MONROVIA, Calif., July 14 STAAR Surgical Company(Nasdaq: STAA) announced today that its Visian ICL (Implantable CollamerLens), a tiny, flexible lens implanted in the eye to correct refractiveerrors, continues to gain momentum with consumers in the U.S. market. TheVisian ICL is often referred to as the "implantable contact lens" by patientsand physicians. According to preliminary data from the company, U.S. sales ofthe Visian ICL grew 38% over the prior year period. During the second quarterthis accelerating rate of Visian ICL growth contrasts sharply with an evenmore significant decline in LASIK vision correction procedures. According toa leading provider of LASIK vision correction services, laser-based refractiveprocedures had an approximate 40% decline during the second quarter. STAARSurgical today also announced the launch of a newly revamped and enhancedwebsite, http://www.visianinfo.com, designed to help consumers more clearlyunderstand the benefits of the Visian ICL.
"Despite reports that consumer confidence and discretionary spending aredeclining, an increasing number of refractive surgeons and their patientsseeking an alternative to LASIK for vision correction are opting for theVisian ICL," said STAAR Surgical President and CEO Barry G. Caldwell. "Webelieve that part of the reason why the Visian ICL sales momentum in the U.S.is building has been the recent recommendation by a U.S. Food and DrugAdministration Ophthalmic Device Panel to make clearer the risks associatedwith LASIK procedures. The recent media attention to the complications ofLASIK as reviewed by the Panel has led to more patients asking more questionsabout the procedure and more seriously considering alternative procedures likethe Visian ICL."
Concurrently the Visian ICL has attained greater market visibility throughkey opinion leaders among refractive surgeons. This is in part led by anongoing program initiated by STAAR Surgical to help a select but growing groupof surgeons understand and more fully utilize the technology in theirrefractive practices.
The Visian ICL is inserted into the eye during a short out-patientsurgical procedure which can be performed in a surgeon's office. Insertionrequires an incision size about the size of the opening on a ballpoint penversus an incision size of over one inch required for LASIK in order to createthe flap opening in the eye. This flap created for LASIK may take as long as24 months to seal back into place in contrast to the quick healing process ofthe very small Visian ICL incision. While LASIK or PRK procedures permanentlychange the shape of the eye by using a laser to remove tissue, the Visian ICLdoes not require any removal of tissue. Though designed to remain permanentlyin the eye, it has the advantage that it can be removed or replaced. VisianICL patients reported a greater than 99 percent satisfaction rate in a five-year follow-up of participants in a clinical study submitted to the FDA.
The number of consumer visits on the visianinfo.com web site has more thandoubled during the second quarter which has led to STAAR updating of the siteto make it more consumer friendly and informative regarding the Visian ICLtechnology. Features of the newly renovated website include: a highlyinteractive home page which guides the viewer through the site, animatedsimulation of the benefits of High Definition Visian Vision, and newtestimonials including several celebrity patients. The site also provides webcontent that will serve as a seamless extension of our customer's websites.The site will be launched officially today Monday July 14th and can beaccessed at: http://www.visianinfo.com.
In June, STAAR announced plans for a consumer awareness internet campaignfor the Visian ICL, based around surgeons' practices and to be conducted via anew website, http://www.mybesteyes.com. Prospective Visian ICL patients willbe in