State Association Names Optometrist Of The Year


The honor took place during the OOA’s EastWest Eye Conference.

The Ohio Optometric Association has named Dr. Tom Quinn as Optometrist of the Year. The honor took place during the association’s annual EastWest Eye Conference, which took place in Cleveland, the Athens Messenger reports.

Quinn practices at Drs. Quinn, Foster & Associates in Athens.

A bio for Quinn on his practice website explains that he is a graduate of the Ohio State University’s specialized postgraduate contact lens program.

“Through his advanced expertise, our office serves as an investigational site for many contact lenses related studies,” the site explains.

Quinn was one of the original FDA investigators for corneal refractive therapy. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomate of the Cornea and Contact Lens Section. He is a member of the American Optometric Association.

Read more at the Athens Messenger.

Opticians Association Of America Re-Elects President


She wants to “repay the profession” in this role.

The Opticians Association of America has re-elected Sandy Brown of Kentucky as its president. The election took place during OAA's annual delegate assembly meeting, which was held at the recent OptiCon Conference in Orlando, FL.

The delegate assembly serves as the voting body of the association and consists of OAA members from all over the U.S.

"It is quite an honor for me to know that my fellow opticians have faith that I can lead this wonderful organization for another term,” Brown said. “For as long as I can remember, opticianry has been a major part of my life. I hope that I can repay the profession by continuing to serve as a president and helping to move our proud profession forward.”

Brown added: “It is my sincere belief that if the profession can continue to work together and focus on the importance opticians play in the overall eye health system that the sky is the limit to what we can accomplish.”

Brown is the former president of the Opticians Association of Kentucky and the SouthEastern Opticians Conference.

The OAA is an organization representing opticianry's business, professional, educational, legislative and regulatory interests.

Read more from OAA.

Optometrist Lives Out Childhood Dream With This Big Change


He’ll save $5,000 a year in his practice.

Dr. Archibald Morris in Edensburg, PA, has been fascinated by renewable energy sources since he was a child.

Now he’s living out his dream by moving his practice, A.R Morris O.D. & Associates, to solar energy, the Daily American reports. He put solar panels on the roof of his building and on the ground.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture provided a grant to assist with the project, which was completed by Paradise Energy Solutions.

“Solar is free, clean, efficient and economical to produce, and helps to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil,” Morris says.

Marty Clemmer of Paradise Energy Solutions said the solar panels should save the practice $5,000 a year in energy costs.

Read more at the Daily American.

Feds Warn Of Dangerous ‘Black Market’ Contact Lenses


Many consumers buy them for Halloween.

With Halloween fast approaching, federal authorities are warning consumers of the dangers of decorative “black market” contact lenses.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Food and Drug Administration are together sounding the alarm about risks such as bacteria and conjunctivitis.

“Criminal elements will capitalize on the excitement of the holiday season by selling substandard, dangerous counterfeit and illegal items with no regard for the health and safety of consumers,” said Peter Edge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Our agents are committed to collaborating with external agencies to develop effective operations and conduct aggressive investigations into the distribution of fake goods that threaten the American public with lengthy medical procedures and strenuous rehabilitation programs.”

The lenses are sold at retail outlets and online. The agencies have made several hundred seizures totaling around 100,000 pairs of counterfeit, illegal and unapproved contact lenses, according to a press release.

Several investigations into the trafficking of counterfeit and unapproved contact lenses have included testing, which has revealed high levels of bacteria that could cause significant health problems, according to the release. The presence of bacteria and other toxins are the result of poor sanitary conditions during packaging and improper storage during the shipping process. Additionally, the coloring on decorative contact lenses may be made of lead-based materials that leach directly into the eye, the release stated.

“A valid prescription helps ensure consumers get contact lenses that are determined to be safe and effective by the FDA. Without it, people can risk serious eye injuries or loss of eyesight for one night of fun,” said George M. Karavetsos, director of the FDA’s office of criminal investigations. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who attempt to circumvent the regulatory process and put the public’s health at risk.”

Read the press release.

New Optometry College Welcomes 65 Students


The first students are set to graduate in spring 2020.

The school year is in full swing for the inaugural class of 65 students at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry.

“The KYCO Office of Student Affairs received an impressive number of applications from qualified candidates across the country,” said Roya Attar, assistant clinical professor and director of professional relations. “More than 650 applications were reviewed, and nearly 150 prospective students were interviewed over a five-month period.”

The 38 women and 27 men accepted represent 22 states, the school said in a press release last week. A quarter of the class identifies with racial and ethnic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in optometry, according to the college.

The optometry program will be housed in the new Health Professions Education Building. The approximately $65 million building contains classrooms, teaching labs and surgical suites that allow for hands-on training through virtual reality technology, simulation and standardized patient education.

Students gain their clinical training at Pikeville Medical Center as well as federally qualified health care centers nearby.

The first students are set to earn their doctorate of optometry degrees in spring 2020.

The University of Pikeville is the 22nd school in the country to have a college of optometry.

Read more from the University of Pikeville.

Optometry Educator Receives Distinguished Service Award


The award recognizes faculty leadership and dedication.

Douglas G. Horner, associate professor emeritus in the Indiana University School of Optometry, has been awarded the 2016 Distinguished Service Award for IU Bloomington.

The award, first presented in 1986, recognizes faculty leadership and dedication within the university, a discipline and the community. Recipients are chosen by a faculty committee under the auspices of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.

Horner, an IU Bloomington faculty member for 28 years, helped train hundreds of optometrists, including many who practice in Indiana and others who work across the U.S. and the world. He led and expanded an IU optometry service program in Guanajuato, Mexico, and helped establish optometry programs in Nepal, Thailand and Ghana.

"Dr. Horner has had a tremendous impact on eye care in the United States and elsewhere, including Mexico, Asia and Africa," said Eliza Pavalko, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. "Through his research, teaching and service, he has been a true champion for advancing the mission of the School of Optometry and improving vision care worldwide."

In the area of research, he pursued an interdisciplinary approach, partnering with mathematicians, area studies specialists and other scholars on studies and projects to address vital issues of public health. His recent research includes a series of papers that applied the tools of vision science to the clinical practice of perimetry, a method to systematically test patients' visual field.

Horner grew up in Forest Grove, OR, and earned B.S. and O.D. degrees from Pacific University in Forest Grove. Drawn to research, he then earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in optometry from the University of Houston. He was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of California, Berkeley, before accepting a faculty position at Indiana University.

In 1992, as faculty adviser for IU Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity missions to Guanajuato, he worked with faculty to adjust teaching schedules to accommodate students who would spend a week in the Mexican community serving patients. Working with the Guanajuato community, he transformed the program from one-week annual visits to a full-fledged clinic serving 2,000 people.

Horner's 1999 visit and teaching in Kathmandu, Nepal, led to further collaboration and resulted in the development of an optometry program at Ramkhamhaeng in Thailand. More recently, he worked with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Cape Coast in Ghana to create a faculty development program for graduate students and junior faculty interested in vision science.

"Dr. Horner has consistently dedicated his efforts in research, teaching, service and engagement at the international level," wrote P. Sarita Soni, professor emerita of optometry and former IU vice provost for research, and William H. Swanson, professor of optometry. "He has communicated his passion for outreach to numerous students, residents and faculty at the School of Optometry, encouraging them to develop an understanding of international aspects of health care and compassion for those in need."

A reception to honor Horner and the 2016 Provost Professors, Wells Professor and Sonneborn Award recipient will take place Nov. 29 in Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall.

Douglas G. Horner, associate professor emeritus in the Indiana University School of Optometry,
has been awarded the 2016 Distinguished Service Award for IU Bloomington.

ABB Optical Group to Buy Diversified Ophthalmics, MidSouth Premier Ophthalmics


ABB chief: Merger “allows us to expand our footprint geographically.”

ABB Optical Group, a Coral Springs, FL-based distributor of optical products, is acquiring Diversified Ophthalmics Inc. and partner company MidSouth Premier Ophthalmics.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ABB said in a press release that the transaction will combine “the complementary geographic operations of Diversified and MidSouth in the central U.S. with the strong logistics network ABB Optical already has along the east and west coasts.” The company said the merger also represents a fit of business models as both organizations operate in four core areas:

  • Distribution of soft contact lenses.

  • Manufacturing and distribution of ophthalmic lenses and eyewear.

  • GP and custom soft manufacturing.

  • Support of practice management and buying groups (ABB’s Primary Eyecare Network and Diversified’s ECP Network).

The merger “allows us to expand our footprint geographically, and that will result in even greater success for our customers and convenience for their patients,” said Angel Alvarez, CEO of ABB. In addition to its corporate headquarters and distribution center in Florida, ABB has a distribution facility in Marshfield, MA; a distribution facility and its Digital Eye Lab in Hawthorne, NY; and a distribution facility and manufacturing labs for gas permeable and custom soft lenses, as well as its Primary Eyecare Network, in Alameda, CA. The company was founded in 1989.

“We are thrilled to be joining the ABB family,” said Ronald F. Cooke, an optometrist who serves as president and CEO of Diversified Ophthalmics. “Together we will remain steadfast in our commitment to quality and service for independent eye care professionals by providing innovative programs and services that will energize the eye care industry. We are excited about the future.”

Diversified Ophthalmics was founded in Cincinnati in 1977 and has offices and labs in Spokane, WA; Columbia, SC; Milwaukee, WI; and Houston, TX. MidSouth Premier Ophthalmics got its start in 1976, and with primary facilities in Nashville, Memphis and Atlanta, manages multiple labs and distribution facilities across the south.

HPC Puckett & Co., headquartered in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, represented Diversified Ophthalmics and MidSouth Premier Ophthalmics in the transaction.

Optometry College Gets Nearly $2M In Awards


The money will fund clinical care as well as education.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced nearly $2 million in NYSUNY 2020 awards for the State University of New York College of Optometry.

The awards will fund an expanded clinical care facility and a virtual reality simulation laboratory to provide clinical education. The college graduates 60 percent of all optometrists in New York State, and the funding will help meet the increasing demand for highly trained eye care professionals, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

"We must ensure that health care professionals have the best skills and training for a stronger, healthier New York," Cuomo said. "This funding will equip SUNY Optometry with state-of-the-art facilities with cutting-edge technology to support exceptional patient care and meet the needs of New Yorkers."

According to the release, $1.5 million will go toward the expanded clinical care facility. It will increase capacity to accommodate enrollment growth.

Meanwhile, $367,000 will go toward the virtual reality simulation lab. The lab will include 14 preclinical training simulators that use an integrated, augmented reality technology to provide a 3-D experience for ocular examinations.

SUNY Optometry President David A. Heath said: "Taken together, these two projects will support our 30 percent increase in enrollment while enhancing our educational, patient care, and research programs. They will ultimately advance eye care for the evolving needs of the citizens of New York State. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for supporting our students, faculty, patients and staff with these NYSUNY 2020 awards."

Read more from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office.

Supermodel Designs Sunglasses For A Good Cause


They’re “a rounded riff on her favorite cat-eye frame.”

Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver has worked with Illesteva to launch a new pair of sunglasses that Vogue describes as “a rounded riff on her favorite cat-eye frame.”

The limited-edition release will benefit children with HIV or AIDS in the developed world via the nonprofit Keep a Child Alive, according to the magazine.

The sunglasses retail for $240.

The collaboration worked well on a couple of levels for Skriver, who has long been involved in charity work and is a huge fan of sunglasses.

The Danish model’s parents are both gay, and she was conceived through in vitro fertilization. “Being born in a family who has always been nontraditional and kind of unconventional, I know about the stigma that everyone always throws at you,” she tells Vogue, “so it really hit me that the world isn’t talking about it anymore and that they treat kids with AIDS so differently.”

Skriver took to Instagram to say: “these sunglasses reflect my personal style and the charity reflects my passion.”

Read more at Vogue.

The ‘Golden Age Of Small Business’ Is Upon Us, Report Says


These 5 trends will give small businesses an edge.

A “golden age of small business” is emerging, driven by rapid technological change, a shifting workforce and evolving consumer demands, a new report suggests.

The new “QuickBooks Future of Small Business” report identifies five trends that will give small businesses a competitive edge over the next decade. The report was developed by Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) in partnership with Emergent Research.

Perhaps you’re already taking advantage of some of these trends, or thinking about how you might do so. On the other hand, some of the developments might seem irrelevant or even potentially harmful, depending on the specifics of your business.

One thing’s for sure: Given the pace of change at this point, any of these changes could prove important for your business in ways that are hard to predict right now.

The trends, according to the report:

  • World-class business infrastructure. Small businesses have the ability to build upon technology infrastructure that was once the sole domain of large organizations, such as cloud computing, manufacturing and distribution. These resources are now available at a variable cost, allowing small businesses to scale up and down and only pay for what they use. Today, 62 percent of small businesses are operating their business in the cloud, up from 37 percent two years ago.

  • Insightful data. With 90 percent of the world’s data generated in the last two years, small businesses are able to use their own data to gain deeper customer and business insights. Technological advances such as machine learning are taking the complexity out of data analysis, providing small businesses with the ability to make faster, better decisions.

  • A growing pool of on-demand talent. Driven by the growth of contingent workers, projected to represent 43 percent of the workforce by 2020, small businesses have access to the right people at the right time in a flexible way, Intuit explains in a press release.

  • Online marketplaces. Rising consumer demand for niche products and services, coupled with the emergence of online marketplaces, is allowing small businesses to embrace and scale their do-it-yourself roots, according to Intuit. The company explains: “Small businesses can now participate in online marketplaces to gain access to millions of previously unreachable customers.”

  • Cost-effective online advertising. There are opportunities for small businesses to deliver their targeted messages to prospective customers in any location. Online options range from sponsored photos to in-stream video ads, and many of them are fairly low-cost with sub-$100 options readily available.

The report also forecasts an acceleration in the growth of U.S. small businesses over the next decade, from 30 million in 2016 to over 42 million in 2026. This represents an average annual growth rate of 3.3 percent, a significant increase on the 2 percent average growth seen between 2004 and 2014, the most recent data available.

“The next few years will see an acceleration in the number of small and micro businesses thanks in large part to new technologies that reduce the costs and risks of operating a small business and open up access to customers around the world,” said Steve King, partner at Emergent Research. “While running a business is always going to be tough work, economic and technological changes are making it easier and cheaper to start and operate a successful small business.”

Karen Peacock, senior vice president of small business at Intuit, said the “decade of the small business” is upon us.

“Industry-shifting trends like lower-cost, scalable infrastructure to start and grow your business, the ability to build a team with amazing on-demand talent, and data that helps you fuel your business and delight your customers are game changers,” she said.

Read more at Business Wire.

Smart Vision Expands Telemedicine Program To New State, Plans Further Growth


The firm offers a mobile-phone based vision exam.

Smart Vision Labs, which offers eye exams via telemedicine, has announced a partnership with Devlyn Optical in California.

Devlyn will roll out a pilot program at three locations in the Los Angeles area in which it will offer Smart Vision Exams.

Smart Vision explains that it “offers a mobile-phone based vision exam where patients can obtain an eyewear prescription in minutes without the need for a doctor on-site.”

The company adds: “Smart Vision Exams uses the same advanced technology developed for LASIK to capture how light travels back and forth through a person’s eye. The data is then sent to a remote network of eye doctors who review the results and when necessary, provide updated eyeglass prescriptions.”

Smart Vision offers its exams in 30 locations in New York and California. The company says it’s looking to expand to other states in coming months.

Devlyn Optical is an optical retailer with over 880 retail locations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and the U.S.

“Devlyn Optical is the ideal partner to launch our expansion to Los Angeles,” said Yaopeng Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Smart Vision Labs. “They have a great brand and optical network which is ready to evolve with our technology. They understand the value we offer to their business and validated the high quality of our prescriptions.”

The Los Angeles-area pilot will roll out at Devlyn’s Walnut Park, Chino and Panorama City locations.

Jesse W. Devlyn Jr., CEO of Devlyn Optical, said the telemedicine solution “is not only fast and easy to use but also provides an extremely reliable measurement of a person’s refractive error and prescription for glasses and contact lenses.”

Read more from Smart Vision Labs.

Optometrist Sentenced To Prison For Illegally Writing Prescriptions


He prescribed codeine and hydrocodone.

An optometrist in Shreveport, LA, has been sentenced to six months in prison for writing prescriptions for non-patients and non-medical purposes.

Charles D. Shanks, 64, was sentenced on one count of distributing or dispensing a controlled substance, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 14, 2015.

The sentence issued by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter also included three years of supervised release.

Shanks wrote dozens of prescriptions for codeine and hydrocodone in 2012 and 2013 from pharmacies and wholesale distributors that were for non-patients and not for valid medical purposes, according to the press release.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Cowles Jr. prosecuted the case.

Read more from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Opternative Sues State Government Over Ban


The firm says the ban violates its “right to pursue an honest living.”

Opternative has filed a lawsuit in South Carolina challenging the state’s ban on its prescriptions. The Chicago-based startup company, which offers online eye exams, says the restriction goes against its “right to pursue an honest living,” the Chicago Tribune reports. Named in the lawsuit are the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and as well as its Board of Medical Examiners.

Opternative filed the lawsuit with the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit organization.

Opternative lost its ability to operate in South Carolina earlier this year when the state passed its Eye Care Consumer Protection Law, the Tribune notes. The upshot of the legislation is that in order to get a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, you first have to be examined face-to-face.

The suit was being filed in the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas, Chicago Inno reports. Indiana and Georgia in addition to South Carolina have banned Opternative.

The American Optometric Association has said there are "severe pitfalls in separating refractive tests from annual comprehensive eye exams performed in-person by an eye care professional." But Chicago Inno quoted Opternative CEO and co-founder Aaron Dallek saying: “We’re suing the state of South Carolina to protect patients’ right to accessible and affordable eye care services. Doctors should be able to use Opternative’s innovative telehealth technology to help patients in South Carolina see clearly.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune. | Read more at Chicago Inno.

Here’s Why So Many People Have Dry Eye Nowadays (According To ECPs)


This habit is ubiquitous.

About 89 percent of eyecare professionals believe today’s multiscreen lifestyle – everyday use of mobile, tablet and computer screens – is responsible for a rise in dry eye disease, according to newly released survey results.

The National Eye C.A.R.E. Survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Shire. It included more than 1,000 optometrists and ophthalmologists and more than 1,200 adults with dry eye symptoms.

While women ages 50 and older are still most likely to be affected by dry eye disease, ECPs also report that use of modern technology is changing the face of the condition. They believe dry eye disease is affecting younger adults at a growing rate, according to the survey.

"Survey results highlight the expanding patient demographics that many eye care professionals have been observing in their practices," said Dr. Marguerite McDonald, a board-certified ophthalmologist with Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island.

McDonald added: “In today's world, adults of various ages need to know what symptoms to look for and talk to an ECP right away if they notice these changes in their eyes.” Among ECPs the survey found:

  • Most say the use of modern technology contributes to dry eye symptoms (92 percent) and that dry eye disease is becoming more common because of today's multiscreen lifestyle (89 percent).

  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) report an increase in patients between the ages of 18-34 with dry eye symptoms compared with 10 years ago.

  • Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) say that in today's world, there is no one typical type of dry eye patient.

According to adults with dry eye symptoms who participated in the survey:

  • Screens including computers, TVs, handheld electronics (smartphones, tablets, e-readers), and video games receive primary blame for causing their symptoms, with more than half (53 percent) feeling that screen time is responsible for their dry eyes.

  • Fewer respondents attribute their symptoms to other factors like aging, lack of sleep, contact lens use or environmental factors.

  • Most (79 percent) say they are more aware of "feeling their eyes" after viewing a screen and that using a screen is challenging as a result of their dry eyes (59 percent).

Still, on average, adults with dry eye symptoms spend eight hours daily in front of a screen, pointing to how difficult it may be to disconnect even when screen time is perceived to contribute to dry eye symptoms.

Despite dry eye disease becoming more common, lack of awareness and other factors may be causing patients to be missed. According to the survey, eight in 10 ECPs believe dry eye disease is underdiagnosed.

Read the full press release.

Optometry Researchers Get $1.9M To Study Dry Eye


It's "the most frequent eye disease that an eyecare practitioner sees."

Optometry researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been awarded a $1.9 million grant to study dry eye.

They’ll be looking at potential molecular markers in patients that could predict structural and functional changes of the eye in dry eye disease, according to a press release. They hope the work will lead to a targeted therapy.

“Dry eye is the most frequent eye disease that an eyecare practitioner sees,” said Dr. Jason Nichols, a professor in the UAB School of Optometry. “The study will look at the lipid layer of the eye and the biochemical changes that cause dry eye. Once we understand these changes, we will be able to better treat the condition that affects up to 30 percent of the world.”

The research, funded by the National Eye Institute, focuses on the impact of the eye’s outer lipid layer.

Nichols is looking to target and identity the fatty acids that decrease the tear film, and their structural impact on the eye, using custom-built optical systems capable of measuring the very thin tear film. This study will help determine the functional impact of the lipid layer that increases the evaporation of the thinning tear film, causing dry eye.

“We hope to find the specific lipid that has been altered in the lipid layer to be able to provide patients with targeted treatment by either replacing the lipid or fixing the glands so they express the right amount of lipids,” said Nichols, who is also assistant vice president for industry research development in the UAB Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Read more from UAB.

Jason Nichols, O.D., Ph.D., continues to advance dry eye research at UAB with
$1.9 million grant from the National Eye Institute.