Access. This word came up repeatedly during my interview with Tom Frinzi, worldwide president of Johnson & Johnson Vision’s surgical business. Specifically, how do you enable access to the best treatment options to all patients with eye disease? Domestically, globally, and in the developed and underdeveloped markets. Tom told me that providing access is his personal and professional mission and challenge. An audacious problem as easily solved as world hunger or peace in the Middle East, but that will not stop Tom, and others in the ophthalmic industry, from continuing to seek a solution.
There are approximately 285 million visually impaired people worldwide; 80% of those individuals have a curable eye disease but limited or no access to proper treatment, products or available technologies. Cataracts are the primary cause of preventable blindness worldwide, which is stunning considering how easy and painless cataract surgery is for most of us here in the U.S. It takes more visits, and is more uncomfortable, in my humble opinion, to undergo a root canal, and yet, even here, in the most advanced country in the world, we have people struggling with this treatable condition.
“J&J Vision has chartered a bold ambition to change the trajectory of eye health,” Tom told me. The goal is to help people, “See better. Connect better. Live better.”
Furthermore, “Even where eye care is widely available in developed markets, the fact that we haven’t been able to grow the premium market beyond 13% in the U.S. of all cataract procedures, and about 6% around the world, proves a huge challenge. These patients could benefit from extended depth of focus IOLs to help them see the world a little sharper and more seamlessly. To me, access — whether it be through philanthropy in impoverished areas globally or in the U.S. — means cracking the code that will enable the delivery of cutting-edge treatments to all.”
We discussed some of J&J Vision’s ambitious initiatives to whittle down that overwhelming number of 285 million, beginning with professional education. On average, more than 125,000 eye health professionals each year receive instruction through the Johnson & Johnson Institute. Trainings take place online and in person in cities across the country, and soon, at its new Surgical Vision Experience Center launching at the Johnson & Johnson Institute in Jacksonville, Florida. J&J Vision is committed to improving proficiencies, driving consistent high-quality outcomes and developing clinical confidence for surgeons — covering best practices for personalized approaches to IOL selection for cataract procedures, using topo-integrated wavefront-guided LASIK procedures, and diagnosing and treating the root cause of dry eye.
There is also a humanitarian arm of J&J Vision. It is a proud sponsor of the Himalayan Cataract Project with an extensive network of partners, and it also partners with Lions Clubs International and other local groups for the Sight for Kids program, which provides access to free eye exams, eyeglasses and eye health education.
The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” I believe industry-wide collaboration will generate access. And by joining forces, we would travel farther than a thousand miles. What do you think?
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- April Steinert can be reached at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: Steinert reports no relevant financial disclosures.