Vision Service Plan (VSP) and Frame Companies Fighting – VSP Can Be The Only Winner

VSP has a very large number of individuals enrolled in their vision care plans, and has many eye care providers on their panel. Until the last year or so, VSP concentrated its efforts on the business of delivering eye care to its enrollees. Just a little over a year ago, VSP purchased a major frame manufacturer, Marchon. Putting VSP not only in the vision care business, but also in the eyeglass frame business.

As of late, VSP is having trouble keeping the two separate. A very successful frame manufacturer/distributor, Aspex, has had some issues with VSP, which are not related to product quality or support as far as I can tell. For reasons that have not been spelled out by VSP to providers or enrollees, as of June 1st, 2010, patients will not be able to use their benefits for Aspex frames. Even though we have been providing these high quality frames to our patients for quite some time, we are now in a difficult position. Stop selling Aspex frames (its not really advantageous for us to use a frame line that we can’t supply to our VSP patients given the cost of keeping the inventory available and supporting the product), tell our VSP patients “too bad, you will have to choose something else, even if you just want to reorder your frame” or some other option which we are trying to come up with.

You can rest assured that we are taking the side of our patients, not VSP on this matter. I hope that we don’t end up dropping Aspex frames over this, but it may come down to that. All because VSP wants to control a competitor’s access to patients and business. It would be in everyone’s interest if VSP would remain a vision care benefits company and not try to advance their frame business at the expense of their patients and providers.

A resounding Boooo to VSP from our office.

Dr. Warren

Now What? Regarding Health Care

With the win by Mr. Brown in Massachusetts today will there be more thought and due process put into the health care reform process? I sure hope so. Our current system needs to be changed, without a doubt.
My family and I feel the effects of the current health care system every month when I make our over $700 premium payment for a plan with a $5,ooo deductible and no pharmacy coverage. I also feel it when my staff processes insurance explanation of benefits (referred to as an EOB) and the payment from the insurance company is at or below the level that I received five or more years ago.

So I’m paying more for my premium (over twice what I was paying five to seven years ago) and the insurance companies are paying less for the care that I provide. It seems that the money is being lost in the middle. Is it any coincidence that insurance colmpanies have spent so much money fighting health care reform?

All sides will probably have to accept change in order to reform the US health care system. The plan brought forward by the Obama administration isn’t a workable solution. If doctors are already refusing to see Medicare patients (One of the Mayo Clinics in the Phoenix area already has), just imaging what will happen if the 21% cut in Medicare payments goes through, as part of health care reform or on its own.

Its sure a mess…..


Avocational Pursuits

After listening to my 11 year old son play his 6 string electric guitar, I finally took the plunge and have started playing 4 string electric bass.  What a great outlet, I’m not any good at all yet, but I’ve gotten to the point that I’ll jam away in the basement and really enjoy myself.

One of the best things that I did was buy a decent bass.  I picked up (actually an early Christmas present from my lovely wife Carmen) a Peavey BXP NTB at Schmitt music here in Racine.  Its a gorgeous piece of workmanship with its natural wood finish finish and I love the narrow (referred to as “fast” by us guitar players <G>) neck.

I’m only a bit more than a month into my guitar career, and I don’t think that I’ll be giving up the eye doctor gig any time soon, but it sure is fun!


News And Information – How Do You Get Yours?

I’ve been consuming more and more news and information from non-traditional sources.  I now find that my morning “information search/retrieval” is more centered around my iPhone/Computer than ever before.  I do the following each morning:

  • Read my emails, which catches me up with friends, family and colleagues and generates lots of information which I may follow up on via links in emails
  • Cruise through my FaceBook account to see what friends have been up to/are up to
  • Read Twitter (I have two accounts, one personal and one for my practice), this gets me a ton of information and links to stories of interest.  It takes awhile to get a decent list of people on Twitter that you follow, but once you do, you hear about many things quickly
  • Check out the AP News app on my iPhone which is set to grab any local stories of interest
  • Review USA Today on my iPhone which I use for national news and other stories, they have some very good “off the beaten path” pieces in many of their sections
  • Read the “Racine Post” which is a local online news source

Its only after the above activities, which usually only takes me 5-10 minutes, that I turn on the radio and listen to either FM drive time for entertainment or AM talk radio/news.  I don’t read any newspapers on a regular basis.  I simply don’t need to.  I will visit the occasionally, usually when pointed that way via Twitter, and occasionally will read  With more and more of the traditional print media serving up their information via the internet (either on a computer or even better a phone), its simply much easier, more efficient and free to gather the information that way.

For professional information/education, I listen to several different podcasts (usually when traveling and sitting on airplanes or in airport terminals).  The amount of information that is available via iTunes is incredible.  iTunes U allows you to listen and many times even watch courses that you may find of interest.

So, how do you get your information?……..


Detecting Glaucoma

One of the things that has changed the most about the clinical care is the approach to detecting and diagnosing Glaucoma.  When I started practicing, Glaucoma was thought to be a disease of the optic nerve caused by excessive pressure inside the eye.  We measured the pressure inside the eye and looked at the optic nerve on a regular basis and figured that we were doing all that we could and should for our patients.

Along came the microprocessor and the whole game changed.   We now had better ways to measure the function of the optic nerve (testing referred to as Visual Field Testing) since the computer could do a better and more accurate (not to mention faster, which is very patient friendly) job of evaluating our patient’s vision.  We also started to find more and more patients who sufferedn from progressive damage to the optic nerve, even though we felt that we had their pressure well controlled.  I started to see enough of these patients that I wondered if we were doing some of our Glaucoma patients any favors by treating them with drops or surgery to lower their pressure.

In the last few years, we have gained the ability to measure the structures in the back portion of the eye such as the optic nerve and macular thickness and we’ve started to understand the disease a bit better.   We now know that quite a bit of structural damage can occur before we see consistent change in the visual fields of our patients.  The visual field test is quite subjective, meaning that if the patient “has a bad day” or is otherwise distracted, the data from that day’s test may be inaccurate and result in compromised decision making on our part.  New technology such as the Retinal Thickness Analyzer that we use in our office however, helps take teh subjective testing problems out of the equation, giving us objective ways to evaluate our patient’s ocular health.

So why did I bore you with this long blog post?  Just to let you know that we are using the latest and greatest technology at Warren Eye Care to detect Glaucoma as early as possible in our patients!  We use the Vision Wellness Examination that the Retinal Thickness Analyzer performs as part of our quest to detect and appropriately treat vision threatening conditions as early as possible.

Bausch and Lomb Solution Changes/Un-Changes

Bausch and Lomb have renamed and will be repackaging their contact lens solutions.  Don’t be confused by the name change, the solutions are the same and will still work well for you.  Here’s a press release that B&L put out about the changes.

Bausch & Lomb Vision Care (B&L) announces a renewed focus on its ReNu brand of lens care solutions through a U.S. consumer need-based rebranding effort that introduces eye care practitioners and consumers to ReNu Fresh Lens Comfort and ReNu Sensitive Eyes. Additionally, the company has recently established a dedicated U.S. lens care solution and eye care product sales force that is primarily responsible for engaging with eye care practitioners and keeping them updated on the benefits of B&L products for their patients and their practice.

ReNu Fresh Lens Comfort, formerly ReNu MultiPlus, is specifically designed to keep contact lenses feeling like a fresh pair every day. The formula is the only multi-purpose solution on the market with Hydranate, a clinically-tested ingredient that removes protein deposits that accumulate during wear. It also contains poloxamine to help remove dirt and debris and enhance wettability and moisture retention for a more comfortable feeling throughout the day, as well as DYMED, which provides unsurpassed disinfection efficacy, according to the company.

To support the introduction of Fresh Lens Comfort solution, B&L has launched a fully integrated consumer marketing campaign which includes the website, a free-standing advertising insert distributed in newspapers nationally, in-store shelf talkers and banners, and an online advertising and search keyword campaign.

Additionally, B&L has repositioned its ReNu Multi-Purpose Solution as ReNu Sensitive Eyes. Available in new packaging at stores nationwide in July 2009, this multi-purpose solution is designed specifically for lens wearers who want a gentle formula. ReN

Renu Sensitive Eyes features fewer ingredients and is intended to provide gentle cleaning without sacrificing performance and a high level of disinfection for healthy lens wear, per the company. B&L will also launch a fully integrated consumer campaign to support the ReNu Sensitive Eyes solution.

B&L has also established a dedicated U.S. sales force known as the Eye Care Specialist (ECS) team. Tasked with reaching out to the medical community and driving engagement, the ECS team is currently focusing on reaching eye care practitioners in the eastern half of the U.S. The program may also expand to the western half of the country next year.