STAAR Surgical Goes Viral

As someone who is celebrating a second anniversary of perfect vision, I tend to be a strong proponent of the laser eye surgery. LASIK gets the majority of press and accolades, but alternatives do exist.

Staar Surgical
offers Visian ICL, an implantable collamer lens (ICL) inserted into the eye during a short surgical procedure. The lens is placed between the iris and the cornea via a small incision. The Visian ICL does not alter any structures within the eye or on the cornea. If necessary, it can be removed.

Staar received a CE Mark for its first ICL in 1997. In December 2005, the product was approved by the FDA for the treatment of nearsightedness. The ICL has been implanted in 60,000+ eyes to date.

Sales Increasing

The company announced last week that ICL sales are increasing even as the number of LASIK procedures declines (blame a soft of U.S. economy). In its second quarter, U.S. Visian ICL sales exceeded the total sales for both the first quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2007.

Barry Caldwell, President and CEO of Staar, believes attention from “new media” is partially responsible for generating consumer interest. In the hopes of continuing this trend, the company will launch its first viral marketing initiative, a national consumer video competition.

Prospective Visian ICL patients will be invited to submit a one-minute video on why they opted for the Visian procedure over other options (presumably LASIK). Participants will compete for a free procedure.

Given the high cost of patient recruitment (especially online, where the keyword ‘lasik’ costs $8 – $11) generating a modest return on this campaign could lead more ophthalmologists to explore viral marketing online.

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