Zeiss’ Jim Mazzo

Industry Insider is a timely chat with an ophthalmic industry thought leader.

Jim Mazzo joined Zeiss in 2016 as the company’s global president of ophthalmology. Mr. Mazzo is a 40-year veteran of the ophthalmic industry, with previous positions at companies including Allergan, Abbott Medical Optics and AcuFocus. Zeiss recently became a shareholder in the company MicroOptx Inc., a private company focused on creating minimally invasive glaucoma surgery devices.

Ophthalmology Management: In light of the news of Zeiss becoming a shareholder in MicroOptx, how does Zeiss find a balance between supporting its currently available innovations and developing new products?

Jim Mazzo: MicroOptx is a good example of something I’ve seen a lot in my 40 years in the ophthalmic industry. It’s pretty common for larger companies to acquire technology by partnering with smaller businesses, and in a way that doesn’t take away their entrepreneurial spirit.

Taking that a little further, at Zeiss we’re into glaucoma but primarily from a diagnosis standpoint. With MicroOptx, that provides us an opportunity to move further into glaucoma treatment, thereby extending our strategy in that field. We love the glaucoma space and wanted to do more with it, which was why MicroOptx was a great fit.

At Zeiss, we understand we don’t know everything and there are a lot of smart people out there we want to utilize, which means we’re always on the lookout for innovation.

OM: Zeiss recently announced the completion of 2 million SMILE procedures worldwide. With that milestone reached, how do you see the procedure continuing to grow?

JM: With SMILE, if you ask physicians, they’ll say patients feel better and have better visual outcomes. We want to continue growing SMILE based on those merits. The next big thing is a recently started clinical trial outside the United States on SMILE’s effectiveness on hyperopic patients. The trial has only just begun, so we do not have an estimate yet on how long it will take to complete.

Refractive procedures are still one of the least penetrated treatments in ophthalmology. With SMILE, we have more than 1,000 VisuMax devices, used by 1,800 surgeons in 70 countries; it took us six years to complete the first million SMILE patients and less than two years to complete the second million. A big part of that came last year, when we received approval for astigmatism treatment from the FDA, opening the door for U.S. patients.

OM: What were your expectations moving into your role at Zeiss? Have they been met in your time there?

JM: This will be my 40th year in the industry, and it’s one that has been very good to me; I get energized every day helping our great physicians improve people’s vision. Obviously, nobody wants to have a health concern, but the biggest one people are afraid of is losing their eyesight; when you lose that, you lose your independence. So, I knew I wanted to be with a company dedicated to ophthalmology.

While I’ve had the opportunity to work at great companies, both big and small, the unique thing about Zeiss is that it’s been around for 170 years. What I’m proud of in my three years here is that we’ve made customers our number one priority. I’ve had the honor to build a team with the mentality that the customer is the most important person at Zeiss.

I want to be associated with Zeiss because I think they’ll be around for another 170 years. OM