AMO acquires WaveFront Sciences

Santa Ana, CA-In a move designed to boost its quest for the "custom all-laser LASIK," Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) has acquired WaveFront Sciences, Albuquerque, NM, for about $20 million.

Santa Ana, CA-In a move designed to boost its quest for the "custom all-laser LASIK," Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) has acquired WaveFront Sciences, Albuquerque, NM, for about $20 million.

The deal gives AMO proprietary technologies it hopes will accelerate next-generation diagnostics for refractive surgery. AMO agreed to pay $14 million cash at closing and pledged another $6 million more after meeting certain milestones over the next 3 years.

Privately held WaveFront Sciences develops and manufactures a high-resolution Shack-Hartmann-based aberrometer for precisely measuring the total refractive error and aberrations prior to laser vision correction. The company said the high-resolution device provides better data, leading to more accurate surgery and better outcomes.

"Our current system offers superior results to customers and is an essential component in our Advanced CustomVue offering," Borrmann said. "The acquisition of WaveFront Sciences will help us build on this and bring the next-generation platform to market faster."

AMO announced Jan. 8 it would acquire IntraLase Corp. and its femtosecond laser to incorporate with its Advanced Custom-Vue laser-vision-correction procedure (See Ophthalmology Times, Jan. 15, 2007, issue,). AMO said it hoped merging the technologies would lead to a new standard of care that no longer required a mechanical blade to create the flap for LASIK.

Tim Turner, WaveFront Sciences' chief executive officer, said joining the "best of all three worlds [excimer, femtosecond, and aberrometer] is fantastic.

"The expanded AMO portfolio provides doctors with leading-edge technologies with an emphasis on customization that will provide the best results and happy patients," Turner said. "As the leader in wavefront technology, our high-resolution systems provide the foundation of this process.

"We've always been fond of saying, 'If you can't measure it, you can't correct it.' Our aberrometers provide dramatically more information on the patient's optic path," he added.

WaveFront Sciences has 54 employees, most of whom are based in Albuquerque, with a smaller office in New Jersey. The company, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in September by doubling its office space to 24,000 square feet, also lends its technology for lasers, optics, optometry, and semiconductor metrology. Turner told New Mexico Business Weekly last September that the company had revenue of $7 million a year.

Its Complete Ophthalmic Analysis System (COAS) is used by Carl Zeiss Meditec as part of its MEL series of excimer lasers and by Schwind eye-tech-solutions GmbH for its ORK Wavefront Analyzer. Turner and James L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Carl Zeiss Meditec, said those relationships will continue under AMO's ownership.

"Zeiss has been a pioneer in wavefront technologies and designed some of the most advanced systems in the ophthalmic marketplace; there are also a number of additional global suppliers of wavefront sensors and diagnostic systems," Taylor said. "In that light, the company has multiple avenues available for the future and adequate time to make any needed transitions."

A lawsuit (initiated months prior to the transaction) is pending between IntraLase and Carl Zeiss Meditec in California Superior Court, Orange County, over charges that Carl Zeiss Meditec used confidential product information to develop its own femtosecond laser. Carl Zeiss Meditec demonstrated the laser at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in Las Vegas in November. Taylor denied the charge and said Carl Zeiss Meditec would "aggressively pursue all available defenses and remedies."

In addition to its work with Carl Zeiss Meditec and Schwind, WaveFront Sciences provided researchers around the world with first-, second-, and third-generation aberrometers for basic and leading-edge research.

"We will continue to support these customers as before, although we will clearly have a greater emphasis on refractive surgery as part of AMO," Turner said.