Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lens Company Stays in Focus Cima Life's Optics Help Restore Sight for Cataract Patients

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lens Company Stays in Focus Cima Life's Optics Help Restore Sight for Cataract Patients

Article excerpt

Jash Sharma is a kidney specialist who wants to restore people's sight.

The 71-year-old physician semi-retired from practicing medicine six years ago but he remains full time as president and CEO of Cima Life Science, a Plum firm that makes and distributes intraocular lenses throughout the world. Surgeons use the lenses to restore sight for those with blinding cataracts.

Cima Life, founded 25 years ago, operates out of a 10,000- square-foot facility where its 22 employees design, manufacture, test, package and ship intraocular lenses to 30 countries - from India and Vietnam to Argentina to Bulgaria. Last month, Dr. Sharma was named exporter of the year by the Pittsburgh district of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Cima, which means "summit" in Spanish, is a privately held company and currently markets two types of intraocular lenses: one made of a rigid, acrylic-based material and a foldable model made from a co-polymer. Revenues were not disclosed.

It's also working on a next-generation hydrophobic lens for which the company plans to seek FDA approval next year to sell in the U.S.

It's not a small investment. Dr. Sharma said, "We would have to spend millions of dollars to go through clinical trials" to get FDA approval.

With some 3.5 million eye surgeries performed yearly in the U.S., though, the investment should be worth it.

The inspiration for this enterprise was Dr. Sharma's father, Pandit Deendayal Sharma. After working for a textile factory for 40 years, the elder Sharma lost most of his sight in 1982 at age 65 due to glaucoma in one eye and an infection in the other.

That hardly slowed him down, his son recalled, as Mr. Sharma insisted on walking to the local market by himself even after his vision was reduced to a blur. Not only that, his deteriorating sight prompted the elder Sharma to establish a foundation that sponsored quarterly "eye camps" where villagers from the town of Mahendragarh and the surrounding area southwest of New Delhi would come for vision screenings.

Mr. Sharma's biggest project, though, was to establish an eye hospital where eye surgeries could be done. …

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