Oklahoma’s Skyrocketing Risk of Repeat Laser Surgeries

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed the cases of hundreds patients following laser treatment of glaucoma.

The study found an alarming fact:
189% INCREASED RISK of patients requiring additional laser treatment when an optometrist performed the initial surgery rather than a physician.

The authors concluded that the increased risk may be due to optometrists:

  • Lacking comprehensive training in laser treatment
  • Not doing adequate patient gonioscope evaluations
  • Failing to wait 6-8 weeks to determine if the surgery worked

The study’s authors caution: Health policy makers should be cautious about approving laser privileges for optometrists practicing in other states…

This study illustrates a real concern for patient safety. It is not safe or cost effective for optometrists to perform surgery.


Comparison of Outcomes of Laser Trabeculoplasty Performed by Optometrists vs Ophthalmologists in Oklahoma, Joshua D. Stein, MD, MS1,2,3Peter Y. Zhao, MD4Chris Andrews, PhD1; et alGregory L. Skuta, MD5 Author Affiliations, JAMA Ophthalmology. 2016;134(10):1095-1101. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2495