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Researchers Developing Contact Lens to Fight Dry Eye Syndrome

The CyteSolutions Lens team hopes to take the prototype to clinical trials.

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The CyteSolutions Lens, developed by Pitt engineering graduate student researcher Alexis Nolfi along with researchers Vishal Jhanji of the School of Medicine and Mangesh Kulkarni and Bryan Brown being tested in the lab. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)

Researchers in Pennsylvania are developing a contacts lens intended to combat dry eye syndrome.

The CyteSolutions Lens is a silicone-hydrogel-based contact lens coated with natural biopolymers — organic molecular structures — containing a drug that targets inflammatory dry eye pathways “not targeted by any other current treatments,” according to a press item from the University of Pittsburgh.

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“The coating is only activated and degraded whenever it makes contact with the surface of your eye, because there are enzymes in your eyes that work to degrade the polymers we use,” said Alexis Nolfi, a graduate bioengineering student researcher in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. “This allows the slow and safe release of drugs over a period of hours or even days as opposed to drops that almost immediately fall out of or drain away from your eyes.”

Nolfi has been dealing with dry eye for several years, and the eye drop treatments she had been taking were only working temporarily, so she was using eye drops multiple times a day.

“It’s been pretty frustrating and borderline debilitating,” said Nolfi. “I had been using artificial tears every night and all through the day. I still use them all the time and haven’t been getting adequate relief, and I fight with my insurance company to cover prescription eye drop treatments.”

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When she went to visit her eye doctor, Vishal Jhanji, in 2018, the two began discussing the need for better treatment options for dry eye syndrome.

“Dry eye is the most common reason patients come into our office,” said Jhanji, a professor of ophthalmology in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “She (Nolfi) had been using eye drops 10 to 15 times a day.”

Nolfi decided to experiment with contact lenses given to her by Jhanji to develop a new therapy tool and drug delivery system.

“There is a definite need for innovation and ways to deliver drugs to the surface of the eye,” Jhanji said. “We’re not looking to simply replenish the eye; we’re trying to tackle the root cause of this problem.”

Nolfi and Jhanji, along with Swanson School researchers Mangesh Kulkarni and Bryan Brown, recently won one of three $100,000 grand prizes at the 2019 Pitt Innovation Challenge, hosted by Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, to further advance their innovation.

The CyteSolutions Lens team hopes to take its prototype to clinical trials and will ramp up studies thanks to the competition’s funding. The researchers said anyone who uses contact lenses would be a good candidate to try CyteSolutions Lens.

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“We don’t expect this lens to feel any different from standard soft contact lenses, and they’re natural with no chemical crosslinking,” said Jhanji.

Pitt’s Innovation Institute, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the UPMC Eye Center assisted with research on the CyteSolutions Lens.

Credit: Pittwire

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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Kim Kardashian Eyewear Deal to End Early Amid Disappointing Sales

The U.S. launch was a flop.

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A an agreement under which reality TV and social media star Kim Kardashian West promotes an eyewear brand is likely to end prematurely, Israeli news site Haaretz reports.

Kardashian has a two-year deal with apparel retailer Castro to tout Carolina Lemke eyewear. But discussions are underway for the deal to be cut off at the halfway point because of sluggish sales, according to Haaretz.

Kardashian was hired to boost the brand’s U.S. launch in the second quarter of 2019. Kardashian’s deal included a $6 million deal and an ownership share in Carolina Lemke USA.

But the launch was a flop, Haaretz reports. The company reportedly sold only $1 million worth of the eyewear and returned 300,000 pairs to Israel.

Castro released a statement saying: “The company’s Carolina Lemke Limited subsidiary and Ms. Kim Kardashian West are together exploring the option of adjusting the contract terms with Kim Kardashian West and the company she controls, including the matter of the period Kim Kardashian West provides her services.”

Read more at Haaretz

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Vision Council Unveils ‘Reimagination’ of Vision Expo

The next show is set for March 26-29.

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ALEXANDRIA, VA –  The Vision Council announced that it is “reimagining” its signature trade show, the bi-annual Vision Expo, for 2020.

The council, together with co-owner of the Show Reed Exhibitions, “aims to mark a new era for Vision Expo with a laser-like focus on discovery, connection and experience,” according to a press release.

Along with refreshed branding, including redesigned logos and show tagline (“The Future, Clearly”), changes will first be seen at Vision Expo East 2020, set for the Javits Center in New York City March 26–29. Shaped by feedback from both exhibitors and attendees, the new concept “is anchored in the form of curated neighborhoods, optimizing the connection between sellers and buyers, as well as exhibit spaces with enhanced design creativity and interactive appeal,” according to the release.

“We are excited to invest in the growth and evolution of Vision Expo, and the industry at large,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “The show has always served as a discovery zone for innovative products and services, new technology and fashion trends, while simultaneously encouraging and challenging the industry. 2020 provides unique significance in leading us into a vibrant future and we know the reimagination of Vision Expo will present the optical industry with the perfect platform to make that happen.”

Vision Expo East 2020 will welcome the first-phase debut of three new distinct neighborhoods:

  • The River – Daring, design-driven artisanal products creating a show-within-a-show pavilion for select industry leaders. Exhibitors in The River include Thierry Lasry, Maybach, FACE A FACE/Kilsgaard, l.a. Eyeworks, Piero Massaro/Italiana Design, Pugnale, Linda Farrow, Rigards, Anna-Karin Karlsson, Gold & Wood, Kio Yamato, Kuboram, Jacques Marie Mage, Garrett Leight/Mr. Leight, Eyevan, La LOOP, Matsuda, BAARS, Christian Roth, Robert Marc and DITA. (Located in the River Pavilion on Level 4)
  • The Union – The ultimate shopping experience of boutique and premium independent brands including exclusive, hip and fashion-forward lifestyle brands. Sample exhibitors for The Union include Lafont, OGI, Jonathan Cate, and Etnia Barcelona. (Level 3)
  • The Springs – Incubator zone for emerging talent in eyewear design. Exhibitors in The Springs include Jean Philippe Joly, Komorebi Eyewear, Mondelliani Eyewear, Nina Mur, Turchin Eyerings, Dzmitry Samal and Stellis Eyeworks. (Level 3)

Additional neighborhoods are planned to debut at Vision Expo East 2021, including new identities for three other essential aspects of the show.

“In the last 10 years, the exhibitions industry has seen its share of disruption and evolution,” said Yancy Weinrich, chief operations officer of Reed Exhibitions. “We’re meeting the challenge head-on with our re-imagination of Vision Expo through visually exciting new neighborhoods, technology and digitally driven tools to enhance business and lead generation at the show, and education that will take our audiences to new levels in their practices and businesses.”

Furthermore, a fresh take to the show’s continuing education courses includes an accredited education area dedicated to seminars, workshops and presentations led by experts in practice management, business and marketing.

“Advancements in continuing education programs are also central to Vision Expo’s reimagined presence,” said Mark Dunbar, OD, FAAO, Education Advisory Board Co-Chairman. “Custom designed for Vision Expo by the Education Advisory Board, the 2020 Education program includes exclusive, never-before-seen clinical presentations staged for the first time ever at Vision Expo East. Organized by key content areas including glaucoma, posterior segment/retina, anterior segment/dry eye, surgical/co-management, and systemic disease and diabetes, clinical attendees will discover courses specifically developed to immerse them in the most cutting-edge developments for better patient care.”

More information about the Vision Expo can be found at east.visionexpo.com.

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Canada’s Largest Optical Company Enters US Market with Acquisition

The deal is expected to close in January.

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MONTREAL — New Look Vision Group Inc., Canada’s largest optical company, announced plans to acquire the assets of Miami-based Coco Lunette Holding LLC, which operates mainly under the Edward Beiner banner.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Under the direction of Edward Beiner and Guido Balocco, the Edward Beiner Co. has built a presence in key premium markets across 12 locations in Florida including Miami, Aventura, Boca Raton, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Naples, Orlando and Palm Beach. Its current annualized revenue is $11.65 million and it will continue to operate as a standalone unit within the New Look Vision Group.

This transaction marks the first time a Canada-based retail optical company acquires an eyewear retailer in the U.S., according to a press release from New Look Vision.

The combined entity will have a store network consisting of 390 locations, reinforcing New Look Vision’s position as the largest Canadian retail optical company and as a growing player in North America overall.

The acquisition of Edward Beiner is expected to close on or about Jan. 2 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Antoine Amiel, president and CEO of New Look Vision, said: “This is a significant strategic step forward for New Look Vision with our first participation in the U.S. retail optical market through the acquisition of a high quality established and promising business in the large and growing Florida market. A relationship of trust built over many years has today evolved into a common endeavour. Both groups share values of hard work, integrity, a passion for retail optical and a dedication to quality eye care. We feel privileged to welcome Edward and his team into our organization. The transaction will be a major step forward for both organizations.”

Edward Beiner, CEO of Edward Beiner Co., added: “It is an enormous privilege for me and the Edward Beiner group to become New Look Vision’s first entry into the US market. In joining New Look Vision we become part of a highly successful organization that will provide us with the support required to accelerate our growth, in Florida and throughout the U.S. Antoine and I share the same philosophy and vision about the US market and we are both confident that together we will achieve very positive results. In many ways, this union revives my long-standing association with Canada, where I attended school and began my optical career. As such, I am thrilled to rejoin many of my Canadian alumni, many of whom are part of New Look Vision and look forward to contributing to the overall success of our collective effort.”

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