Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Warby Parker’s Brick & Mortar Stores Seem a Success

“Warby Parker has made a name for itself by selling affordable, hipster-chic eyeglasses through a website, avoiding costly store expenses and licensing fees,” starts the Wall Street Journal post that appeared last week. “While that business has thrived, the startup’s promising next act is taking shape in a chain of storefronts dotting trendy retail neighborhoods from Boston’s Newbury Street to Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles. Warby Parker is shaking up the glasses industry by offering home try-ons, online ordering and prescription frames for under $100. Co-founder and Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal discusses. Warby Parker’s eight brick-and-mortar stores are now collectively turning a profit, says Dave Gilboa, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive. The stores sell an average of $3,000 a square foot annually, higher than most retailers not named Apple Inc.” Read more.

FFL Pumps Money into Eyemart Express

“San Francisco private equity firm FFL is investing in Eyemart Express,” reports Mergers & Acquisitions. “Eyemart, headquartered in Farmers Branch, Texas, is an optical retailer that has more than 150 stores in 30 states. The company sells private label and branded glasses, including Nike, Guess, Fendi, Calvin Klein and Armani.” Read more.

    New Eyewear from Marchon

    “There is no doubt that New York City has one of the most beautiful, unique and famous skylines in the world. Some of humanity’s most impressive engineering achievements can be seen here, creating an effect that is artistically pleasing. And, much like the city itself, the skyline is always changing,” notes Midwest Lens. “That is why New York City’s skyline has been chosen to celebrate the trendy and strikingly diverse new eyewear collection from MarchoNYC. Always evolving and creating new designs, the latest MarchoNYC collection represents the diversity of the city and the individuals that inhabit it. Shot from the rooftop of the famed Starrett-Lehigh Building, enjoy a closer look at the collection and all of the beauty and history this city skyline has to offer.” Read more.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    A Proposal for Certification of Online Sellers of Prescription Eyewear

    LegitScript will start a certification program for Internet-based sellers of prescription eyewear that complies with applicable laws, regulations, and safety standards. The company announced the start of the program at the beginning of November. It is seeking comments regarding its certification standards.

    LegitScript got its start by certifying Internet pharmacies around the world, monitoring and classifying dietary supplements and similar products. It does not certify dietary supplement websites.

    The company notes that "as in any industry, there are sellers who are safe, legitimate and comply with applicable regulations designed to protect patients — and those who unfortunately skirt the rules, which can lead to customers receiving a substandard product or putting their health at risk. We think that eyewear patients deserve to know which are which." Read more.

    New Alexander Eyewear from A&A Optical

    "A&A Optical announces the release of two new petite styles from the Alexander Collection: Quinn and Molly. Reveal inner grace and sophistication in eyewear inspired by the woman who adorns herself with rich color and style, whether understated or dramatic," according to Midwest Lens. "Alexander Collection offers fine hand crafted details, such as Swarovski crystal accents, metal inlays and delicate laser etching in acetate, metal, semi-rimless and combination frame styles. Alexander Collection is designed to complement women of all face shapes. Petite, average and perfect fit (extended fit) styles are available in eye sizes 47mm to 57mm." Read more.

    Nutrition Matters in Eye Health

    "New research gives optometrists yet another reason to discuss nutrition—and its impact on eye health—with patients," reports the American Optometric Assn. (AOA). "A recent study found that participants with high adherence to dietary guidelines had a lowered risk of visual impairment. The study tracked participants' adherence to specific dietary guidelines and the occurrence of visual impairments over 10 years. Researchers analyzed data from 3,654 participants from the Blue Mountain Eye Study, who were examined at baseline, and reexamined after both five and 10 years." Read more.

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Doubtful that Blueberries Improve Night Vision

    "Blueberries are super stars among health food advocates, who tout the fruit for not only promoting heart health, better memory and digestion, but also for improving night vision," starts the Science Daily post. "Scientists have taken a closer look at this latter claim and have found reason to doubt that the popular berry helps most healthy people see better in the dark." Read more.

    New Sunglasses from Spy

    "Spy is happy to introduce four new styles and a multitude of colorways to its Crosstown Collection—a premium line of handmade offerings inspired by the echoes of Spy’s West Coast heritage," reports Midwest Lens. "Exuding the essence of the collection, the Trancas, Mulholland, Emerson and Presidio feature Spy’s innovative Happy Lens, rich acetate frames, mixed metal accents and lustrous details." Read more.

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    HIV/AIDS Drugs to Treat AMD? Laser Surgery Shows Promise

    “A landmark study published today in the journal Science by an international group of scientists, led by the laboratory of Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, professor & vice chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Kentucky, reports that HIV/AIDS drugs that have been used for the last 30 years could be repurposed to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as other inflammatory disorders, because of a previously undiscovered intrinsic and inflammatory activity those drugs possess,” reports Science Daily. “Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) are the most widely used class of anti-HIV drugs. NRTIs are thought to be therapeutic in HIV/AIDS patients because they target the enzyme reverse transcriptase, which is critical for replication of HIV. Previous work from the Ambati lab found that a type of toxic molecule called Alu RNA accumulate in the retina to cause dry AMD; interestingly, Alu RNA and HIV are similar in that they both require reverse transcriptase to fulfill their life cycle.” Read more.

    Meanwhile, “a new type of laser treatment has the potential to slow progression of age-related macular degeneration - a major cause of vision loss - without damaging the retina,” notes Medical News Today. “This was the conclusion of a study from the University of Melbourne in Australia, published in The FASEB Journal. Erica Fletcher, an associate professor in Melbourne's Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of a new low-impact, low-energy, laser treatment for patients with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD).” Read more.

    How Does Outside Activity Affect Myopia? The Question of a New Study

    “Despite what many parents may think, kids who spend a lot of time reading or squinting at tiny electronic screens aren't more likely to become nearsighted than kids who don't. However, that risk is only reduced if the child spends plenty of quality time outside,” says Science Daily. “The ‘outdoor effect’ on nearsightedness, or myopia, is a longstanding observation backed by both scientific and anecdotal evidence. It's so compelling that some nations in Asia, which have among the highest myopia rates in the world, have increased the amount of daily outdoor time for children in the hopes of reducing the need for glasses…’Data suggest that a child who is genetically predisposed to myopia are three times less likely to need glasses if they spend more than 14 hours a week outdoors,’ says optometrist Donald Mutti, OD, PhD, of The Ohio State University College of Optometry. ‘But we don't really know what makes outdoor time so special. If we knew, we could change how we approach myopia.’ Supported by a pilot grant from Ohio State's Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), Mutti is now focusing his research on the variables he feels have the most potential: invisible ultraviolet B rays (UVB) and vitamin D, and visible bright light and dopamine.” Read more.

    Tear Film Contributes to Contact Lens Discomfort?

    “Changes in the lipid layer of the eyes' natural tear film may contribute to the common problem of contact lens discomfort, reports a study in the December issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry,” according to Medical Xpress. “Applying a liposomal eyelid spray appears to reduce drying of the tear film and help make wearing contact lenses more comfortable, according to the pilot study by Fiona Stapleton, PhD, FAAO, of University of New South Wales, Sydney, and colleagues.” Read more.

    Heads-Up Display on Contacts. Sooner than You Think

    “Here's a hypothetical question: would you rather have a HUD [heads-up display] on glasses or a contact lens? If you answered ‘contact lens,’ the bad news is that you may be waiting some time... but the good news is that it just got a little more feasible, with the invention of the world's first 3D printer that can print LEDs,” posits CNET. “The team, led by Michael McAlpine at Princeton University's McAlpine Research Group, has successfully used its printer to 3D-print quantum dot LEDs -- LEDs that are considered the next step up from OLED. QLEDs shine brighter and with purer colour, at a lower power consumption rate, using cadmium selenide nanocrystals. They're also ultrathin, flexible and transparent -- like, for instance, contact lenses.” Read more.

    Video Games Improving Vision in People with Lazy Eye

    “Scientists have created video games that add an important element of fun to the repetitive training needed to improve vision in people - including adults - with a lazy eye and poor depth perception,” notes Medical News Today. “The training tools, including a Pac-Man-style "cat and mouse" game and a "search for oddball" game, have produced results in pilot testing: Weak-eye vision improved to 20/20 and 20/50 in two adult research participants with lazy eyes whose vision was 20/25 and 20/63, respectively, before the training began. Unlike the common use of eye patches on dominant eyes to make lazy eyes stronger, this type of testing uses a "push-pull" method by making both eyes work during the training. Patching is push-only training because the dominant eye remains completely unused. With push-pull, both eyes are stimulated but with the weaker eye exposed to more complex images that create a stronger stimulus.” Read more.

    Eyewear Art Stirs Up More Controversy

    “Michael Elion, the artist behind the giant Wayfarers staring at Robben Island, says he is open to the idea of his work becoming an open site of protest,” reports the Mail & Guardian. “Elion’s controversial artwork, partially sponsored by Ray-Ban eyewear manufacturer and called Perceiving Freedom, was spray-painted earlier this week as a statement against its corporate reflection. The work has been criticised on social media. The statue was positioned on the Sea Point promenade by Elion to commemorate Nelson Mandela, ‘because it would be crazy of me not to acknowledge that the device is looking at Robben Island.’ Mandela was incarcerated on the island for 18 of his 27 years as prisoner. A photograph of Mandela wearing similarly shaped glasses is positioned in the accompanying inscription. It was also stencilled with the words “Myopic Art” and images of slain Marikana miner Mgcineni Noki by the Tokolos Stencil Crew. This week, a petition calling for the artwork to be removed pending an investigation into, among other things, “how Art54 and the City of Cape Town allowed public art to function as advertising” was slowly gaining signatures. Artist Candice Breitz, who fielded a debate on the artwork on her Facebook page, was one of the 300 who had signed the petition by Wednesday.” Read more.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    Database Server Goes Missing at Visionworks Store

    More than five months ago, Visionworks, Inc., lost a database server from its Annapolis location on Jennifer Square. It went missing after it was replaced on June 2 during a scheduled upgrade. The company statement read: “The server potentially held partially unencrypted protected health information belonging to as many as 75,000 of the store’s customers. All credit card information housed on the server was encrypted, and therefore should not be at risk.” Thieves don’t make a habit of stealing encrypted servers. The company believes that the missing server accidentally was sent to one of the store’s local landfills, adding that there’s no reason to believe that any of the information residing has been accessed or used inappropriately. The retailer has notified the affected customers. It also is offering free credit monitoring for one year. Read more.

    Tribute or Insult to the Mandela Memory?

    “A giant pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses has become the most controversial artwork in South Africa,” says Global Post. “Yes, sunglasses — a hulking, steel-gray pair of Wayfarers, perched on a patch of grass along Cape Town's Sea Point promenade and angled in the direction of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were once held. Capetonians awoke Tuesday morning to find the sculpture defaced with a generous helping of spraypaint: “WE BROKE YOUR HEARTS” was written on the frames, and “REMEMBER MARIKANA” stenciled on the lenses, referring to the 2012 police shooting of striking mineworkers at the Marikana platinum mine.” Read more.

    New Eyewear from Zylowear

    “Zyloware Eyewear has announced the expansion of the Stetson Slims Collection in January 2015,” reports Midwest Lens. “Stetson Slims is appealing to men of all ages, with construction that is extremely lightweight, comfortable and fashionable while still maintaining the durability of a thicker zyl frame. Stetson Slim’s flexible stainless steel core wire temple eliminates the need for a bulky spring hinge or thick temple enhancing its lightness. When the Stetson Slims are worn, the weight is distributed throughout the zyl frame, relieving your nose of the pressure nosepads would normally leave. This makes Stetson Slims among the most comfortable zyl frame available.” Read more.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Actavis Acquires Allergan. Valeant Picks Up Nicox’s U.S. Ophthalmic Diagnostics Sub

    “After seven months of bids, bluster and lawsuits, the hedge fund manager William A. Ackman and Valeant Pharmaceuticals appear to be giving up their pursuit of Allergan, the maker of Botox, as another big drug maker has trumped their hostile bid,” reports the New York Times. “Allergan agreed on Monday to be acquired for $66 billion by Actavis in a deal worth $219 a share in cash and stock…Combining Actavis and Allergan will create one of the 10 largest global drug makers, with about $23 billion in revenue expected next year. Cost savings could total $1.8 billion annually, the companies said. The deal will combine Allergan’s blockbuster product, Botox, with a suite of Actavis drugs in areas like women’s health and dermatology.” Read more.

    Flush with cash from the Actavis deal, Valeant picks up Nicox Inc.’s U.S. ophthalmic diagnostics subsidiary for as much as $20 million, reports Reuters. Read more.

    How to Select the ‘Right’ Frame, according to R. Westbrook

    “You don't choose size of your nose, the color of your eyes, or the fullness of your brow (at least without the assistance of a plastic surgeon), but what you can do is accessorize those features with a great pair of glasses,” observers a GQ blogger. “Russell Westbrook, owner of a nice face to begin with, often opts to accent his features with colorful specs (see: here, here, and here). Taking his love affair with eyewear a step further, he recently launched his own line, Westbrook Fames, which has now partnered with JackThreads for a new line of shades, all coming in under $100. For thoughts on how best to frame the windows of your soul, we hit up Westbrook for some specific helpful tips.” Read more.

    New Eyewear from Maximum Minimalist

    “The new Airlock Collection is made for the Maximum Minimalist. Each frame is created with stainless steel, providing a durable and lightweight structure,” writes Midwest Lens. “Offering a rimless look, multiple silhouettes, handmade Zyl temples and a sophisticated color palette, the collection focuses on minimalistic styling with a contemporary twist. The collection utilizes the Dual Compression Mount System which is the most modern method for 3-piece mounting, providing faster fabrication time and no marks on the lens edge.” Read more.

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

    Losing Sight with ‘No’ Reason Why

    “The first hint the 68-year-old woman had that there was something really wrong with her eyes was that she kept having to enlarge the font on her computer. As a software analyst who spent most of her day in front of a screen, she knew that at times, usually in the late afternoon, bigger letters were easier on her eyes. But recently the words and letters blurred at all hours, and she found herself increasing the font size all the time. She hoped that it might be the screen — it was old and maybe not as sharp as it once was. But a new desktop display didn’t solve the problem,” writes Lisa Saunders, MD, in a New York Times Magazine article “Going Blind a Little at a Time.” “She went to her ophthalmologist. She’d always had pretty good vision, though she needed glasses for close work. Now an eyesight test showed that her eyes were much worse than they were the year before. The doctor examined her carefully. She had no cataracts. No sign of glaucoma. Her retinas were fine. Indeed, her eyes looked perfectly normal.” Read more.

    Google Glass on the Ropes?

    “After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday,” according to a Reuters post. “He'd left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product -- he recently wore his pair to the beach. But Brin's timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.” Read more.