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This Eye Problem Costs the Global Economy $244B a Year, According to a Study

The costs stem from lost productivity.

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Vision impairment caused by uncorrected myopia cost the global economy an estimated $244 billion in lost productivity in 2015, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Ophthalmology.

The research estimated that 538 million people had vision impairment resulting from uncorrected myopia, with the East Asia region, which includes China, bearing the greatest burden of productivity loss of around $150 billion. The South Asia and South East Asia regions also experienced significant productivity loss at over $30 billion each. This represents more than 1% of GDP in each of the three regions.

The authors say a one-off investment of around $20 billion would establish the services necessary to provide vision correction to all who need it, potentially leading to a significant annual saving in productivity.

Co–author Tim Fricke, from Brien Holden Vision Institute, said, “On current trends we expect there will be 2.6 billion people with myopia globally in 2020. While the majority will have access to corrective lenses such as spectacles and contact lenses, enabling them to have good vision, current service capacity will leave well over half a billion people unable to access an eye examination and appropriate correction. This includes around 54 million people classified as having mild vision impairment, who, although not formally recognised as being vision impaired, still experience a loss of utility, albeit relatively small, which is accounted for in this study.

“The impact of vision impairment on lives can be substantial, including affecting employment, education and social interaction. This study captures one element of that, demonstrating the scale of the economic burden. For a single health condition to result in a loss of over 1% of GDP is enormously important. The findings also serve to highlight the potential value in funding the interventions needed to eliminate this unnecessary impairment.”

A combination of factors explains the substantial burden in East Asia, said Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg, head of myopia at Brien Holden Vision Institute.

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“The high-density urban living with a focus on near based activities has resulted in high prevalence and also in a large number of people with inadequate visual correction,” Sankaridurg said.

Along with East Asia, other regions significantly impacted are South Asia and Southeast Asia, both estimated to suffer productivity loss of over $30 billion in 2015. The researchers conclude that people with myopia are “less likely to have adequate optical correction if they are older and live in a rural area of a less developed country.”

“Peak international eye care and health agencies, governments and international NGOs are working collaboratively to build the sustainable eye care systems that would address this need,” said Sankaridurg. “This research demonstrates a need for funding to be either prioritised or sourced, to allow the successful implementation of these efforts.”

The researchers note that lost productivity resulting from myopia-related vision impairment represents only part of the overall economic burden of myopia. Direct costs such as expenses related to eye examinations, refractive corrections and managing pathological consequences of myopia such as MMD, and related opportunity costs, are not covered in their analysis.

“Even without considering these other costs our analysis shows that the burden is substantial and the savings by implementing the services needed would be significant,” Sankaridurg said.

The study, “Potential Lost Productivity Resulting from the Global Burden of Myopia: Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis and Modelling,” was conducted by researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales (Australia), African Vision Research Institute, University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa) and Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University. It was supported with funding from Brien Holden Vision Institute and the Vision Impact Institute.

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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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Contact Lens Maker Acquired

The company sells the Extreme H2O product line.

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ROCHESTER, NY — Clerio Vision Inc., a developer of laser-based vision correction solutions, announced that it has acquired Hydrogel Vision Corp. (HVC).

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HVC, founded in 2002, is best known for its Extreme H2O product line and its “multiple differentiated offerings that personalize the contact lens wearing experience,” according to a press release. For example, HVC offers lenses in multiple diameters, with smaller lenses to more comfortably fit those with smaller corneas or narrower eyelids, and larger lenses for those with larger corneas or for improved sports performance.

“As Clerio began preparations for its first contact lens offering, we quickly identified HVC as a best-in-class manufacturing partner,” said Alex Zapesochny, co-CEO of Clerio Vision. “We are thrilled to have now fully joined forces with HVC and to further build on its history of offering innovative products of the highest quality.”

HVC contacts are also made from a proprietary ultra-hydrating material that retains up to 99% of its moisture, “which can help to minimize the dryness and itchiness that is often experienced by contact lens wearers late in the day, and may be especially helpful to those who work a lot with screens or live in dryer climates,” according to the release. HVC also distributes the only disposable opaque color contacts for those with astigmatism.

Clerio was founded in 2014 to commercialize breakthrough femtosecond laser research at the University of Rochester. The company’s technology enables the laser writing of unique patterns into contact lenses that optimize visual acuity, including superior correction at both far and near distances for those with presbyopia. Clerio’s multifocal contact lens product is currently in clinical development and is expected to be on the market in the next 18 months.

HVC products are sold in 25 countries, either under the Extreme H2O brand or under one of several private label arrangements. All HVC employees will be retained and its manufacturing and fulfillment activities will continue to be carried out in its locations in Sarasota, FL.

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Shopko Optical Now Has 12 Freestanding Locations

It also announced appointments to its leadership team.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Shopko Optical announced that it continues the relocation of 80 optical centers into freestanding locations.

To date, Shopko Optical has opened 12 stand-alone locations, with an additional 12 locations slated to be relocated from their former Shopko store locations by early August.

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The remainder of the store locations are scheduled to open throughout the summer and fall of 2019. Shopko Optical will base its headquarters in Green Bay and will employ 40 people on its corporate team.

In May, Monarch Alternative Capital LP announced the completion of its acquisition of Shopko Optical. Shopko was a retail chain that announced plans plans to wind down its operations.

Shopko Optical has also announced several appointments to its leadership team.

Jim Eisen, who is serving as interim CEO, is helping to lead the company through its transition. Eisen, whose role was officially announced earlier this year, was previously the president of Visionworks. Eisen is joined by Shopko Optical veterans, as well as some new additions to the leadership team.

Kirk Lauterback, a 25-year Shopko Optical veteran, has been named vice president of optical operations and will oversee merchandising, as well as the company’s retail optical centers, and its manufacturing facility in DePere, WI.

Dr. Thomas Bobka will continue to serve as director of optometry services. Bobka has been with Shopko Optical for over 20 years and will serve as the doctor liaison and support optometrist practice management.

“We are excited to bring together a strong group of individuals with a demonstrated track record of strategic leadership that supports the care of our patients, customers, and our teammates,” Eisen said.

Additions to the Shopko Optical leadership team are Donna Capichano who will serve as vice president of store development; Cindy Moen, who will serve as the vice president of human resources; and Cathleen Stewart, who will serve as vice president of marketing.

Capichano has 25 years of retail real estate development experience in both big-box and specialty retail and is transitioning to Shopko Optical from her former position with Shopko Stores Operating Co. Moen is also transitioning from Shopko, where she spent the past 12 years leading HR business teams in the stores and corporate office. Stewart joins the Shopko Optical team from Batteries Plus. She brings 15 years of experience developing and leading strategic marketing programs.

“We have worked to build an organization that serves our optical centers the way our doctors and opticians serve our patients and customers in our communities across the country: with clinical expertise, personal attention, quality and integrity. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Shopko Optical family,” said Eisen.

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Online Eyewear Firm Opens More Brick-and-Mortar Stores

It now has 7 locations.

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Minneapolis-based Eyebobs, which started as an online retailer, has opened its seventh bricks-and-mortar location.

The newest store is at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD, Chain Store Age reports. It’s the fourth location to open this year.

Mike Hollenstein, CEO of the company, told Chain Store Age that other locations are under consideration.

“Eyebobs is dedicated to helping every customer frame their personality and be their true and authentic selves. Shopping should be a fun experience and we can’t wait to better serve our customers in the Washington, D.C., market with this new store,” he was quoted saying.

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INVISION reported on Eyebobs last year, when it announced plans for two stores: one in the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the other in Orlando, FL.

For years after its founding in 2001, the company concentrated on stylish reading glasses. It began selling prescription eyewear in 2017.

Read more at Chain Store Age

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