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Jim McGrann Named VSP Global President/CEO, Effective October 1

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(Press Release) VSP Global, the nation’s largest healthcare organization by membership, has named Jim McGrann, current VSP Vision Care President, as President and CEO of VSP Global, effective October 1, 2015. McGrann will succeed Rob Lynch who has served as CEO since 2006.

Following over three years in his role as President of VSP Vision Care, the nation’s largest vision insurance provider, McGrann oversaw the growth of VSP’s membership from 56 million to 75 million.

McGrann also facilitated the expansion of VSP’s insurance offerings into Great Britain and Ireland. Additionally under McGrann’s leadership revenue for the Vision Care division grew from $3.2 billion to a projected $4 billion by year end.

“Rob Lynch has been a transformational leader for VSP. He retires having laid a strong foundation for the future of our company and I am pleased that he will be continuing as a member of our Board of Directors,” said Randy Lee, O.D. and VSP Global Chairman of the Board.

“Jim McGrann has a clear vision for the future of VSP and the board is unanimously confident that he will maximize the opportunities that lay before us. Jim’s focus on integration and capitalizing on the synergies of each of the divisions will yield tremendous benefits to our panel members, our clients and, most importantly for our 75+ million members.”

Prior to joining VSP Global in 2008 as President of Eyefinity, McGrann served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for nine years at Marchon Eyewear, Inc.

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In 2010, he became VSP Global’s Chief Technology Officer and Chief Executive Officer for Eyefinity. In 2012, he became President of VSP Vision Care. Before joining Marchon, Jim spent fifteen years as a management consultant and partner for Andersen Consulting, Price Waterhouse Coopers, IBM Global Services and Ernst & Young.

McGrann has been a catalyst for change within VSP Global, leading key initiatives, including: web-based sales force automation, SAP implementation, supporting the development of a centralized European Distribution Center that consolidated seven operating units, and implementing IT governance and program management best practices.

“To ensure the continued success of any company, succession planning is a necessity and Jim was identified early on as a strong candidate to one day assume the responsibilities of this job,” said Rob Lynch, outgoing President and CEO of VSP Global. “I am confident that Jim McGrann is the right leader at the right time with the right expertise to continue VSP’s growth for years to come.”

McGrann assumes the role of a more diversified company than the VSP Lynch took the reins of in 2006. Lynch oversaw the evolution of VSP into a vertically integrated global company by executing on more than 30 different acquisitions.

Marchon Eyewear, Inc., the world’s third-largest manufacturer and distributor of eyewear, marked the largest of those acquisitions, but other key components of the new VSP include: a unified network of laboratories that has evolved from two in 2006 to the 14 VSP has today as well as the addition of AcuityLogic, a practice management solution that moved Eyefinity into cloud computing in 2010. Lynch departs his management role within VSP Global having guided the company to becoming a projected $5 billion revenue company by year end.

“Since 2006, Rob has doubled VSP’s revenue while also remaining committed to the company’s mission of helping people see by nearly tripling the number of low-income and uninsured children and adults who have received free eyecare and eyewear to the over 940,000 today,” said Jim McGrann, VSP Global’s President and CEO-elect.

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“From this position of strength, I look forward to further delivering on that mission and continuing to reimagine how eye care and eyewear are delivered for years to come around the world.”

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Press Releases

CooperVision Names Senior Brand Marketing Director for Myopia Management in North America

She has more than 20 years of professional experience in the healthcare space.

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Jane Agbontaen

(PRESS RELEASE) SAN RAMON, CA — CooperVision has named Jane Agbontaen as senior brand director for Myopia Management – Americas. In this newly created role, Agbontaen will be responsible for the strategic planning and execution of all activities that support the U.S. growth of CooperVision’s myopia management portfolio, specifically the Brilliant Futures Myopia Management Program with MiSight 1 day, the first and only FDA-approved product1 clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia when initially prescribed for children 8-12 years old in the U.S.

Agbontaen’s role includes cross-functional and cross-business support to ensure CooperVision’s MiSight 1 day commercialization strategy is successful. Growing the portfolio includes touchpoints with eyecare practitioners and patients, as well as healthcare and legislative ecosystems that govern children’s health and wellness.

“With the FDA approval of MiSight and the impending roll out of our Brilliant Futures Myopia Management Program, we require an evolution of our sales and marketing approach as we take on the rising epidemic of childhood myopia. Going forward, broadening our scope of healthcare provider alliances and industry partnerships are essential elements of shaping the standard of care in myopia management,” said Simon Seshadri, vice president of marketing at CooperVision, North America. “Jane’s previous experiences and skills are a perfect fit for this role and to help us achieve our desired outcomes. I’m delighted to have her onboard.”

Agbontaen has more than 20 years of professional experience in the healthcare space and with large medical device players such as Hologic, Abbot Medical Optics and Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes. While at Abbot Medical Optics, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care during her tenure, Agbontaen managed a broad brand portfolio in the cataracts segment, including intraocular lenses and instruments. Agbontaen received her bachelor’s degree from Long Island University and her MBA from the Stern School at New York University.

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OGI Eyewear Names Chief Creative Officer

He will not only lead creative development but will also serve as partner.

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(PRESS RELEASE) OGI Eyewear, a member of The Optical Foundry, announces the appointment of David Duralde as chief creative officer. Duralde has joined the company not only to lead creative development but also as a partner.

Duralde’s distinguished optical career is marked by extensive experience both with licensed and independent brands, including his most recent role as Chief Creative Officer at Kenmark Eyewear. “I am very excited about the opportunity to redefine and reinvigorate the niche independent brands in the OGI portfolio of products and provide a consistent, compelling story to the brands. I can’t wait to get started with the OGI
Eyewear product and marketing teams to connect deeply with our loyal customers, create frames that light up many more faces and help independent practices thrive and shine in this vigorously changing market.” said Duralde.

Robert Rich, CEO of OGI, notes, “David is exactly the right person to lead us in the revitalization of our brand portfolio. Despite a solid market position, OGI and its family of brands will benefit from an injection of fresh ideas and design innovations that will expand our leading role in the realm of affordable luxury frames.”

Rich adds, “This is a homecoming of sorts for David, having begun his formative optical design training at l.a.Eyeworks, another member of the Optical Foundry.”

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First US Patient Gets Wireless Retinal Device Implant

It’s aimed at restoring partial sight to patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration.

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(PRESS RELEASE) PITTSBURGH – UPMC has implanted the first patient in the U.S. with a new wireless retinal device as part of a clinical trial aimed at restoring partial sight to patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration.

“Vision research has advanced dramatically in the recent past and UPMC is at the forefront of this revolution. This is the first of many such breakthroughs led by UPMC and Pitt that will benefit patients with vision loss in our community and around the world,” said José-Alain Sahel, MD, director of the UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Foundation chair of ophthalmology and distinguished professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who initiated the trial at UPMC. “We are proud to be the first center in the United States to test this next generation retinal implant that could help treat an incurable disease like AMD.”

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The system, called PRIMA, is designed to restore sight in patients blinded by retinal degeneration. It consists of a 2 millimeter-by-2 millimeter, 30-micron thick miniaturized wireless photovoltaic chip placed under the damaged retina. It works in tandem with augmented reality glasses that have a built-in miniaturized camera and infrared projector.

The chip acts like a tiny artificial retina, made up of 378 tiny electrodes that convert infrared light from the glasses to electrical signals that are carried by the optic nerve to the brain. After receiving the implant, patients undergo an intensive rehabilitation program that trains their brains to understand and interpret the signals from the implant in combination with their remaining natural vision. Compared to earlier-generation implants, PRIMA is wireless and has significantly more electrodes, which allows for the transmission of more visual information.

“This is an incredibly exciting first for us at UPMC and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Joseph Martel, MD, the implanting surgeon at the UPMC Eye Center and the Pitt School of Medicine, and the principal investigator of the trial at UPMC. “I’m grateful to our patients who have volunteered to participate in this trial, without whom this would not be possible.”

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 50. Today, it affects approximately 14 million people in the United States, and the prevalence is expected to rise as the baby boomers age. As AMD progresses, the center of vision becomes increasingly blurry. “Atrophic” AMD, which accounts for a large proportion of advanced cases, has no curative treatment available.

The UPMC feasibility trial is running in parallel with the first-in-human trial in France, which involves five patients with advanced AMD, who now have been followed for more than a year. The 12-month results from the French study demonstrated the ability of most patients to identify sequences of letters and there were no device-related serious adverse effects.

“We are working with a great sense of urgency because the aging population of the United States, especially the western Pennsylvania region we live in, will see a significant rise in the number of patients at risk for vision loss through diseases like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and vascular eye disease, as well as earlier onset genetic conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa,” said Sahel. “This is why our physicians and researchers at UPMC and Pitt, in collaboration with our U.S. and international colleagues — especially at the Paris Vision Institute at Sorbonne University — are taking a multi-pronged effort to treat and rehabilitate patients with vision impairments.”

In March 2019, UPMC broke ground on the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Tower at UPMC Mercy, which when completed, will provide advanced specialty clinical care and innovative programs for visually impaired patients. It also will be the home for the vision research program at Pitt and UPMC.

The PRIMA implant was invented by Daniel Palanker, professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, and licensed and developed by Pixium Vision, a spin-off from the Paris Vision Institute. Sahel is a co-founder of Pixium and holds shares in the company.

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