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Eyes on New York Awards to Honor Regeneron for Innovation

It is the first Eyes on Innovation Award.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – Regeneron, a biotechnology company, will receive the 2019 Eyes on Innovation Award during the 16th annual Eyes on New York Awards Celebration at Cipriani 42 in New York City on Friday, March 22.

The gala is the signature event of the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), the affiliated foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry. Proceeds from the evening will directly support patient care, scholarships and research at the college.

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Regeneron invents life-transforming medicines, improves the drug development process through its proprietary technologies and advances science through its research initiatives, including the Regeneron Genetics Center, which is one of the leading genomics efforts in the world.

“Regeneron is honored to receive the first-ever Eyes on Innovation Award from the Optometric Center of New York,” said Dr. Robert Vitti, the company’s vice president of clinical sciences for ophthalmology. “We are deeply committed to continuing our research to bring new innovations to patients in need.”

Founded in 1988 and led for three decades by physician-scientists Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer, president and CEO, and Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer, the Tarrytown, NY-headquartered company has a robust internally discovered and developed product pipeline which has led to seven FDA-approved treatments and more than 20 investigational candidates.

EYLEA (aflibercept) Injection is indicated for diseases of the retina – wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema (DME) or diabetic retinopathy in DME and macular edema following retinal vein occlusion. “Losing vision to a retinal disease can be devastating, a reality that optometrists know far too well as the ones often on the frontlines of diagnosis,” Vitti said.

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Beyond its team of more than 7,500 people, Regeneron also focuses on fostering the next generation of scientific innovators. The company supports STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives for promising young minds, particularly the Regeneron Science Talent Search for high-school-aged scientists.

“Regeneron is an exceptional example of SUNY Optometry’s institutional values, particularly leadership, inquiry and innovation,” said OCNY Executive Director Dawn Rigney. “The company has made significant contributions to the biotech industry and biomedical research and we look forward to honoring them in March.”

Drs. Susan and Mark Fromer of Fromer Eye Centers will receive the 2019 Eyes on Leadership Award during the celebration and Dr. Max Gomez, senior medical correspondent for WCBS-TV, will serve as master of ceremonies.

More than 270 attendees supported last year’s event. For additional information, visit www.sunyopt.edu/gala

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Academy 2019 Orlando and 3rd World Congress of Optometry Education Program Announced

This joint meeting will offer CE courses and research in the clinical and vision sciences.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ORLANDO and ST. LOUIS – The World Council of Optometry and the American Academy of Optometry have partnered to present an education program taking place at Academy 2019 Orlando and the 3rd World Congress of Optometry, Oct. 23-27, 2019. This joint meeting will bring global optometry together to offer CE courses and research in the clinical and vision sciences. Attendees from around the globe can choose from over 450 hours of lectures and workshops, Section and Special Interest Group symposia, hundreds of scientific papers and posters, an expansive exhibit hall, and several social events featuring international optometry.

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This year’s plenary session from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Oct. 23, is titled, “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice: WHO World Report on Vision, Opportunities for Optometry to Make an Impact,” and will discuss the World Report on Vision on the distribution of eye disease and blindness across the globe and the disease burden these eye conditions pose on nations and regions. Additionally, the human resource requirements of eyecare providers needed to address this public health crisis will be covered. Optometric representatives, specifically the session speakers, played an instrumental role in developing the report. They will discuss the findings and their implications for optometry internationally and for North America respectively. The keynote speaker from WHO will give attendees an overview of the organization’s efforts to tackle the extensive disease and blindness burdens on society throughout the world and where optometry fits into this effort. Speakers include Kovin Naidoo, OD, PhD, FAAO, Sandra Block, OD, MPH, FAAO, and a speaker from the World Health Organization.

The Monroe J. Hirsch Research Symposium is titled “Gene Therapy for Ocular and Neurologic Disorders.” Contemporary issues in gene therapy will be discussed including Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, animal models of glaucoma, and Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Speakers will include Stephen Russell, MD, Abbott Clark, PhD, and Byron Lam, MD.

Ezell Fellows Present is a symposium where three investigators at different stages of their careers, who were supported early on through the Foundation’s Ezell Fellowships, present their research. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the symposium and is titled “Public Health / Epidemiology Potpourri.” Included in this session will be discussions on anterior segment infectious eye disease and US national health datasets used to assess vision impairment. Speakers will be Nicole Carnt, BOptom, PhD, FAAO, Charlotte Joslin, OD, PhD, FAAO, and Dean VanNasdale, OD, PhD, FAAO.

The World Council of Optometry President’s Forum is titled “Optometry’s Role in Addressing the Changing Face of Technology, Public Health and Clinical care.” This invitation-only event provides a platform wherein the highest level of decision makers and key partners of our profession come together to discuss the current development of optometry and the desired impact that it envisages in the broader health agenda across the world.

The Global Summit on Optometric Education, co-sponsored by the World Council of Optometry, American Academy of Optometry, and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, will provide educators from optometric educational programs from around the globe the opportunity to share education philosophies/teaching methods and to discuss challenges facing institutions.

The meeting will take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Registration and housing open on May 6. For more information, visit www.aaopt.org/2019 or www.worldcongressofoptometry.org.

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NCCVEH Names First Partners in “Better Vision Together- Community of Practice” Program

The goal of this three year project is to improve vision and eye health in at-risk, minority, and vulnerable populations of young children.

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(PRESS RELEASE) CHICAGO – The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH) is celebrating its 10 year anniversary by announcing the first partners of its “Better Vision Together- Community of Practice” program. The goal of this three year project is to improve vision and eye health in at-risk, minority, and vulnerable populations of young children.

The NCCVEH will work with selected groups to implement actions and solutions anchored in population health strategies through a peer-support approach, including policy change, systems of vision and eye health, public awareness, and data collection. Eight groups from across the country were selected to work with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau-funded project led by the NCCVEH.

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Selected community/state teams include:

  • Overgaard Ponderosa Vision Screening Program, Overgaard Ponderosa Lions Club and Foundation- Overgaard, Ariz.
  • Eyes on Learning, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust- Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Better Vision Together San Francisco, University of California, San Francisco- San Francisco, Calif.
  • Amblyopia Elimination Project, Naples Lions Club Foundation- Naples, Fla.
  • Eyedaho Vision Team, Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind- Gooding, Idaho
  • Haverhill Promise of Children’s Vision, Haverhill Public Schools and Haverhill Promise- Haverhill, Mass.
  • Improving Childhood Vision Health Task Force, Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Early Childhood Education- Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Texas Children’s Vision Coalition, Prevent Blindness Texas- Houston, Texas

At-risk, minority, and vulnerable children ages birth through 5 years are targeted for improved children’s vision care systems. The selected teams work with children and families from African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities in rural and urban areas as well as American Indian reservations. Additionally, several teams will serve immigrants and refugees from such countries as Iraq, Congo, Burma, Somalia, Afghanistan and Laos as well as migrant agricultural worker families.

In 2009, the NCCVEH was established to develop a coordinated public health infrastructure to promote and ensure a comprehensive, multi-tiered continuum of vision care for young children. The NCCVEH continues to work with leading, volunteer advocates and professionals in ophthalmology, optometry, pediatrics, public health, and related fields, to review the current scientific literature, explore best practices, establish partnerships, develop data, and gain consensus on the best approach to children’s vision and eye health.

Better Vision Together is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H7MMC24738. The total award amount for the “Vision Screening in Young Children” grant is $299,999 (percentage financed with nongovernmental sources .5%). This information or content and conclusions are those of the NCCVEH and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

“Through the new Better Vision Together- Community of Practice program, we can continue our mission to provide our children with the best opportunities for healthy vision, school readiness and more,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “Our team is eager to work closely with all of our new partners to determine the most effective ways to improve vision services and hopefully expand and apply the best practices to all children across the country.”

For more information about the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness, or the Better Vision Together- Community of Practice program, please visit https://nationalcenter.preventblindness.org/better-vision-together or contact Donna Fishman at or (800) 331-2020 or dfishman@preventblindness.org.

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APS Members Brief Congressional Offices on Concerns Regarding Robocalls & Substitution of Contact Lenses

They visited nearly a dozen congressional offices.

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(PRESS RELEASE) WASHINGTON – Members of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) visited nearly a dozen congressional offices. During these meetings, APS advocates briefed Members of Congress and their staffs on problems that vision care patients face including online sellers’ problematic use of robocalls and the medical dangers and safety threats posed by the substitution of lenses that have not been prescribed to a patient.

The 2004 Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act requires that all third-party sellers must verify prescriptions with an eye doctor and fill the prescription as written. However, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Contact Lens Rule allows verification to be done via robocalls. Oftentimes, information relayed in these robocalls is garbled or do not align with a patient’s chart—making it difficult, or even impossible, to correctly identify the patient and proper prescription.

More than 45 million Americans rely on contact lenses – U.S. Food and Drug Administration Class II and Class III regulated medical devices – for safe and effective vision correction. Contact lenses are more complex than they appear, having differing shapes, strengths, and water contents. There are no generics. Substitution of lenses not as prescribed by the patient’s doctor can lead to serious health complications, including infections and other sight-threatening conditions, such as corneal edema, ulcers, and neovascularization.

Dr. Deanna Alexander, chairwoman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, said, “Access to contact lenses should be fair and safe for patients while preserving the doctor-patient relationship, just as Congress intended. The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety is committed to working with lawmakers and regulators to address the FTC Contact Lens Rule verification loophole that puts patients’ eye health and safety at risk.”

The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety has made it a priority to close loopholes within the existing verification process and prevent the dangerous sale of counterfeit lenses and the substitution of lenses to reduce the risk of preventable vision loss.

The Alliance was founded in 2018 to advocate for patient safety and to protect and defend the doctor-patient relationship – the essential foundation of personalized health care decision making. For more information, please visit www.PatientSafetyToday.com.

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