National Eye Institute Releases National Plan for Vision Research
The National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government’s National Institutes of Health, recently published its latest planning document, the National Plan for Eye and Vision Research. The Plan provides a clear view of the state of vision research and identifies the most pressing scientific needs and opportunities. The planning process provides a vehicle to more rapidly identify and bring emerging areas of science to bear on vision problems.
The National Plan addresses each of the NEI’s major programs: the Retinal Diseases Program, the Corneal Diseases Program, Glaucoma and Optic Neuropathies, Strabismus, the Amblyopia and Visual Processing Program, the Low Vision and Blindness Rehabilitation Program, and the National Eye Health Education Program. The development and publication of the National Plan is the first of a two-phase strategic planning process for the NEI. The second phase consists of an ongoing effort to conduct workshops, conferences, and symposia in critical and emerging research areas to explore how they might be applied to eye diseases. This second phase will assist the NEI in evaluating and updating the National Plan and to fulfill its goals and objectives. The Plan is available on the NEI’s Web site at www.nei.nih.gov/strategicplanning.
Essilor Announces Recipients of Technology Grants
Essilor of America, Inc. has announced the winners of its 2003 Essilor Optical Technology Grants—one-time awards given to colleges of optometry that exhibit their commitment to growing the industry through new advancements. The University of Alabama Birmingham School of Optometry, and the Indiana University School of Optometry each received $20,000 grants to apply toward continuing industry education. A tie between Illinois College of Optometry and the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry resulted in Essilor dividing the prize, with each school receiving $10,000.
Essilor introduced the grant program at the annual Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry meeting. Details of the 2004 grant program will be announced in the spring. Entry requirements included a description in 1,000 words or less why the school needs and deserves the grant. Applications were judged on the school’s commitment to the growth of premium optical technology as well as how the money will help the school elevate the standards and visibility of ophthalmic dispensing for students. For more information, please visit the new www.essilorusa.com.
SECO International Announces 2004 Award Winners
SECO International, LLC, has announced the winners of three annual awards recognizing significant contributions to the profession of Optometry. John F. Amos, OD, MS, FAAO, Dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, is the 2004 recipient of SECO International’s highest honor: Optometrist of the South. The Paraoptometric of the South award went to Janice Payne, CPO, a staff member of Dr. R. Kent Stribling’s private practice in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The Award of Merit was given to Mary-Jean Sanspree, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. The Alabama Optometric Association nominated Dr. Sanspree.
Illinois College of Optometry Honors William G. Allyn
The Illinois College of Optometry (www.ico.edu) presented its Presidential Medal of Honor to William G. Allyn at his home in Naples, Florida on January 28, 2004. The Presidential Medal of Honor is bestowed upon those individuals who demonstrate excellence in making a contribution to education and patient care activities related to optometry and vision care.
Mr. Allyn is the son of the founder of Welch Allyn, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of frontline medical products and solutions. He became president of Welch Allyn in 1947 and served in that capacity until 1971 when he became chairman until 1977. He played a pivotal role in developing Welch Allyn’s ocular equipment, and through his leadership, the company has remained a leading manufacturer of the ophthalmoscope, a medical device that examines the interior part of the eye. Even at the age of 95, Mr. Allyn can be seen walking the halls of Welch Allyn’s headquarters in Skaneateles Falls, New York, during the summer months.
Study Finds Bausch & Lomb Corticosteroid Safe for Long-Term Use
A study has shown that Bausch & Lomb’s proprietary corticosteroid, loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension 0.2%, which is marketed under the brand name Alrex, is safe for long-term treatment of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, or SAC. The study retrospectively reviewed data at three U.S. centers from 397 patients who used Alrex eye drops on a long-term basis to treat the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. Of those, 159 patients used the Alrex product for periods ranging between 1 and 4 years, in many cases for up to four times day. Among the 159 long-term users of the product, there were no reported incidences of elevated intraocular pressure, no cataract formation, and no infections at any point during treatment. The study was published in the January issue of Eye and Contact Lens.
Medicare to Cover Ocular Photodynamic Therapy
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that it will provide Medicare coverage for Ocular Photodynamic Therapy with Verteporfin, the only clinically proven treatment for wet macular degeneration. A full background on treatment and coverage is available online at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ncdr/memo.asp?id=101.
Optelec Sets Sights on Blindness Market
Optelec, Inc., a subsidiary of the Tieman Group (NL), announced that it will enter the blindness market with a complete line of adaptive products designed to increase the mobility and connectivity of blind children and adults. Heading up the project is Larry Lewis, the newly appointed Vice President of Blindness Sales. Larry joins Optelec from Pulse Data International, a New Zealand-based company. While at Pulse Data, Larry led the development of the BrailleNote family of personal data assistants, serving as both product manager and head of U.S. sales. Under Larry’s guidance, the product became the premiere portable information management system to date. Most importantly, this technology has changed the lives of thousands of blind users within educational, vocational, and residential settings. Congenitally blind from cataracts that developed into a juvenile form of glaucoma, Lewis was mainstreamed into the public school system. He is a fluent Braille reader and writer and a strong advocate of Braille literacy. For more information, visit www.optelec.com.
CIBA Vision Finalizes Sale of its Surgical Business
CIBA Vision Corporation, the eye care unit of Novartis, has announced that it has completed the sale of a significant portion of its surgical business. Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc., acted as CIBA Vision’s exclusive financial advisor in relation to these transactions. The specifics of the sale agreements are as follows: IOLTECH has purchased CIBA Vision’s Vivarte and Vivarte Presbyopic phakic refractive lens, CV232 SRE intraocular lens, Tear Saver and Tear Saver PLUS punctum plugs, UniVisc viscoelastic, VisThesia A viscoelastic that includes anesthesia, and Ophthalin and Ophthalin Plus viscoelastics. IOLTECH has also purchased certain marketing and distribution rights to the PRL phakic refractive lens. CIBA Vision will retain its equity share in Refocus Group, however, Refocus will reassume the licensing and all marketing rights worldwide to its Pres-VIEW Scleral Implant and the Surgical Spacing Procedure for the treatment of presbyopia, glaucoma, and ocular hypertension. Negotiations for the remaining products within the surgical portfolio are ongoing. CIBA Vision will provide transitional services on a case-by-case basis to the new owners to minimize the effect on customers and their patients.
Essilor’s 2004 National Sales Meeting with Al Roker
Essilor’s 2004 National Sales Meeting in January had a sunny start with an appearance by America’s favorite weatherman, Al Roker. Roker spoke about his upcoming involvement with Essilor’s revolutionary anti-reflective lens, Crizal Alizé. Roker will participate in public relations efforts for Essilor by commenting on the benefits of being a Crizal Alizé wearer. His testimonial quotes will be used in press materials and visual and audio news releases.
During his address at the meeting, Essilor Lenses President Mike Daley encouraged attendees to elevate their commitment to the industry. Citing the company’s pledge to customers, Daley foreshadowed new products and services that encompass technological advancements never seen before. In 2004, Essilor will use the same recipe for leadership that it has used for the past 25 years: a clear focus on ophthalmic lenses, a long term commitment to grow the market, and, of course, innovation.
Allergan Closes FTC Investigation of Acular Patent Infringement Case
Allergan, Inc. has announced that the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Competition has notified Allergan that it has officially closed its investigation to determine whether Allergan, Syntex International, Ltd., or any other person is engaging in unfair competition by monopolizing or attempting to monopolize the market for ketorolac tromethamine ophthalmic solution by preventing or slowing generic competition to Acular (ketorolac tromethamine ophthalmic solution 0.5%).
The FTC’s decision to close the investigation follows a December 29, 2003 ruling by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in favor of Allergan, Inc., and Syntex International, Ltd., and concluding that the patent covering Acular is valid, enforceable, and infringed by a generic drug proposed to be manufactured by Apotex, Inc., Apotex Corp., and Novex Pharma, Inc.