and Android.