Dr. John Simon Goes Eyeball to Eyeball to Make Contact Lens Manufacturers See the Light
"I used to operate on these kids and expect the contact lenses would fail," says Simon, the father of two and an associate professor of ophthalmology at Albany Medical College. "But two years ago, when we started working with the Dow lenses, our results completely turned around. Of 60 patients we've treated, I can think of only one or two failures, when we used to think of one or two successes."
Simon decided to tackle the company head-on. On Jan. 19,1985 he telephoned Dan Hayes, then president of Dow Corning Ophthalmics, and followed up with a letter stating, "Without your lenses, many infants and children will be consigned to a lifetime of blindness." Simon then sent a copy to 280 pediatric ophthalmologists across the country. Parents also got involved. Jim Buzon, whose son had cataracts removed from both eyes at age 7 weeks, even passed out copies of Simon's letter on the street corner of Middleburgh, N.Y. (pop. 1,358). Before going on a local TV show, Simon alerted Dow Corning. The company had sobering second thoughts, and Hayes called to say that Dow would continue to make the lenses. "Truthfully," adds Dow Corning Vice-President Robert Rylee, "I was not aware of the significance of the product until we started hearing from the doctors."
Since then Bausch & Lomb has agreed to take over producing the pediatric silicone lens. Until its production is up to normal, Dow Corning will keep the lenses coming. "This transcends a business decision," says Rylee. "We will see to it that the children's needs are met."