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EyePod: Week in Review - July 2, 2023


Take a look at a review of the highlights and hottest stories from Ophthalmology Times during the week of July 2, 2023.

Online learning tools can help medical students and residents hone diagnostic skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted every aspect of life and forced the creation of online methods by which medical students and ophthalmology residents could continue to become proficient in establishing retinal diagnoses. In a recent study, most users of an online retina teaching tool reported that the material provided sufficient value to repeat quizzes more than once and demonstrated measurable performance improvements.

Researchers from the University of Miami, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, evaluated the ability of the tool to help trainees recognize key pathologies seen in fundus examinations and OCT images. They reported their findings at the recent Real World Ophthalmology conference in Marco Island, Florida.

The investigators wanted to determine how well online learning helped them meet that goal.

They reported that a collection of fundus photographs and OCT scans was amassed. The images featured basic pathologic features and diagnoses and were annotated to highlight the key findings, and explanations were written describing the images and corresponding diagnoses. The images were compiled into multiple-choice quiz modules: 1 fundus module, 1 beginner OCT module, and 1 intermediate O C T module, and then published on a 100 percent free online web platform at EyeGuru.org.

Based on their data, the authors concluded that this type of learning tool that targets ophthalmologists in training fills a gap in online retina education and helps ease the individual’s transition between medical school and residency.

A judge recently denied a hospital’s request for summary judgment in a case against an ophthalmologist.

Cumberland County Hospital System will have to do more to prove an ophthalmologist torpedoed its investment in a joint eye care practice, according to a North Carolina Superior Court decision.

Special Superior Court Judge Mark A. Davis on June 27 ruled that Michael Woodcock, MD’s failure to answer court filings did not mean he admitted his guilt in the allegations made by the hospital.

Cumberland County Hospital System was seeking summary judgment, and Davis denied that request even though Woodcock did not respond to the hospital’s request for admissions, arguing that his lack of response was the result of some miscues that he maintains were in part the fault of the hospital.

According to court documents, Davis said in the ruling that there was indeed some confusion in serving the inquiries and the hospital failed to level a convincing argument that the case would be prejudiced by letting Woodcock respond.

The seeds of the court case were sown in 2018, when Woodcock and the hospital entered into a joint eye care practice, with the physician retaining majority ownership of the ophthalmology practice, according to Law 360.

By 2019, the partnership became troubled, according to court documents, when Woodcock allegedly started a scheme to devalue the practice so that he could buy out the hospital's ownership at a lower cost.

The hospital alleged that Woodcock ended 250,000 thousand dollar monthly payments to the practice and paid himself 600,000 dollars, and in 2021 allegedly gave himself 2 million dollars of practice funds and gave the hospital 150,000 dollars with no paper trail to show how the amounts were determined.

As a result of the allegations, the hospital leveled claims of breach of contract and other claims in a lawsuit filed in 2021.

However, according to court records, Woodcock maintained that his actions were in keeping with the initial 2018 agreement.

New horizons in interventional glaucoma

Interventional glaucoma is often described as a proactive rather than reactive mind-set, with a more aggressive approach to early procedural intervention over a reliance on polypharmaceutical options in the mild to moderate spectrum of glaucoma. It encompasses laser treatments, novel drug delivery systems, and the large and growing category of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS).

Dr. Neda Shamie points out that many of the current MIGS procedures must be performed at the time of cataract surgery or require a clear corneal incision, which puts them squarely within the purview of cataract surgeons. However, there are several barriers that have contributed to slower adoption of the interventional glaucoma mindset, including procedural muscle memory, a lack of understanding of which patients are the best candidates for which procedure, practice protocols that are not glaucoma focused, and a lack of familiarity with gonioscopy and/or visualization and identification of the anatomy of the angle.

Of course, these barriers are surmountable with education. Dr. Shamie personally perform MIGS procedures regularly and has become an enthusiastic proponent.

Dr. Shamie notes that surgeons know from cataract and corneal refractive surgery that the “high-tech” nature of laser treatments is very appealing to patients. In order for these procedures to fit well into the fast-paced environment of a typical anterior segment practice, companies will also have to provide not just surgical training, but also guidance on staff training, practice integration, and workflow.

Bausch + Lomb expands OTC product line with acquisition of Blink Eye Drops

Bausch + Lomb announced an affiliate has purchased the Blink product line of eye and contact lens drops from Johnson & Johnson Vision.

According to the company, the acquisition is the latest example of the company’s commitment to increasing over-the-counter consumer convenience in eye care.

Under the terms of the deal, Bausch + Lomb agreed to acquire the Blink product line for 106.5 million dollars with cash on hand, according to a company news release.

According to a 2022 Gallup Study, 57 percent of American adults report suffering from eye dryness, and of them, nearly half (48 percent) use over-the-counter lubricant drops to obtain relief.

The Blink portfolio of eye drops consists of a variety of eye drops and contact lens rewetting drops that provide immediate and long-lasting symptom relief.

The products that are part of the acquisition include the following:

  • Blink Tears Lubricating Eye Drops;
  • Blink Tears Preservative Free Lubricating Eye Drops;
  • Blink GelTears Lubricating Eye Drops;
  • Blink Triple Care Lubricating Eye Drops;
  • Blink Contacts Lubricating Eye Drops; and
  • Blink-N-Clean Lens Drops.
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