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September 2015 Issue

Hawaiian Eye Meeting

In January of 2016, more than 1,200 comprehensive ophthalmologists, retina specialists, nurses/technicians and administrators will come together for Hawaiian Eye and Retina. With a foundation of approachable faculty, customized learning, intimate education, relevant updates and a great location, it has been rated as one of the best meetings in ophthalmology.

More than 130 of the industry’s foremost experts will also be at the meeting to share their experienced perspectives, using a variety of formats to update and engage the audience. The laid-back atmosphere and casual dress make open discussions comfortable for everyone. It’s truly an experience like no other.

SightLife is excited about attending the Hawaiian Eye meeting!  Will you be there?

Find out more here:



The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) annual conference will be held in Las Vegas November 14-17. AAO is the largest national membership association of ophthalmologists and medical and osteopathic doctors who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care. The mission of the AAO is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. At this year’s conference, SightLife will be in booth #3259. Please be sure to stop by!

Find out more about the AAO conference at this link:


H1 2015 update on global work/growth

SightLife created 12,000 new hands in the first half of 2015.

Claire Bonilla, our Chief Global Officer, recently visited India, where Col. Dr. M. Deshpande, Chief Medical Director at HV Desai Eye Hospital, relayed a phrase commonly used in India for the blind – “mouths with no hands.” The phrase alludes to the burden the blind put on their family, community, and government due to their inability to work.

SightLife Global Programs facilitated over 6,000 transplants in the first half of 2015, exceeding targets with 32% growth over 2014.  This is a major shift from last year’s performance, and we’re seeing the fruits of our labor in early 2015 when we restructured agreements and partner relationships, prioritizing opportunities and emphasizing growth. We continue to evolve our partnerships, with new models currently in negotiation to coordinate and/or consolidate eye banking activities for entire states with populations of 50 million or 2

Our quality management program continues a steady march towards total compliance at all partner eye banks.  While some eye banks are scheduled for the independent quality audit, others are already on their second year, with successful recertification audit proving that they can keep their quality processes compliant with international standards without SightLife intervention.

SightLife’s surgeon training program is on track with several training events completed this year in India, the most recent at LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad.  This DSEK training course followed previous courses at Disha Eye Hospital, Kolkata and Dr. R.P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, and New Delhi. In the first half of the year, 12 trained surgeons and 12 fellows completed the full curriculum including wet labs and patient surgeries. The purpose of our training program is to increase capacity and capability in-country.  We compare all participants’ surgical volume before and after the event, and track their growth over time.  So far we’ve seen 7% growth in participants’ surgical volume and expect to see more as the program continues to evolve and pull on the most influential motivational levers.

Reflecting back to the analogy of creating new hands by restoring sight to the blind – as our partner eye banks deliver around 12,000 transplants in total this year, we will put 24,000 hands back to work, moving the equivalent of an entire community from deficiency and dependence to a surplus in food, money, and karma if you will.

WA Medicaid

SightLife Lobbying Washington State Medicaid on Behalf of Surgeon Community and Recipients

SightLife has been spearheading a lobbying effort to obtain changes in reimbursement policy regarding corneal transplantation for DSHS and Medicaid patients in Washington State.  Currently, DSHS/Medicaid will only reimburse for corneal tissue for PKP procedures. The current reimbursement policy doesn’t account for any additional processing of the corneal tissue for DSAEK or DMEK procedures, requiring the facility to pay the balance of the corneal tissue invoice or offer the patient a PKP. In collaboration with NMD Healthcare Consulting, SightLife reached out to DSHS and has been asked to submit our updated tissue catalogue with pricing information. We will continue to engage with leadership at DSHS to advocate for the corneal blind of Washington State to ensure that they have access to the latest surgical techniques for corneal transplantation.


Experiencing Trouble Obtaining Full Reimbursement? Contact Us For Help.

If your practice has questions or is experiencing issues with obtaining full reimbursement for corneal transplantation procedures or for the corneal tissue by Medicare/Medicaid or Private Payers, you can contact SightLife or Ocular Systems for help.  We provide our customers with reimbursement consulting and guidance in billing corneal tissue to your local Medicare carrier and other commercial insurance carriers. We can help with:

  • Billing questions
  • Contract negotiations
  • Claims appeals

Our customers receive reimbursement consultation services free of charge. This service is provided by SightLife/Ocular Systems in collaboration with NMD HealthCare Consulting, and is designed to ensure that proper, timely reimbursement is received.

For reimbursement assistance, contact Rusty Kelly, Chief Marketing Officer at 415-254-5818 or via email at


SIGHTLIFE SERVICES: Distribution of Halo Product


SightLife, in partnership with Stephens' Instruments, is now offering HALO sterile tissue to our glaucoma and cornea surgeons. Halo was developed at Lions VisionGift's renowned Vision Research Laboratory. Halo sterile tissues are used by ophthalmic surgeons worldwide as a glaucoma shunt cover, epithelization substrate, tectonic support, or superficial patch graft to treat a variety of ocular conditions.

Halo sterile tissues provide surgeons with distinct procedural and cosmetic benefits including:

  • Easy-Peel Packaging—Patented packaging allows for quick introduction of sterile tissues to the surgical field, saving valuable OR time.
  • 99.9% clarity—Unlike traditional patches, Halo corneas are clear and will remain clear, resulting in simplified post-op assessment and improved patient cosmesis.
  • Stable Storage—Halo tissues can remain at room temperature and never need reconstitution, so you'll always be ready for emergencies, as well as scheduled procedures.

For more information on Halo sterile tissues, please contact Christina Psalms, Director of Business Development at 909-248-5847 or


SIGHTLIFE SERVICES: Education Sessions at AAO

Join SightLife (Booth #3259) at this year’s AAO conference in Las Vegas November 14–17. We will be hosting DMEK wet labs and EndoSerter device demonstrations throughout the weekend with some of the industry’s top surgeons.

Check the schedule below to find an education session that you’re interested in!

Insight to DMEK
With Yuri McKee, MD
11am to 12pm Saturday, November 14th

EndoSerter® Demonstration
With Terry Kim, MD
2pm to 3pm Saturday, November 14th

EndoSerter® Demonstration
With Deepinder Dhaliwal, MD
10:30am to 11:30am Sunday, November 15th

KeraKlear Artificial Cornea Session
With Yichieh Shiuey, MD
2pm to 3pm Sunday, November 15th

Pearls on Performing DMEK Procedures
With Neda Shamie, MD and Nicole Fram, MD
3pm to 4pm Monday, November 16th

To register for an educational session, or to learn more about what SightLife is doing at AAO, click here:
We look forward to seeing you at the conference!


Corneal Recipient to Celebrate the Gift of Sight as Rose Parade Float Rider

Lucia Vazquez, a 26-year-old Northern California native, was recovering from a successful kidney transplant when she noticed her vision was starting to deteriorate. She was diagnosed with Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE) syndrome, a very rare condition that causes damage to the cornea’s endothelium cells, leading to progressive loss of vision and episodes of ocular pain. Lucia was happy to learn that ICE can be treated with a corneal transplant. 

Her sister had lovingly donated the new kidney, but the cornea for Lucia’s transplant would need to come from someone she did not know who had graciously chosen to make their last act one of generosity.

After Lucia’s transplant, the family of her cornea donor took advantage of SightLife’s anonymous letter-writing program and sent a letter describing their vibrant and loving daughter. Lucia wrote back immediately, saying, “I am very touched and honored to have received a piece of your daughter who I thank for my new found vision. My transplant experiences have taught me to appreciate more and love deeper.” 

SightLife facilitates healing anonymous communication between donors and recipients. The letter-writing program allows recipients to express their thanks and donor families to describe their loved one. Surgeons also are encouraged to share anonymous recipient stories in support of donation by contacting SightLife’s Family Services Manager Rebecca Grossman at

Lucia will have another opportunity to thank and celebrate her organ donors on New Year’s Day when, sponsored by SightLife, she will ride on the DonateLife float entitled “Treasure Life’s Journey” in the 2016 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. As part of her experience, Lucia will have the opportunity to meet other thankful recipients and connect with donor families during a week of events leading up to the parade. Her sister and her surgeon, Dr. Douglas Holsclaw of Kaiser Permanente, will attend the festivities with Lucia, making the week even more special.

Lucia is pictured here holding her pet rabbit, Dennis, on the mountain where she wrote her letter to her donor family.  She closed it by saying “I am very grateful and thankful for your daughter.  I am also registered as a donor and hope to return the favor to someone in need. Your daughter is an angel and her gift was beautiful.”


Recommended Reading: Repeat DMEK: Secondary Grafts with Early Intervention Are Comparable with Fellow-Eye Primary Grafts

Marianne O. Price, PhD, Matthew T. Feng, MD, Yuri McKee, MD, Francis W. Price, Jr., MD.
To evaluate the outcomes of secondary DMEK after failed primary DMEK, a retrospective and interventional case series was conducted. Participants consisted of 55 DMEK recipients between the age of 42 and 89, and a paired fellow-eye analysis was performed with a subgroup of 29 patients who underwent secondary DMEK in one eye and successful primary DMEK in the fellow eye. Results showed that patients who received prompt intervention, in order to minimize the duration of the central corneal decompensation, had visual outcomes with secondary DMEK that matched the fellow-eye visual outcomes with primary DMEK. Click on the article below to read more on the case series. Read more »