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Today's Practice | Feb 2013

Successful Formulas for Surgeon-Industry Collaborations

Companies and surgeons comment on the importance of these relationships.

As CRST Europe readers know, ophthalmology is a specialty in which both physicians and industry professionals strive to make possible the best patient care. It is in this sort of environment that innovation thrives, and bringing new ideas to fruition requires collaboration among industry and medical professionals. With this in mind, CRST Europe reached out to leading ophthalmic companies to discover their insights into physician-industry partnerships and the role these relationships can play in product development.


The biggest advances in ophthalmic medical device technology have occurred and continue to occur because of collaboration among ophthalmologists and scientists. This trend started with cataract surgeons designing new IOL models on paper napkins in the 1970s and 1980s and persists today with the latest developments in excimer and femtosecond laser technologies.

This team-based approach has been a guiding light throughout Aaren Scientific’s past, and it is still of utmost importance today. In Aaren’s 20-plus years as a cataract device company, the key to our advances has always been our relationships with surgeons and innovators. Currently, Aaren is making cataract IOL advances based on the advice of its customers and surgeons.

Aaren is developing an advanced femtosecond laser platform in collaboration with Josef Bille, PhD. This device will allow surgeons to change the refractive index of an IOL that is already implanted in a patient’s eye. The ability to fine-tune an IOL has the potential to revolutionize cataract surgery one more time—in part, thanks to highly effective physician-industry collaboration.


Over the past 30 years, DORC International has grown into a successful worldwide business. Intensive cooperation with ophthalmic surgeons from around the globe, together with DORC’s passion for innovation, continues to result in high-quality products and innovation.

Our clients—surgeons from all four corners of the world— are DORC’s focal point. Our approach is both personal and professional. We do everything possible to realize innovative and affordable solutions, and all of our efforts are subject to high ethical and moral standards. That is why surgeons like to work with us; inspired by you, created by DORC.

One of the most recent outcomes of DORC’s close cooperation with surgeons is the EVA machine for cataract and vitreoretinal procedures. The EVA VacuFlow VTi is a fluid control system that uses pistons, valves, and pressure sensors to control the transportation of fluids in either vacuum or flow modes; thereby, EVA eliminates the risk of unwanted pulsation and delivers the precise flow or fast vacuum capabilities required by surgeons.


Progress through innovation has always been the driving force of Oculentis and will remain so in the future. Novel IOL designs such as the Lentis Mplus are proof of the company’s dedication to innovation. Oculentis will continue to tackle challenges in ophthalmology and provide solutions to improve outcomes. Therefore, exciting research topics and the future development of premium IOLs are regularly discussed in a coordinated exchange of ideas among surgeons, scientists, and Oculentis. All developmental ideas are considered, for only through a user-oriented research-and-development (R and D) effort can physicians’ and patients’ needs be targeted and better addressed in the future.

Oculu s optikgerÄte gmbh

By Michael W. Belin, MD, FACS
Industry-physician collaboration is an integral part of medical progress and should be encouraged, in contrast to many governments’ views that such collaboration represents a conflict of interest. Few companies have the clinical knowledge to direct their efforts to areas of need, and very few physicians have the technical ability or funding to bring their own concepts to fruition.

The Belin/Ambrosio Enhanced Ectasia Display on the Oculus Pentacam is a perfect example of an effective physician-industry collaboration, in which two well-known experts in the field of corneal imaging realized the potential added benefits of rotating Scheimpflug imaging. The Belin/Ambrosio Enhanced Ectasia Display represents not only physician-industry collaboration, but also international physician collaboration. Dr. Ambrosio and I worked closely with the R and D departments at Oculus to produce the widely used display that assists refractive surgeon in screening patients for early ectatic disease.


PhysIOL develops and manufactures monofocal, toric, and multifocal (trifocal) IOLs. At our company, the creation and development of a new implant can have one of two starting points: (1) After a decision-making process with the marketing department, the R and D department of PhysIOL begins to develop a new product. From its conception on, we call on medical experts to validate our theoretical ideas. (2) The original idea comes from a physician. If the R and D and marketing departments validate the concept, the implant will be developed by PhysIOL in close collaboration with the physician who proposed the idea.

In both situations, once the new implant has received Conformité Européenne certification, we perform postmarketing surveillance of the device with experienced practitioners and in accordance with European regulations.


At Ziemer, we have thoroughly incorporated the concepts of “time to listen, passion to design, power to build.” In our experience, close collaboration between industry and a team of physicians helps to identify pitfalls and to critically verify the chosen pathways. We appreciate physicians’ perspectives, especially in the design of the handling of surgical components or surgical workflow.

In the end, we all share the same goal: to provide a safe and effective product for patients and surgeons. Throughout the design process, we work closely with our partnering medical advisors. Last but certainly not least, one fundamental element should not be underestimated: Close physician involvement ensures high quality of subsequent product training during the introduction phase.