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Expanding Scope of Optometry Could Save $4.6B a Year, Report Suggests

Avalon Health Economics released a study.

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A new report suggests that Americans could save at least $4.6 billion a year if states expanded their optometric scope of practice.

Avalon Health Economics released the study, titled “Optometry’s Essential and Expanding Role in Health Care: Assured Quality and Greater Access for Healthier Communities,” in the AOA House of Delegates during Optometry’s Meeting.

Researchers found that widespread optometric scope of practice expansion could “conservatively” add $600 million per year in transaction cost savings, along with $4 billion per year in savings connected to access-related improvements in health outcomes, AOA reports.

Study authors John Schneider and Cara Scheibling wrote that the numbers are “likely an underestimate” in that they don’t consider compounding factors, such as competition and a “multiplier effect” on local economies.

Other findings from the report:

  • 91% of Americans support laws that allow doctors of optometry to provide a full range of care that they are trained to provide.
  • 62% of Americans trust their doctor of optometry to provide their eye health and vision care, notably greater than the 26% who said the same of their primary care doctor, and statistically equivalent to the 64% who said the same of an ophthalmologist.
  • 96% of Americans say assured access to eye health and vision care is an essential priority, second only to overall access to primary care (97%).

According to the report: “Since 1998, state affiliates of the American Optometric Association have supported and played a positive role in enacting 62 laws in 47 states expanding optometric scope of practice, in turn, granting tens of millions of patients the ability to select doctors of optometry for their essential medical eye health and vision care.”

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AOA notes that four states — Alaska, Louisiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma — permit advanced surgical procedures, such as phototherapeutic keratectomy (PKT) laser eye surgery, YAG laser capsulotomy and trabeculoplasty, under their scope of practice acts. Arkansas only recently became the fifth state.

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Contact Lens Maker Acquired

The company sells the Extreme H2O product line.

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ROCHESTER, NY — Clerio Vision Inc., a developer of laser-based vision correction solutions, announced that it has acquired Hydrogel Vision Corp. (HVC).

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HVC, founded in 2002, is best known for its Extreme H2O product line and its “multiple differentiated offerings that personalize the contact lens wearing experience,” according to a press release. For example, HVC offers lenses in multiple diameters, with smaller lenses to more comfortably fit those with smaller corneas or narrower eyelids, and larger lenses for those with larger corneas or for improved sports performance.

“As Clerio began preparations for its first contact lens offering, we quickly identified HVC as a best-in-class manufacturing partner,” said Alex Zapesochny, co-CEO of Clerio Vision. “We are thrilled to have now fully joined forces with HVC and to further build on its history of offering innovative products of the highest quality.”

HVC contacts are also made from a proprietary ultra-hydrating material that retains up to 99% of its moisture, “which can help to minimize the dryness and itchiness that is often experienced by contact lens wearers late in the day, and may be especially helpful to those who work a lot with screens or live in dryer climates,” according to the release. HVC also distributes the only disposable opaque color contacts for those with astigmatism.

Clerio was founded in 2014 to commercialize breakthrough femtosecond laser research at the University of Rochester. The company’s technology enables the laser writing of unique patterns into contact lenses that optimize visual acuity, including superior correction at both far and near distances for those with presbyopia. Clerio’s multifocal contact lens product is currently in clinical development and is expected to be on the market in the next 18 months.

HVC products are sold in 25 countries, either under the Extreme H2O brand or under one of several private label arrangements. All HVC employees will be retained and its manufacturing and fulfillment activities will continue to be carried out in its locations in Sarasota, FL.

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Shopko Optical Now Has 12 Freestanding Locations

It also announced appointments to its leadership team.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Shopko Optical announced that it continues the relocation of 80 optical centers into freestanding locations.

To date, Shopko Optical has opened 12 stand-alone locations, with an additional 12 locations slated to be relocated from their former Shopko store locations by early August.

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The remainder of the store locations are scheduled to open throughout the summer and fall of 2019. Shopko Optical will base its headquarters in Green Bay and will employ 40 people on its corporate team.

In May, Monarch Alternative Capital LP announced the completion of its acquisition of Shopko Optical. Shopko was a retail chain that announced plans plans to wind down its operations.

Shopko Optical has also announced several appointments to its leadership team.

Jim Eisen, who is serving as interim CEO, is helping to lead the company through its transition. Eisen, whose role was officially announced earlier this year, was previously the president of Visionworks. Eisen is joined by Shopko Optical veterans, as well as some new additions to the leadership team.

Kirk Lauterback, a 25-year Shopko Optical veteran, has been named vice president of optical operations and will oversee merchandising, as well as the company’s retail optical centers, and its manufacturing facility in DePere, WI.

Dr. Thomas Bobka will continue to serve as director of optometry services. Bobka has been with Shopko Optical for over 20 years and will serve as the doctor liaison and support optometrist practice management.

“We are excited to bring together a strong group of individuals with a demonstrated track record of strategic leadership that supports the care of our patients, customers, and our teammates,” Eisen said.

Additions to the Shopko Optical leadership team are Donna Capichano who will serve as vice president of store development; Cindy Moen, who will serve as the vice president of human resources; and Cathleen Stewart, who will serve as vice president of marketing.

Capichano has 25 years of retail real estate development experience in both big-box and specialty retail and is transitioning to Shopko Optical from her former position with Shopko Stores Operating Co. Moen is also transitioning from Shopko, where she spent the past 12 years leading HR business teams in the stores and corporate office. Stewart joins the Shopko Optical team from Batteries Plus. She brings 15 years of experience developing and leading strategic marketing programs.

“We have worked to build an organization that serves our optical centers the way our doctors and opticians serve our patients and customers in our communities across the country: with clinical expertise, personal attention, quality and integrity. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Shopko Optical family,” said Eisen.

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Online Eyewear Firm Opens More Brick-and-Mortar Stores

It now has 7 locations.

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Minneapolis-based Eyebobs, which started as an online retailer, has opened its seventh bricks-and-mortar location.

The newest store is at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD, Chain Store Age reports. It’s the fourth location to open this year.

Mike Hollenstein, CEO of the company, told Chain Store Age that other locations are under consideration.

“Eyebobs is dedicated to helping every customer frame their personality and be their true and authentic selves. Shopping should be a fun experience and we can’t wait to better serve our customers in the Washington, D.C., market with this new store,” he was quoted saying.

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INVISION reported on Eyebobs last year, when it announced plans for two stores: one in the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the other in Orlando, FL.

For years after its founding in 2001, the company concentrated on stylish reading glasses. It began selling prescription eyewear in 2017.

Read more at Chain Store Age

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