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CRU 2023: New technologies and advances in the contact lens field, plus the new paradigm in specialty lenses


CRU 2023 will cover a host of topics, including a co-led presentation by Drs Deborah Jacobs and Melissa Barnett on the latest advancements in the contact lens field.

Deborah S. Jacobs, MD, who is part of the faculty for the CRU Eye Symposium, caught up with Optometry Times®' assistant managing editor, Emily Kaiser, to talk about the meeting.

CRU is an acronym that stands for "current, relevant, useful," and the second annual symposium will be held November 10-12, 2023, at the Silverado Resort in Napa Valley, California. S. Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO, FSLS; Stephanie Woo, OD, FAAO, FSLS; and John D. Gelles, OD, FAAO, FIAOMC, FCLSA, FSLS, FBCLA, are the co-chairs of the meeting, with honorary ambassador Vance Thompson, MD, FACS.

If you are interested in attending the CRU meeting, click here to register.


Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily Kaiser:

Hi, everyone. I'm Emily Kaiser with Optometry Times, and I'm sitting down with Dr Deborah Jacobs, who is part of the faculty at the Current, Relevant, Useful—or CRU—meeting, which will be held in Napa Valley, California in November of 2023. Welcome, Dr Jacobs, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Deborah S. Jacobs, MD:

Thank you very much, Emily. I'm very happy to be here and look forward to being at CRU in the fall.


Yeah, me too. So, just to start, why should optometrists be excited about CRU?


Well, it's a nice opportunity to up your skills and knowledge at a very pleasant venue with wonderful food and drink. It's also [a] relaxed atmosphere where there's opportunity to interact with faculty and learn something beyond the presentations, and to interact with other attendees. So, it's great for developing professional contacts, networking, and having fun.


Fantastic. And what are you most excited to share with attendees?


Well, I've been tasked with talking about new technologies and advances in the contact lens field. I'm an ophthalmologist, not an optometrist, [but] I work in this space, where optometry and ophthalmology overlap, in the realm of therapeutic lenses. Although only a small fraction of optometrist have this as the main part of their practice, there have been so many advances and fitting the specialty lenses is easier and easier.

I think it's really important for every optometrist to be aware of the advances and think about integrating some of these newer technologies into their practices. It's a way of helping patients even more [and] it's a way of building the practice, because you don't have to refer out.

The advances have been breathtaking in the last 15 years, particularly with regard to scleral lenses, which are near and dear to my heart. I think that this is a really great opportunity for folks to, if not add it to their practice, at least be familiar so they understand what's out there and can make the most appropriate referrals.


Fantastic. That sounds really, really interesting. What sets the CRU meeting apart from other conferences in your mind?


I have to say this is my first time participating in the CRU meeting, but one thing that sets it apart is that it is a combination of optometry and ophthalmology faculty. I wish it were not such a rarity, but the sad fact is that optometrists tend to attend meetings staffed only by optometrists and ophthalmologists tend to attend meetings staffed only by [opthalomologists]. We can learn from each other and advance all of our practices.

When I lecture on scleral lenses or on new modalities, I like to say we teach about the new paradigm, as far as keratoconus. I think this is a really important lesson. I believe nobody should be referred for keratoplasty until they've tried and failed a specialty lens, hybrid or scleral.

I think that both optometrists and ophthalmologists need to appreciate that cornea transplant is not a cure. The old paradigm was to use a gas permeable corneal lens until the patient couldn't be corrected or couldn't tolerate the lens, then refer to keratoplasty. But [with] keratoplasty, half [of] those patients end up back in lenses. It's not a cure, and you can avoid keratoplasty by going to specialty lenses.

There's a lot of good data—and not just from my practice of origin, Boston Sight in Massachusetts, but from other practices across the US and, indeed, around the world. That's what I'm going to talk about a little bit, this new paradigm.

I think it's really exciting for people to come up to speed in what's going on globally and to learn what's out there. I have to say, I'm impressed that the specialty lens manufacturing world has come up with better and better trial kits, training methods, and online training. Specialty lenses used to be really a funny, little niche for a few people who wanted to drive themselves crazy trying to fit these patients and get lenses to work. Now, it's easier and easier for people in practice, out in the community, with better and better lenses that have high, high success rates, and most importantly, great patient satisfaction.

I think if you want to up your game and up your practice, there's going to be good stuff at this CRU meeting. I think my own talk with Melissa Barnett, [who will] be co-teaching with me, is going to be terrific, and I think that the other content will be, as well.


Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing and taking the time to talk to me, and I can't wait to see you in California.


Okay, thank you very much. I look forward to being there.

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