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House Subcommittee Urges FTC to Modernize Contact Lens Verification Process

Patient safety advocates have repeatedly called attention to flaws in current rules related to prescription verification.

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(PRESS RELEASE) WASHINGTON – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (Alliance) this week expressed its support of the House Committee on Appropriations for urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update the process by which contact lens prescriptions are verified.

The Committee report, which accompanies the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill, comes as the FTC is accepting additional public comments on the proposed Contact Lens Rule. Patient safety advocates have repeatedly called attention to flaws in current rules related to prescription verification.

The FSGG report, which can be read here, states:

Contact Lenses. — In May, the FTC released a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking detailing potential adjustments to its proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule. This ensures that the FTC will receive additional input from the public and stakeholders on potential improvements to the rule to address patient safety and enforcement mechanisms, among other issues. The Committee urges the FTC to address the need for the prescription verification process to be modernized to provide for adequate enforcement of the law.

Thomas Swinnen, North America President of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and member of the Alliance, stated, “This report language reflects the importance of amplifying patient eye health and safety issues with policymakers. We’re pleased that the Committee recognizes the need to modernize the prescription verification process—a critical step in maintaining the doctor-patient relationship at the center of patient care.”

For several years, Alliance members and patient safety advocates have called for updated verification methods that would ensure patients receive the proper medical devices they were prescribed by their eye care professional.

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In 2018, the Alliance submitted comments to the FTC that highlighted the problems with the current prescription verification system. The comments read, in part, “FTC action to modernize its guidance around passive-verification communication while excluding antiquated technology (e.g. robocalls) would provide greater documentation and the possibility of greater oversight in the [prescription] verification process. Greater oversight, understanding and documentation will ultimately create a safer and more efficient environment for contact lens wearers and the verification of their prescriptions through clearer, concise and accurate communication between the prescriber and the seller.”

“The doctor-patient relationship is central to the widespread enjoyment of contact lenses. A key part of that equation is ensuring what was prescribed is ultimately provided, as each contact lens is precisely selected for a patient’s specific vision and health needs,” said Michele Andrews, OD, Senior Director, North American Professional & Academic Affairs, CooperVision. “We are committed to advancing healthy contact lens wear for millions of consumers and encourage the FTC to share in this responsibility by addressing and fixing outmoded verification techniques.”

The Alliance encourages patients to share their stories of how antiquated technology in the prescription verification process has been detrimental to their vision health. To share your story and tell the FTC to protect patient safety, visit www.PatientSafetyToday.com/Share_Your_Story.

Deanna Alexander, OD, chairwoman of the Alliance, concluded, “For a significant period of time, patient safety advocates, like the members of the Alliance, have shared the potential dangers that could stem from the FTC’s current rules related to contact lens prescription verification. Now, as Congress makes it clear that they believe it’s time for a verification system that protects patients’ vision health, the Alliance is hopeful that the FTC will carefully consider adjustments to the Contact Lens Rule to better safeguard patients.”

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Press Releases

SKYGEN International Foundation Celebrates Anniversary

It has completed more than 72,000 vision tests in Tanzania.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MENOMONEE FALLS, WI – The SKYGEN International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the healthcare benefits technology and administration company SKYGEN USA, celebrates a year of achievement and growth in its effort to provide vision services throughout underserved communities in Tanzania. Since July 2018, this non-profit organization provided more than 72,000 Tanzanians with vision tests and distributed more than 19,000 pairs of free prescription glasses and will expand its reach to more regions of the East African country in the coming months.

Craig Kasten, SKYGEN USA CEO and managing partner, and Greg Borca, co-founder of SKYGEN USA, advocated for the creation of the foundation in 2017 after a trip to Tanzania by Kasten shed light on the nearly nonexistent eye care in many regions of the country. Kasten gained the first-hand experience on the negative impact the lack of care had on schools within the communities.

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“There is an average of four eye doctors for every 2 million people in Tanzania,” says Kasten. “This past year has been extremely successful. We have expanded our capabilities to provide glasses to those in need, and we continue to see more students and community members receiving eye care that was not possible a year ago.”

On July 9, 2018, a team from SKYGEN International Foundation, led by executive director Lisa Sweeney, traveled to the Meru region of Tanzania to begin the groundwork for the project — the first of its kind for the SKYGEN USA group. Since then, the foundation has provided tens of thousands of locals with vision tests and provided more than 19,000 pairs of glasses; of those tested, over 50,000 are students and 2,300 are teachers. The glasses are built to each person’s specific prescription and in most cases delivered on the day of the test. In May alone, 11,000 people received vision tests, making it the organization’s most successful month to date. For students, the work the Foundation is doing means creating more opportunities for a better life. For adults and elders, it means restoring dignity and allowing them to lead richer, more fulfilling lives.

The foundation has consistently delivered life-changing healthcare benefits to those without access and makes it a priority to utilize its Enterprise System vision platform to maintain a record of those who have utilized the now-available eye care services. Because of its efforts, SKYGEN International Foundation recently received the Platinum Seal of Transparency award from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. The top-tier award is given to organizations with high transparency and accuracy in regard to its reported results, overview of the organization and insight on the communities it serves.

“This award is a sign that we are moving in the right direction with the transparency of our work within the philanthropic community,” states Sweeney. “After providing thousands of people with access to eye care, I am eager to see the foundation continue as it begins providing services to more regions of Tanzania and beyond.”

On top of school visits, the foundation regularly conducts vision tests at clinics where locals can receive vision tests and prescription glasses. Previously, these efforts have focused on the Meru region of Tanzania. The foundation has recently expanded into the Arusha region, an area that can substantially benefit from accessible eye care. Following the anniversary, on August 18, 2019, a team will revisit the regions to build on its efforts, work with the local Tanzanian team and secure partnerships.

To learn more about the SKYGEN International Foundation, see current results and/or donate to the foundation, visit https://skygenfoundation.org.

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Press Releases

Essilor of America Celebrates Launch of Transitions Signature Gen 8

It comes with the introduction of the ‘Essilor Next Gen’ buy one, get one offer.

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(PRESS RELEASE) DALLAS, TX – Essilor of America kicked off back-to-school season with the launch of the Essilor Next GEN Offer, a consumer promotion designed to enable eyecare professionals to recommend the new Transitions Signature GEN 8T lenses to more patients and increase overall practice revenue while providing patients with their best vision possible. From July 10 through Dec. 31, 2019, when patients purchase Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses with select Essilor lenses from participating practices, they can receive a free bonus pair of clear, qualifying lenses with frame purchase.

Engineered with proprietary technology, Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses, the best overall photochromic lenses, provide all of the benefits patients want: protection, outdoor darkness, full indoor clarity, responsiveness and long-lasting performance with improved activation and fade back speed. In fact, 9 out of 10 Transitions lens wearers are satisfied and would repurchase.

The Essilor Next GEN Offer allows patients to customize their lenses to best fit their vision needs. When they purchase Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses with any Crizal, they can choose between Varilux X Series T, Eyezen + or Essilor Single Vision lenses to qualify for a free pair of lenses with the offer2. For their free clear pair, patients can select any Crizal on any Varilux, Eyezen+ or Essilor Single Vision lenses.

“The Essilor Next GEN Offer will provide our customers a powerful incentive to increase trial of Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses with all patients. We have designed the offer so that patients can choose from any single vision lenses with Crizal and Transitions Signature GEN 8, to ensure that our customers have a compelling tool to win during the critical back-to-school season,” says Sherianne James, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Essilor of America. “We don’t want our customers to miss out on the opportunity with single vision wearers and we want them to recognize that many single vision patients desire their guidance and expertise. They trust their eyecare professionals to recommend the best lenses for them and with this offer, they can feel confident to introduce them to a superior photochromic experience and our best-in-class brands at an incredible value.”

In an effort to amplify awareness of the Essilor Next GEN Offer and generate patient traffic for its eyecare provider partners, Essilor will launch an extensive consumer advertising campaign consisting of national TV, connected TV, digital advertising including video and display ads, in-store advertising, and geo-targeted and smart search ads.

“From our advertising investment to our compelling promotion, we will bring Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses to more consumers of all ages. We are committed to delivering exceptional support to our partners to deliver the best patient experience in the market,” James adds.

Any qualifying eyecare practice is eligible to participate in the Essilor Next GEN Offer. To participate, eyecare professionals must enroll their practice at MyEssilorLabs.com, PartnershipRewardsPortal.com, MyIDDLabs.com and/or Nassau247.com. Enrollment started June 3 and ends Dec. 30, 2019. Promotion period is July 10 (or enrollment date, whichever is later) until Dec. 31, 2019. Visit EssilorUSA.com for more details, full terms and conditions.

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Press Releases

ABB Optical Announces New Board Member

His career in the optical industry spans more than 25 years.

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John Weber

(PRESS RELEASE) CORAL SPRINGS, FL – ABB Optical Group, a national provider of optical products and business services for the eyecare industry, announced that John Weber has joined the its board of directors.

Weber’s career in the optical industry spans more than 25 years. He most recently served as chief commercial officer for Hoya Vision. Prior to that, he served as the chief executive officer of Vision-Ease Lens and previously held a number of senior leadership roles within CooperVision, Inc., culminating in his role as president.

“John has extensive experience in the eye care industry and will provide fresh insights as we continue to execute on our customer-centric strategy and vision for the future,” said ABB Optical CEO Tom Burke. “We share a strong passion for enhancing the customer experience for both eye care practitioners and patients, and I believe he will be an outstanding addition to our board.”

A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in economics, Weber also holds an MBA from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, and was a captain in the U.S. Army.

“I am excited to work alongside the leadership team to enhance ABB OPTICAL’s role in the optical marketplace,” said Weber. “I look forward to helping the company achieve its full potential as it continues to scale and grow its offerings to deliver best-in-class business solutions for eye care practitioners, thereby enabling them to provide the best care to their patients.”

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