OcuSource Announces Launch of Information and Auction Websites for Vision Impairment

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A resource for the vision impairment industry, OcuSource has launched its first two websites. OcuSource.com provides a doctor search tool, information, and a searchable product utility, while OcuTrade.com is an online auction service.

– OcuSource.com, LLC announced the launch of ocusource.com and ocutrade.com, two of a series of interconnected websites for the vision impairment industry. Designed to respond to the needs of consumers, resellers, agencies, and manufacturers, the sites provide utilities currently unavailable to the vision impairment industry. OcuSource.com’s mission is to enhance awareness and access to blindness and low vision technology worldwide.

According to a joint report from the National Eye Institute and Prevent Blindness America, there are over 119 million “baby boomers” in the US alone who are at risk for some form of vision impairment. The most common causes of vision loss include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Unfortunately, the trends show that the number of visually impaired individuals should double in less than three decades as the boomers age. OcuSource’s goal is to appeal to the boomer segment of the market that embraces technology and the internet at a much higher level than the previous generation.

OcuSource was founded by Dr. Lou Lipschultz, who has been providing low vision care to those who suffer from macular degeneration and other vision disorders for nearly 20 years. Lipschultz left his optometry practice in 2000 to assume the CEO position with Pulse Data International, the North American subsidiary of a New Zealand manufacturer of blindness and low vision products. “As a practitioner, it was difficult to keep track of the attributes of the various products,” states Lipschultz. “As an executive in the industry, I saw an entirely different set of challenges. The manufacturers, resellers, agencies, and organizations that assist the visually impaired need some way to get in touch with end users who require products,” states Lipschultz. It was this need that initiated the business plan for OcuSource. Dr. Lipschultz resigned his position with Pulse Data in the fall of 2003 and assembled a team of developers to create the OcuSource websites: OcuSource.com, OcuTrade.com, OcuBid.com, and OcuTrack.com.

“The blindness and low vision industry needs several resources to help it advance to the next level,” states Dr. Lipschultz, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area and still returns every month to his Chicago area eye practice to provide clinical low vision care. “For example, in the video magnification arena, there are more than a dozen manufacturers, each producing multiple devices with similar characteristics. It’s nearly impossible for a consumer to compare the characteristics of each device to make an informed decision. OcuSource resolves this difficulty,” states Lipschultz.

The most powerful utility created by OcuSource is the Product Analyzer Tool or “PAT,” a search engine which is present on each of the websites. Users can enter desired features to eliminate the products that do not meet their specifications, and then compare those that do so that they may select the product that best fits their needs. Users may then request information or a demonstration visit from the manufacturer’s representative. Users will also be able to buy directly from the manufacturer. “Establishing a sales mechanism on a national or worldwide level was particularly challenging,” states Lipschultz. “Our solution was to create consumer access to a vast array of products, facilitate the purchase, and then transfer the transaction to the manufacturer, who in turn forwards the sale on to the local reseller to install and provide the much needed support to the end user. This structure avoids potential concerns resellers and manufacturers might have due to territorial arrangements.”

Other key resources available on the OcuSource websites:

• “PAT” a search engine which allows users to explore products by features or specifications

• Auctions for buying or selling used products

• “Resource Finder” – a search utility for eye doctors, organizations, agencies, and support groups

• Searchable news archive

• Statistics on vision impairment and blindness

• Eye disease information pages and simulations

• Short surveys to obtain visitors’ opinions on living with vision impairment

• An online Visual Function Questionnaire (VFQ)

There is a great demand for used products, caused in part by the fixed incomes of the senior market. OcuTrade.com is a fully-enabled auction site, filled with all the capabilities of the big competitors. The advantage of OcuTrade.com over other auction websites is that it is specific to the vision impairment industry. With auction and classified ads, OcuTrade.com allows consumers and resellers to buy and sell all forms of low vision or blindness products.

“The business model of OcuSource is one that responds to the needs of the visually impaired consumer while providing manufacturers an additional marketing alternative. We’re trying to make it easier for the consumer to identify and locate adaptive devices” states Lipschultz. “Consumers have better access and manufacturers will gain with enhanced business.”

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Lou Lipschultz, OD
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