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Optometrists Form Group to Protect Newly Won Privileges

It’s a ‘ballot question committee to educate voters.’

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Optometrists in Arkansas are organizing to fend off an initiative by ophthalmologists to undo recent legislation, the Arkansas Times reports.

The legislation, signed into law in March, permits optometrists to perform certain surgeries. But Safe Surgery Arkansas, a group of medical doctors, is trying to use a ballot referendum to roll back the legislation.

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Enter Arkansans for Healthy Eyes, which describes itself as “a ballot question committee to educate voters about the improved eye care options available to Arkansans under Act 579 of the 2019 legislative session.”

“Act 579 gives Arkansas patients better access to quality care by allowing optometrists to perform more of the procedures we are absolutely qualified to safely perform,” Dr. Belinda Starkey, an Arkansas optometrist and member of the Arkansans for Healthy Eyes committee, said in a press release announcing the formation of the group.

“Despite the fear tactics being used by opponents, we are actually only talking about a handful of minimally invasive procedures, done right in your optometrist’s chair, and without the need for general anesthesia.”

Amanda Story, spokesperson for Arkansans for Healthy Eyes, said: “The other side claims Arkansans’ eye health is at stake if Act 579 goes into effect, but the truth is, the eye health of Arkansas patients will suffer if this law doesn’t go into effect. For some patients, especially in rural parts of the state, being able to receive enhanced care from their optometrist, instead of having to go through the wait, travel, and added cost of a specialist visit, may mean the difference between getting a needed procedure, or going without.”

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The Times reports that in order to qualify for the ballot, the ophthalmologists’ group will need the signatures of 54,000 registered voters by July 23.

R. Scott Lowery, president of the Arkansas Ophthalmological Society, has been 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.”

Procedures that the legislation 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.

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.

Read more at Arkansas Times

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Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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These Eyeglasses Block Facial Recognition Technology (VIDEO)

They’re called IRpair and Phantom.

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Chicago startup firm Reflectacles is creating eyeglasses to thwart facial recognition technology, Chicago Inno reports.

The company is raising money via Kickstarter for its latest products, called IRpair and Phantom. They’re expected to be delivered in April.

Chicago Inno reports that they “block 3D infrared facial mapping during both day and night and block 2D video algorithm-based facial recognition on cameras with infrared for illumination.”

Company founder founder Scott Urban says he’s heard from people in other countries who want to stay out of facial recognition data banks while participating in protests.

So far, about $34,000 has been pledged on Kickstarter from 193 backers.

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Optical Product Firm Looks North to a Whole New Market

It will distribute contact lenses in Canada.

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CORAL SPRINGS, FL – ABB Optical Group, a provider of optical products and business solutions in the eyecare industry, announced its expansion into the Canadian market.

Beginning in 2020, ABB Optical will distribute contact lenses in Canada, starting with servicing FYidoctors, Canada’s largest doctor-owned provider of eyecare and ophthalmic products and services, and Independent Alliance clinics.

The company stated in a press release: “According to ABB OPTICAL’s market intelligence, eye care professionals in Canada have not had the opportunity to benefit from contact lens consolidation and business management best practices with one distributor – a common model in the United States which provides efficiency, cost savings, and better, faster service for practices and patients.”

“We are excited about our expansion into the Canadian market and look forward to serving the country’s eye care professionals,” said ABB Optical CEO Tom Burke. “We have seen time and time again that efficient contact lens supply chain management can help improve patient care. Benefits to a practice include lowered costs, administrative time savings and improved turn-around time for patients to receive their lenses.”

Burke added that ABB Optical’s expansion into Canada also benefits the Canadian economy, stating, “In addition to servicing eye care professionals, we’re excited to be making a substantial economic investment in Canada. ABB OPTICAL will operate its own Canadian distribution center which will house inventory, and our expanded business will provide job opportunities for Canadians.”

FYidoctors’ CEO and Chairman Dr. Alan Ulsifer said, “ABB’s entrance into Canada will bring incredible benefits to Canadian optometrists. The company’s proven systems of single source ordering, direct to patient delivery, and business solutions and services will help Canadian optometrists thrive in a market that continues to be challenging. We are very excited and proud to be their first customers.”

ABB Optical noted that it “also offers other business solutions for the optical industry that could benefit Canadian eye care professionals in the future, such as lens fabrication, ophthalmic lens distribution, frames distribution, practice development strategies, a data and analytics platform, and gas permeable contact lens manufacturing.”

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89-Location Optometry Network Acquired

It operates in Arizona and Florida.

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ST. LOUIS – EyeCare Partners LLC, a network of medical optometry and ophthalmology practices, announced that it has completed the acquisition of Nationwide Vision, a full-service vision care provider.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition “continues to strengthen ECP’s network of free-standing optometric offices in fast-growing regional markets,” according to a press release.

Nationwide, headquartered in Chandler, AZ, operates 89 optometry offices throughout Arizona and Florida offering eyecare services and eyewear products. The company has over 780 employees, including full-time optometrists who perform more than 250,000 comprehensive exams annually.

“Nationwide is exceptionally well respected in Arizona and Florida, where its premier eye health services, consistent value and broad assortment of fashionable eyewear are experiencing strong demand from existing and new customers,” said Kelly McCrann, CEO of ECP. “We are thrilled Nationwide’s entire team, and especially its leader Al Bernstein, has joined ECP. We look forward to leveraging Nationwide’s deep experience with managed vision plans to help expand ECP into new markets.”

Bernstein said, “All of us at Nationwide Vision are excited about our opportunity to partner with EyeCare Partners. ECP has a reputation for being a superb business partner and we are eager to leverage its capabilities to pursue expansive growth in Arizona and Florida, two of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S.”
With 12 optometric and ophthalmic acquisitions in 2019, ECP now operates across 12 states throughout the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, as well as the Southwest with the addition of Nationwide. ECP supports the growth of its practices with revenue cycle management, purchasing, marketing, human resources, recruiting, training, IT and other business functions.

“With the Nationwide team, we look forward to providing patients with the ultimate in eye care in
Arizona and Florida,“ said Dr. James J. Wachter, chief professional officer of ECP.

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