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4 Optometric Practices That Demonstrated Next-Level Community Outreach in 2018

They made a priority of making a difference in 2018.

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Classic Vision CareKennesaw, GA

Orchestrating Your Outreach

Translating good intentions into action isn’t always easy. Sometimes all you need is the right partner. Classic Vision Care, a community-minded practice in Kennesaw, GA, found a willing collaborator in MUST Ministries, a faith-based organization headquartered in neighboring Marietta that has been providing food, shelter and basic medical services to the less fortunate in its local community for decades. MUST were planning their health fair for the homeless when Ankit Patel of Classic Vision reached out looking for a way to give back to the community. MUST suggested he participate in the fair, but, according to Kaye Cagle, the charity’s vice president for marketing and public relations, “He took it a step further and said he would also help with some of our [non-homeless] clients who are in need.” Classic Vision Care now provides screening and eyewear to those that can’t afford it, as identified by MUST. Patel describes the payoff as “endless from personal to business. I have always enjoyed giving back to the community either by volunteering or donating.” Beyond that, the deeper community involvement has benefited Classic Vision materially: “People think of us when in need of eyecare. There are tax benefits since we donate our chair time, doctor time, and optician time … and we donate the lenses, either single vision or bifocals,” Patel says.

Great Spectacles
Stockton, CA

Turning Trash into Treasure

Recycling. If you’re talking about aluminum cans or PET bottles, it’s no hassle. For something more complicated—say, those frame boxes that clutter up your storeroom—it gets more challenging. As with most things in independent retail life, sometimes you’ve just got to come up with the ideas yourself. Lynda Winter at Great Spectacles in Stockton, CA did just that; she started saving frame boxes, figuring they must be good for something. That “something” was supplied by a retired educator who “asked to take the boxes to the Children’s Museum to use for projects.” As Winter jokingly puts it, a “reach-out recycle business” was born. “We save them for a variety of different teachers at many different schools around our area. We consistently collect them all year long, and once we have a bagful we reach out to our customers who are teachers. It’s first-come-first-serve, unless there has been a specific request.” In just one example, the kids at nearby Rainbow Elementary School were studying Italian architecture, and replicated Renaissance cathedrals using Winter’s humble frame boxes.
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Special Eyes Pediatric Vision Clinic,
New Bern, NC

Something Special

Special Eyes Pediatric Vision Clinic’s origins are traceable to a particular patient. In late 2014 Dr. Cathy Doty examined an 18-month-old boy named Joseph who arrived at associated practice Family Eye Care in New Bern, NC, with an untreated strabismus that had notably delayed his general development. Troubled by the fact that Joseph’s parents, as members of a public health scheme, had been forced to wait three months to see her, Doty made the decision to dedicate herself to pediatric and special-needs optometry. Her partners were agreeable, and by May 2015 she had opened Special Eyes Pediatric Vision Clinic. Doty now sees patients up to 16 years of age and special needs patients of all ages, offering comprehensive exams and same-day emergency visits with pediatrician referrals. “No two days are the same, that is for sure! Some of the patients come in on gurneys from residential facilities,” she says. Doty’s not one to talk about herself, but she does admit to being “just blessed beyond measure to have a supportive husband, partner, amazing staff, and community that have all supported this endeavor.” She took a leap of faith, she says, “and God has provided. I can’t even put a price on what this has all meant to me personally.”

Eye & Vision Care
Santa Barbara, CA

Fundraising Par Excellence

Since 1988, Eye & Vision Care has worked closely with a host of local charities to benefit vision-related programs and the community. The jewel in the crown of this impressive local outreach is an annual golf tournament that raises money for groundbreaking research conducted at the University of California, Santa Barbara, along with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Last year’s tournament drew more than 100 golfers to the Santa Barbara Golf Club and, aside from the main competition, included activities such as giving sighted folks an opportunity to experience golfing blind. According to optical manager Joe Vega, the rewards have been “amazing” in terms of the fund-raising, the business returns, and bringing staff together. “The love we get from our town is a great reward,” he says—and so are the referrals.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at heath@smartworkmedia.com.

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Ophthalmologists Hope to Undo State Law That Allows ODs to Perform Eye Surgery

They’re attempting a ballot referendum.

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A movement is afoot in Arkansas to undo recently passed state legislation that allows optometrists to perform certain surgeries.

It’s being led by Safe Surgery Arkansas, a group of medical doctors, Talk Business & Politics reports. They hope to use a ballot referendum to accomplish their goal.

R. Scott Lowery, president of the Arkansas Ophthalmological Society, was quoted saying: “Every day the people of Arkansas rely on medical doctors who have the experience and training to perform medical procedures to ensure that they are getting world class healthcare in Arkansas. We are confident that when the people are heard on this issue, they will not allow individuals without medical degrees and without surgical residencies to jeopardize the precious eyesight of Arkansans.”

The legislation was signed into law in March. The procedures that it allows optometrists to perform include selective laser trabeculoplasty and Nd:YAG laser procedures, along with injections (excluding intravenous and intraocular), removal of lid lesions and chalazion incision and curettage.

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The bill called on the Arkansas Board of Optometry to establish credentialing requirements for optometrists to perform these laser procedures, as well as require those doctors to report the outcomes of their procedures to the board.

Vicki Farmer, executive director of the Arkansas Optometry Association, was quoted noting that Arkansas legislators “overwhelmingly approved this measure during the recent session, after listening to hours of testimony and debate, and learning optometrists in other states, like Oklahoma, have been safely performing these procedures for more than 20 years.”

Read more at Talk Business & Politics

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Eye Doctors Can Play a Key Role in Diagnosing Gut Disease

About 3.1 million people in the U.S. have IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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Optometrists can play an important role in helping patients who have inflammatory bowel disease, the American Optometric Association reports.

Inflammatory bowel disease can cause symptoms in the eye, which ODs can detect during during comprehensive eye examinations, according to a newly released AOA Health Policy Institute brief.

“Given that comprehensive eye examinations can lead to earlier, definitive diagnosis of IBD, patient outcomes improve with earlier treatment,” AOA reports.

“The clinical manifestations of common inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are not restricted to the gastrointestinal tract,” according to the Health Policy Institute brief. “IBDs have impact to other organs in a significant number of patients, including the eyes in 72.1 percent of patients with IBDs.”

The brief links IBD’s inflammation to a variety of ophthalmic conditions, including:

  • Episcleritis
  • Scleritis
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye)
  • Retinal edema
  • Optic neuritis (swelling of the optic nerve)
  • Extraocular muscle nerve palsies.

According to the brief, about 3.1 million people in the U.S. have IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

“Evaluation of the eye should be a routine component of care in patients with IBD just as it is with similar chronic co-morbid systemic conditions like diabetes,” according to the paper.

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Eye Health Firm Acquired in $800M Deal

The acquisition focuses on treatments for inherited retinal disorders.

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CAMBRIDGE, MA — Biogen announced that it has completed its acquisition of Nightstar Therapeutics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on treatments for inherited retinal disorders.

As a result of the acquisition, Biogen now has added two mid- to late-stage clinical assets, as well as preclinical programs, in ophthalmology, according to a press release.

The transaction value was about $800 million. Nightstar’s common stock will no longer be listed for trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

Nightstar is developing adeno-associated virus treatment. Its lead asset is NSR-REP1 for the treatment of choroideremia, a rare degenerative, X-linked inherited retinal disorder that leads to blindness and has no approved treatments. Initially, patients with choroideremia experience poor night vision, and over time progressive visual loss leads to complete blindness.

NSR-RPGR is Nightstar’s second clinical program for the treatment of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, which is also a rare inherited retinal disease primarily affecting males with no approved treatments. The disease leads to loss of photoreceptor cells, resulting in retinal dysfunction by adolescence and early adulthood, progressing to legal blindness when patients reach their 40s.

“Today marks a significant achievement for Biogen,” said Michel Vounatsos, Biogen’s CEO. “The acquisition of Nightstar further bolsters our pipeline and is an important step forward toward our goal of a multi-franchise portfolio across complementary modalities. We look forward to working now as one Biogen team with the goal of bringing breakthrough therapies to patients to slow or halt blindness across a range of inherited retinal diseases.”

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