Top 100 Entrepreneur of the Year: Encore is seeing clearly to future

Bill Burns

Encore Vision

Bill Burns

Fact Box

Encore Vision Inc

- FWBP Digital Partners -

1120 South Freeway

Suite 118

Fort Worth 76104

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Encore Vision Inc.’s Bill Burns has been working on a product that could solve a problem that has plagued humans for centuries.

Now, after about a decade of work, he appears within sight of realizing that goal.

The Fort Worth startup has developed an eye-drop treatment for presbyopia, the hardening of a lens in the eye that frequently leads to the need for reading glasses. The condition affects more than 1 billion people worldwide according some estimates, primarily impacting quality of life issues.

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The company said in May that the study of its EV06 solution, aimed at softening the lens in the eye that tends to stiffen with age, met both primary safety and efficacy outcomes, with a significant improvement in near vision observed in the 75-subject study group.

Details were presented at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Symposium in New Orleans earlier in May.

“We are encouraged by the positive safety and efficacy outcomes observed throughout the study in patients treated with EV06,” said Burns, Encore’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “EV06 demonstrated a safety profile nearly identical to placebo and a significant ability to improve near vision function as early as two weeks. We believe these data warrant future clinical development.”

Burns launched Encore in 2006, working through the TECH Fort Worth business incubator. That was following a 20-year career at Fort Worth’s Alcon Laboratories. At Alcon, Burns held a number of executive positions, including vice president for worldwide marketing for pharmaceutical and consumer products. Prior to Alcon, Burns worked at Bristol Myers Squibb and at Norwich-Eaton Laboratories, now a Proctor & Gamble company.

The potential for Encore’s product is huge. There are no current medical treatments for presbyopia and surgical approaches to treat presbyopia have not made significant market penetration, according to Burns. The condition affects greater than 90 percent of individuals over the age of 40 with an estimated 1.8 billion impacted worldwide. About 120 million Americans require vision correction for presbyopia. Treating just those with early onset presbyopia represents a market size in the tens of millions, according to the company.

Encore has received funding from the Cowtown Angels investor network in Fort Worth and support from other groups including Bios Partners, a Fort Worth venture capital equity firm.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind,” said Dr. John Hunkeler, founder and medical director of Hunkeler Eye Institute. “EV06 is the only investigational treatment that addresses the root cause of presbyopia. The marked improvement in near vision over the entire study period coupled with the fact that EV06 was very well tolerated makes me optimistic this innovative treatment could provide substantial functional and quality‐of‐life improvements for our presbyopic patients. While further study is required, if successful, EV06 could redefine how we manage presbyopia – the most common ophthalmic condition worldwide.”

Burns said the company is still a few years from commercialization, but said he is “pleased and excited” with the progress.