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VSP Global and Glam4Good Partner for Charity

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They’re bringing vision care, eyewear, clothing and fashion accessories to those in need.

(Press Release) RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – A charitable collaboration, first developed through Hurricane Harvey outreach, is now taking formal shape in a year-long effort to provide access to comprehensive eye exams, prescription glasses, beauty and fashion items where they are needed most. VSP Global, which includes the nation’s largest not-for-profit vision benefits company, and GLAM4GOOD, the award-winning empowerment platform and non-profit organization, announced that they are joining forces to make a greater impact in the communities they serve.

After Hurricane Harvey, VSP Global joined GLAM4GOOD in Houston, TX, to help 750 teachers and educators who had lost everything. GLAM4GOOD organized a “shopping spree for free,” and local VSP network doctors, all of whom had practices damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, volunteered to provide no-cost eye exams with prescription glasses made onsite with the VSP Global Eyes of Hope mobile eye care clinic.

This year, the two organizations partnered again in San Juan, Puerto Rico, eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. San Jorge Children’s Hospital patient floors were transformed into eye exam rooms and mini-boutiques filled with clothing, accessories, toys and designer eyewear for pediatric patients and their families.

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“GLAM4GOOD helps empower individuals faced with hardships like homelessness, domestic violence, illness and natural disasters; circumstances where our mission to empower dignity, hope and joy teamed with providing new wardrobes, beauty services and personal care essentials can go a long way towards setting a path forward,” said Mary Alice Stephenson, founder of GLAM4GOOD. “Teaming up with VSP Global has allowed us to offer those we serve access to eye care and eye wear that is critical to their overall health and well-being and ultimately their future.”

Additional initiatives where VSP Global and GLAM4GOOD are partnering include a recent outreach event in New York City, where 150 seniors at the High School of Fashion Industries had the opportunity to shop for workwear and receive eye exams from local VSP network doctors who volunteered their services and glasses from Nine West Eyewear, helping set them up for success as they journey into the world of style.

“Our collaboration with GLAM4GOOD enables our organization to broaden access to care for those who need it most in a truly unique way,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Global. “Our complementary missions have seamlessly come together to combine the joy of fashion with the transformative effects of an eye exam and glasses to help communities in need.”

This fall, the two organizations, alongside the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, will host an adoption day celebration in recognition of those who help make adoption a reality. For more information about VSP Global Eyes of Hope charitable programs, visit globaleyesofhope.com.

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Eye Health Firm Plans Job Cuts

It will focus resources on Dextenza.

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BEDFORD, MA — Ocular Therapeutix Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on therapies for eye conditions and diseases, announced an operational restructuring plan.

The plan is expected to result in about $11 million in annualized savings through personnel reductions and $14 million in “one-time program deferrals,” according to a press release. The company did not say how many jobs would be cut.

With the restructuring, the company is looking to focus resources on Dextenza, an FDA-approved corticosteroid indicated for the treatment of ocular inflammation and pain following ophthalmic surgery.

“We have elected to restructure Ocular in order to maximize the opportunity we have with DEXTENZA and our pipeline,” said Antony Mattessich, president and CEO. “We will use a portion of the savings generated to increase the size of our commercial field force to broaden our national reach and increase DEXTENZA promotional capabilities. Additionally, the savings are anticipated to extend our cash runway through the end of 2020 and provide an improved financial position as we build the Company for the long term.”

According to the press release:

The restructuring represents a strategic realignment and commitment by the Company to allocate capital and resources to maximize the commercial opportunity of DEXTENZA® and focus resources on progressing key pipeline assets, including completion of its DEXTENZA Phase 3 trial in allergic conjunctivitis and completion of Phase 1 trials of OTX-TIC for the treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension and OTX-TKI for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. The Company believes the savings, combined with projected sales of DEXTENZA and cash and cash equivalents, will result in an extension of the Company’s current cash runway through the fourth quarter of 2020.

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FTC Releases Disclosures Guidance for Social Media Influencers

It explains when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers.

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Enlisting social media “influencers” has become a popular way to promote a wide range of products, including eyewear.

Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious to consumers what is and isn’t an ad. The Federal Trade Commission wants to fix that.

The FTC has released a new publication for online influencers that lays out the agency’s rules of the road for when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers.

The new guide, “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” provides influencers with tips from FTC staff about what triggers the need for a disclosure and offers examples of both effective and ineffective disclosures.

The guide and accompanying videos underscore that the responsibility to make disclosures about endorsements lies with the influencer. The guide outlines the various ways that an influencer’s relationship with a brand would make disclosures necessary, and it reminds influencers that they cannot assume that followers are aware of their connections to brands.

The guide includes tips for when and how influencers should tell their followers about a relationship. For example, it suggests the words influencers might use, as well as where in their social posts a disclosure should appear.

The new publication summarizes the FTC’s existing guidance in this area, including the FTC’s Endorsement Guides and a 2017 question-and-answer document produced by staff.

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$17M Grant to Support Research Linking Eye Health, Alzheimer’s

‘The eyes provide a lens to understand the health of the brain,’ says one researcher.

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(Press Release) In pursuit of changing the course of Alzheimer’s, support is growing to explore new avenues that might unlock mysteries of this brain disease. This includes investigating the link between aging eyes and aging brains.

Cecilia Lee, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, recently received a $17.2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to research eye diseases’ associations with Alzheimer’s.

“The eyes provide a lens to understand the health of the brain,” she said.

Lee was lead author of a 2018 study that found a significant link between Alzheimer’s disease and three degenerative eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Alzheimer’s is complicated and expensive to diagnose. Lee hopes to identify novel eye-related biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease that could lead to much easier and cheaper diagnostics to pinpoint people at risk of developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s, and perhaps expedite future treatments.

The research team comprises a large group of UW and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute investigators with world-renowned expertise in dementia, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, ophthalmic imaging, big data, and artificial intelligence. They include Eric B. Larson, senior investigator and former vice president for research and healthcare innovation at Kaiser, and, from the UW: Paul Crane, professor of medicine, C. Dirk Keene, associate professor of pathology, Ruikang Wang, professor of bioengineering, and Aaron Lee, assistant professor of ophthalmology.

In 1994, while at the University of Washington, Larson started the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, a prospective repository of health information of Kaiser Permanente Washington patients age 65 and over; it provides data for many studies, including this one. The ACT database also includes a rare autopsy cohort so researchers can see what happened to the brains of consenting participants after they die. The team will partner with the Laboratory on Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California to make the ophthalmic imaging data from this project available to researchers around the world.

“This project will develop unique community-based and home-based data about the health of eyes in older adults, which has never been studied to this extent before,” said Crane. “It will be the largest such collection of data from any project anywhere, which is very exciting.”

Keene said the study is important because linking disease processes in the eye and the brain provides a window not only for diagnosis but also to understand mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease development and progression.

“This will hopefully result in early intervention and prevention of neurodegeneration,” he said.

Lee said the grant is an endorsement of the ACT team’s work and of the National Institute on Aging’s investment in Alzheimer’s research involving the eye. As Larson said, the ACT team has had longstanding interest in the relationship of sensory functions with Alzheimer’s, but now they have much more sophistication and promise to understand it.

Credit: UW Medicine

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