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Vital Signs

The Healthcare Business Blog

Deals growing for eye-care firms

By Beth Kutscher

Eye-care firms continue to be a hot target this year as pharmaceutical and medical-device firms see a growing market for ophthalmology procedures.

Abbott Laboratories, the Illinois-based medical-device giant, is shelling out $250 million for OptiMedica Corp., which makes technology for laser-assisted cataract surgery. The deal comes less than two months after Valeant Pharmaceuticals' $8.7 million buy of Bausch & Lomb.

Abbott and Bausch already compete in a number of areas in the eye-care arena. Both companies market intraocular lenses, laser systems and over-the-counter products.

Laser-assisted surgery is expected to be the wave of the future for cataract surgery, much like improvements in laser technology revolutionized LASIK several years ago. In addition, the demand for eye care is likely to increase thanks to an aging population as well as a growing middle class in developing countries that will be able to seek out technologically advanced eye-care procedures.

Abbott's latest deal adds OptiMedica's Catalys Precision Laser System to its portfolio; the technology platform automates some of the steps involved in cataract surgery—including the surgical incision in the eye and the removal of the clouded lens.

Abbott already markets a similar laser technology for LASIK surgery. Bausch & Lomb's Victus platform can perform both cataract and LASIK procedures, according to the company.

There are also at least two other companies with this laser technology—called femtosecond—for cataract surgery: Alcon, which markets LenSx, and Lensar, which has a product bearing its name.

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher

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