ZVA, the German association of optical retailers, has used its own reserves to establish a €250,000 fund intended to help out members that are going through financial difficulties because of the phase-out of government subsidies for the purchase of eye care products. The German health reform has led opticians to record average declines of up to 30 percent in their business during the first 8 months of this year, with some of them suffering even higher losses. For the government, it has allowed its health system to reach a profit of €2.4 billion for the first half of this year, as compared to a €2 billion deficit in the same period a year ago. In addition to a drop of 13.5 percent in spending on eye care products and other medical devices, the government has saved 12.5 percent in subsidies for medicines and 10 percent in other expenses.