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Optometry College Receives Record Gift

The Mark W. Franks and Mary Franks Scholarship and Loan Fund is valued at $1.5 million.

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The Southern College of Optometry has received a $1.5 million gift, the largest in its history.

An agreement between the Optometry Association of Louisiana and SCO resulted in the transfer of a trust to SCO, according to a press release from the college. The gift was made possible by the estate of the late Dr. Mark W. Franks, a 1955 SCO graduate and longtime Louisiana optometrist.

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“Southern College of Optometry is grateful to the Optometry Association of Louisiana and the memory of Dr. Franks and his wife in establishing this fund,” said Dr. Lewis Reich, SCO president. “Dr. Franks was a self-made man who came to Memphis for his optometric education back in the early 1950s. The education he received at SCO enabled him to practice optometry in Winnsboro, Louisiana until his death in 1989, so the collaboration on this gift is a fitting tribute to the memory of a remarkable SCO graduate.”

Following his death in 1989, Franks and his wife, Mary, bequeathed about $500,000 to the Optometry Association of Louisiana to establish a low interest loan trust for Louisiana optometry students who attended SCO. After several years of legal and financial transactions to establish the trust, it came to fruition in 2000, at which time the college agreed to help administer the loan program with oversight from the Optometry Association of Louisiana.

To expand upon the impact envisioned by Franks more than 30 years ago, this year an agreement was reached to donate the existing trust fund and its control to SCO to form the Mark W. Franks and Mary Franks Scholarship and Loan Fund. The fund’s total current value is about $1.5 million, making it the largest bequeathment gift in the college’s 87-year history.

CO Board of Trustees Chair Dr. James Sandefur, a 1965 SCO graduate, also serves as the OAL’s executive director and joined Reich in making the announcement at the college’s reception for alumni and friends during SECO International’s New Orleans convention for 6,000 optometric professionals from around the world.

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“Louisiana is one of the nation’s most forward-thinking states when it comes to the practice of optometry and the scope of our profession, so this gift underscores our state’s commitment to recruiting the best and brightest optometry students to join our profession and follow in the tradition of Dr. Mark Franks,” Sandefur said.

“As Board Chair of SCO and as Executive Director of the OAL, I know first-hand that Dr. Franks loved optometry, Louisiana, and knew how important it was to give back to his profession so future optometric physicians could follow in his footsteps.”

The New Orleans announcement paid tribute to Franks, who was born March 17, 1922, in Owasso, OK. After working in construction, he served his country in World War II and pursued an engineering degree before switching to optometry. He worked his way through SCO by serving as a draftsman on a Memphis railroad yard. Memories of Franks were also provided by his practice’s longtime partner, Dr. W.E. Marionneaux, a 1969 SCO graduate.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 21 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Chain Retailer to Close All Stores, Evaluate Options for Optical Business

The company was unable to find a buyer.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Retail chain Shopko announced that it will wind down its operations and that it is “evaluating strategic options” for its optical business.

The company said in a press release that despite its best efforts, it was “unable to find a buyer for its go-forward business as a going concern.”

“As a result, Shopko will commence an orderly wind-down of its retail operations beginning this week,” the company stated.

USA Today reports that Shopko announced in February its intent to close 250 stores, which would amount to 70 percent of its locations. That plan came as the company “attempted to scale back the business and work through bankruptcy to restore profitability and attract a buyer or investor,” according to the newspaper.

Now, the company instead plans to close all stores by mid-June, USA Today reports.

The company will not move forward with the auction that it previously contemplated, and Gordon Bros. will oversee a liquidation process that is expected to conclude 10 to 12 weeks from now, according to the release.

“This is not the outcome that we had hoped for when we started our restructuring efforts,” said Russ Steinhorst, CEO. “We want to thank all of our teammates for their hard work and dedication during their time at Shopko.”

As for the optical business, Shopko had originally hoped to spin off the business into standalone locations, USA Today reports.

Now the optical business will be among the assets that Shopko seeks to liquidate, according to the newspaper.

WLUK-TV reports: “As of now, four Shopko optical locations will remain open until further evaluation: Mequon, Oshkosh, Waukesha and Omaha, Nebraska.”

In its Jan. 16 bankruptcy filing, Shopko reported having less than $1 billion in assets and between $1 billion and $10 billion in liabilities.

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Alcon Makes $285M Acquisition

It bought PowerVision Inc., a medical device development company.

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FORT WORTH, TX – Alcon announced that it has acquired PowerVision Inc., a privately held, U.S.-based medical device development company focused on creating fluid-based intraocular lens implants.

Alcon paid $285 million to PowerVision at closing, with additional payments to be made based on regulatory and commercial milestones starting in 2023, according to a press release from Alcon, a division of Novartis.

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The acquisition “furthers Alcon’s commitment to bring this innovative, accommodating lens to cataract patients throughout the world,” the release stated.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Commercial availability of PowerVision’s IOL technology will be determined following significant additional development and clinical trials of the intraocular lens, according to the release.

“As the industry leader in cataract surgery, we’re eager to accelerate development of this potentially breakthrough accommodating lens technology,” said Michael Onuscheck, president of Global Business and Innovation. “By treating cataracts and restoring natural, continuous range of vision, this intraocular lens may be the preferred IOL for cataract surgery patients who desire spectacle independence.”

PowerVision’s lens design utilizes the eye’s natural accommodating response to transport fluid in the intraocular lens which is implanted in the eye’s capsular bag.

While most presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses use a multifocal design that distributes light between different focal points, PowerVision’s fluid-based design creates a continuously variable monofocal lens, utilizing the natural contraction of the eye’s muscles, according to the release. This technology allows the patient to actively focus on objects, just as the natural crystalline lens does in a youthful eye, providing patients with a natural, continuous range of vision.

“We’re thrilled to officially join Alcon and its pioneering history of launching new innovation in the field of ophthalmology,” said Barry Cheskin, president and CEO and co-founder of PowerVision. “We look forward to bringing this innovative IOL technology to eye care providers and customers in the years ahead.”

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Marchon Eyewear Co-Founder Dies

Alfred Berg was 67.

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Alfred Berg, who co-founded Marchon Eyewear in 1983, has died, WWD reports.

He was 67.

In the beginning, Berg served as CEO and president of Marchon. In 2008, Berg and partners sold Marchon to VSP Global.

Berg “left an incredible legacy behind, having built one of the world’s greatest and largest eyewear companies, which still thrives today thanks to his vision and competitive spirit,” said Rob Lynch, board member of VSP Global, according to WWD. Lynch was leading the company when it bought Marchon.

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Nicola Zotta, current CEO of Marchon, was quoted saying, “Al will be greatly missed by all who knew him and we will honor his legacy by continuing to make Marchon the most admired global eyewear company in the world.”

Among Marchon’s licenses today are Calvin Klein and Chloé.

Read more at the WWD

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