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WestGroupe Announces #Withoutmysight Challenge for World Sight Day 2019

It will continue throughout the month of October.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MONTREAL, QC — WestGroupe is celebrating World Sight Day on October 10th with Optometry Giving Sight. Each year, Optometry Giving Sight holds an international fundraising campaign that brings the global optometry community together to help end preventable vision impairment. More than 1.2 billion visually impaired people in the world have limited access to an eye exam and a pair of eyeglasses. This figure includes millions of children who depend on their sight to succeed in school. World Sight Day, an annual awareness day, is a global call to action to bring awareness and education on eye health. Together we can make a bigger impact.

For the second year in a row, WestGroupe is partnering up with Optometry Giving Sight and The Canadian National Institute for the Blind, along with a complete list of collaborators, in a combined effort to educate the public on eye health, as well as fundraise to help people in need of basic eye care.

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“WestGroupe is proud to partner with the Optometry Giving Sight Foundation and the Canadian Institute for the Blind” said WestGroupe President Michael Suliteanu. “Together, we will work towards the goal of promoting a healthy vision and educating people on the importance of maintaining eye health. We believe that everyone has a right to quality eye care services that is both affordable and accessible”.

To help inform the public, the #WithoutMySight social media campaign is a way to motivate people around the world to help end preventable vision loss and to better understand the immediate effects of vision loss and the importance of looking after your eye health. For every $5.00 raised, the foundation can provide an eye exam and a pair of glasses for someone in need.

Our Champions have all experienced vision loss at some point in their life. They want to share their stories to inspire people and demonstrate that anything is possible. The #WithoutMySight Challenge is a way to bring attention to the importance of eye health and show how vision can be taken for granted. Our Champions have succeeded in all aspects of life, as entrepreneurs, athletes and engineers. They’re a source of inspiration for anyone who needs it, which is why they’ve earned the title of being our Champions.

Starting October 2nd, we will introduce our Champions on social media by publishing their story videos. On October 10th, we will launch the #WithoutMySight Challenge of our Champions and collaborators to show us how it’s done. The Challenge will continue throughout the month of October to help spread awareness and educate people on the importance of eye health.

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We also encourage everyone to donate to help us raise funds and to reach our goal of $5,000 by October 31st for Optometry Giving Sight.

Follow the link to find a full list of our Champions and Collaborators: https://we.tl/t-26qroWyI9h

How to take the #WithoutMySight Challenge:

1. Choose a (safe) task you’d like to perform while blindfolded (making coffee, writing an e-mail, shooting a three pointer, preparing a snack, the options are endless!)
2. Have someone record you performing the task with your blindfold is on
3. Nominate 3 other people to take the challenge
4. Upload and share you video on your social media accounts with the tags: @WestGroupe and #WithoutMySight and #WorldSightDay
5. Donate $5.00 at the following link and help us reach our goal! http://bit.do/WithoutMySight

For more information, follow us on Facebook and Instagram @WestGroupe to learn more about the initiative and how you can take the challenge and donate. Help us raise funds and spread the word for affordable and accessible eye care because together we can make a bigger impact!

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CooperVision Appoints Jane Agbontaen as Senior Brand Marketing Director for Myopia Management in North America

Agbontaen has more than 20 years of professional experience in the healthcare space.

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Jane Agbontaen

(PRESS RELEASE) SAN RAMON, CA — CooperVision has named Jane Agbontaen as senior brand director for Myopia Management – Americas. In this newly created role, Agbontaen will be responsible for the strategic planning and execution of all activities that support the U.S. growth of CooperVision’s myopia management portfolio – specifically the Brilliant Futures™ Myopia Management Program with MiSight 1 day, the first and only FDA-approved product1 clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia when initially prescribed for children 8-12 years old in the United States.

Agbontaen’s role includes cross-functional and cross-business support to ensure CooperVision’s MiSight 1 day commercialization strategy is successful. Growing the portfolio includes touchpoints with eyecare practitioners and patients, as well as healthcare and legislative ecosystems that govern children’s health and wellness.

“With the FDA approval of MiSight and the impending roll out of our Brilliant Futures Myopia Management Program, we require an evolution of our sales and marketing approach as we take on the rising epidemic of childhood myopia. Going forward, broadening our scope of healthcare provider alliances and industry partnerships are essential elements of shaping the standard of care in myopia management,” said Simon Seshadri, vice president of marketing at CooperVision, North America. “Jane’s previous experiences and skills are a perfect fit for this role and to help us achieve our desired outcomes. I’m delighted to have her onboard.”

Agbontaen has more than 20 years of professional experience in the healthcare space and with large medical device players such as Hologic, Abbot Medical Optics and Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes. While at Abbot Medical Optics, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care during her tenure, Agbontaen managed a broad brand portfolio in the cataracts segment, including intraocular lenses and instruments. Agbontaen received her bachelor’s degree from Long Island University and her MBA from the Stern School at New York University.

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OGI Eyewear Names Chief Creative Officer

He will not only lead creative development but will also serve as partner.

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(PRESS RELEASE) OGI Eyewear, a member of The Optical Foundry, announces the appointment of David Duralde as chief creative officer. Duralde has joined the company not only to lead creative development but also as a partner.

Duralde’s distinguished optical career is marked by extensive experience both with licensed and independent brands, including his most recent role as Chief Creative Officer at Kenmark Eyewear. “I am very excited about the opportunity to redefine and reinvigorate the niche independent brands in the OGI portfolio of products and provide a consistent, compelling story to the brands. I can’t wait to get started with the OGI
Eyewear product and marketing teams to connect deeply with our loyal customers, create frames that light up many more faces and help independent practices thrive and shine in this vigorously changing market.” said Duralde.

Robert Rich, CEO of OGI, notes, “David is exactly the right person to lead us in the revitalization of our brand portfolio. Despite a solid market position, OGI and its family of brands will benefit from an injection of fresh ideas and design innovations that will expand our leading role in the realm of affordable luxury frames.”

Rich adds, “This is a homecoming of sorts for David, having begun his formative optical design training at l.a.Eyeworks, another member of the Optical Foundry.”

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First US Patient Gets Wireless Retinal Device Implant

It’s aimed at restoring partial sight to patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration.

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(PRESS RELEASE) PITTSBURGH – UPMC has implanted the first patient in the U.S. with a new wireless retinal device as part of a clinical trial aimed at restoring partial sight to patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration.

“Vision research has advanced dramatically in the recent past and UPMC is at the forefront of this revolution. This is the first of many such breakthroughs led by UPMC and Pitt that will benefit patients with vision loss in our community and around the world,” said José-Alain Sahel, MD, director of the UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Foundation chair of ophthalmology and distinguished professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who initiated the trial at UPMC. “We are proud to be the first center in the United States to test this next generation retinal implant that could help treat an incurable disease like AMD.”

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The system, called PRIMA, is designed to restore sight in patients blinded by retinal degeneration. It consists of a 2 millimeter-by-2 millimeter, 30-micron thick miniaturized wireless photovoltaic chip placed under the damaged retina. It works in tandem with augmented reality glasses that have a built-in miniaturized camera and infrared projector.

The chip acts like a tiny artificial retina, made up of 378 tiny electrodes that convert infrared light from the glasses to electrical signals that are carried by the optic nerve to the brain. After receiving the implant, patients undergo an intensive rehabilitation program that trains their brains to understand and interpret the signals from the implant in combination with their remaining natural vision. Compared to earlier-generation implants, PRIMA is wireless and has significantly more electrodes, which allows for the transmission of more visual information.

“This is an incredibly exciting first for us at UPMC and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Joseph Martel, MD, the implanting surgeon at the UPMC Eye Center and the Pitt School of Medicine, and the principal investigator of the trial at UPMC. “I’m grateful to our patients who have volunteered to participate in this trial, without whom this would not be possible.”

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 50. Today, it affects approximately 14 million people in the United States, and the prevalence is expected to rise as the baby boomers age. As AMD progresses, the center of vision becomes increasingly blurry. “Atrophic” AMD, which accounts for a large proportion of advanced cases, has no curative treatment available.

The UPMC feasibility trial is running in parallel with the first-in-human trial in France, which involves five patients with advanced AMD, who now have been followed for more than a year. The 12-month results from the French study demonstrated the ability of most patients to identify sequences of letters and there were no device-related serious adverse effects.

“We are working with a great sense of urgency because the aging population of the United States, especially the western Pennsylvania region we live in, will see a significant rise in the number of patients at risk for vision loss through diseases like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and vascular eye disease, as well as earlier onset genetic conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa,” said Sahel. “This is why our physicians and researchers at UPMC and Pitt, in collaboration with our U.S. and international colleagues — especially at the Paris Vision Institute at Sorbonne University — are taking a multi-pronged effort to treat and rehabilitate patients with vision impairments.”

In March 2019, UPMC broke ground on the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Tower at UPMC Mercy, which when completed, will provide advanced specialty clinical care and innovative programs for visually impaired patients. It also will be the home for the vision research program at Pitt and UPMC.

The PRIMA implant was invented by Daniel Palanker, professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, and licensed and developed by Pixium Vision, a spin-off from the Paris Vision Institute. Sahel is a co-founder of Pixium and holds shares in the company.

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