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Alternative to LASIK Increases Momentum with U.S. Consumers

- STAAR Surgical's Visian ICL(TM) Second Quarter Sales Increase by 38% as

Compared to Increased Second Quarter Declines in LASIK Procedures

-STAAR Surgical Announces New Consumer Website for Visian ICL

MONROVIA, Calif., July 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- STAAR Surgical Company (Nasdaq: STAA) announced today that its Visian ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens), a tiny, flexible lens implanted in the eye to correct refractive errors, continues to gain momentum with consumers in the U.S. market. The Visian ICL is often referred to as the "implantable contact lens" by patients and physicians. According to preliminary data from the company, U.S. sales of the Visian ICL grew 38% over the prior year period. During the second quarter this accelerating rate of Visian ICL growth contrasts sharply with an even more significant decline in LASIK vision correction procedures. According to a leading provider of LASIK vision correction services, laser-based refractive procedures had an approximate 40% decline during the second quarter. STAAR Surgical today also announced the launch of a newly revamped and enhanced website,, designed to help consumers more clearly understand the benefits of the Visian ICL.

"Despite reports that consumer confidence and discretionary spending are declining, an increasing number of refractive surgeons and their patients seeking an alternative to LASIK for vision correction are opting for the Visian ICL," said STAAR Surgical President and CEO Barry G. Caldwell. "We believe that part of the reason why the Visian ICL sales momentum in the U.S. is building has been the recent recommendation by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration Ophthalmic Device Panel to make clearer the risks associated with LASIK procedures. The recent media attention to the complications of LASIK as reviewed by the Panel has led to more patients asking more questions about the procedure and more seriously considering alternative procedures like the Visian ICL."

Concurrently the Visian ICL has attained greater market visibility through key opinion leaders among refractive surgeons. This is in part led by an ongoing program initiated by STAAR Surgical to help a select but growing group of surgeons understand and more fully utilize the technology in their refractive practices.

The Visian ICL is inserted into the eye during a short out-patient surgical procedure which can be performed in a surgeon's office. Insertion requires an incision size about the size of the opening on a ballpoint pen versus an incision size of over one inch required for LASIK in order to create the flap opening in the eye. This flap created for LASIK may take as long as 24 months to seal back into place in contrast to the quick healing process of the very small Visian ICL incision. While LASIK or PRK procedures permanently change the shape of the eye by using a laser to remove tissue, the Visian ICL does not require any removal of tissue. Though designed to remain permanently in the eye, it has the advantage that it can be removed or replaced. Visian ICL patients reported a greater than 99 percent satisfaction rate in a five- year follow-up of participants in a clinical study submitted to the FDA.

The number of consumer visits on the web site has more than doubled during the second quarter which has led to STAAR updating of the site to make it more consumer friendly and informative regarding the Visian ICL technology. Features of the newly renovated website include: a highly interactive home page which guides the viewer through the site, animated simulation of the benefits of High Definition Visian Vision, and new testimonials including several celebrity patients. The site also provides web content that will serve as a seamless extension of our customer's websites. The site will be launched officially today Monday July 14th and can be accessed at:

In June, STAAR announced plans for a consumer awareness internet campaign for the Visian ICL, based around surgeons' practices and to be conducted via a new website, Prospective Visian ICL patients will be invited to submit a one-minute video on why they opted for Visian versus other options, potentially including LASIK, earning them the possibility of winning a no-charge procedure. Web sites for the campaign are currently being developed for leading Visian ICL physicians around the country and the local contests are expected to begin next month at which time there will be an announcement of the contest rules. Finalists from local practices will be entered in a national internet-based contest in which the winning submission will be selected based on the most votes from site visitors.

About STAAR Surgical

STAAR is a leader in the development, manufacture and marketing of minimally invasive ophthalmic products employing proprietary technologies. STAAR's products are used by ophthalmic surgeons and include the Visian ICL, a tiny, flexible lens implanted to correct refractive errors, as well as innovative products designed to improve patient outcomes for cataracts and glaucoma. Manufactured in Switzerland by STAAR, the ICL is approved by the FDA for use in treating myopia, has received CE Marking and is sold in more than 40 countries. More information is available at

The contest for prospective Visian ICL patients will be administered through participating local practices in the United States only. STAAR is not soliciting and does not accept entries. After announcement see your local participant for rules and entry information. The contest may not be available in your region.

Second quarter U.S. ICL sales are based on preliminary quarterly financial data, which may be subject to change when complete results are announced.

Safe Harbor

All statements in this press release that are not statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including any statements of the plans, strategies, and objectives of management for future operations, statements of belief and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. These statements are based on expectations and assumptions as of the date of this press release and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties include the possibility that a decline in general economic conditions will decrease U.S. demand for elective procedures and reduce ICL sales, the possibility that negative publicity about complications of LASIK could reduce demand for all refractive procedures, our limited capital resources and limited access to financing, negative publicity resulting from past correspondence with the FDA and the integrity hold placed on our clinical activities, the challenge of managing foreign subsidiaries, the willingness of surgeons and patients to adopt a new product and procedure and other factors beyond our control, including those detailed from time to time in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There can be no assurance that the rate of growth in U.S. sales of Visian ICL experienced in the year to date will continue. STAAR assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future events or actual outcomes and does not intend to do so.

CONTACT: Investors Media

EVC Group EVC Group

Douglas Sherk, 415-896-6820 Chris Gale, 646-201-5431

Dahlia Bailey, 415-896-5862

SOURCE STAAR Surgical Company
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