Across the country, it’s clear that misguided attempts to lower standards for medical eyecare have been met by serious concerns over the negative impact to patient safety.
“Safely performing surgery requires not only the development of technical skills but also – and almost certainly more important – the development of pre-surgical judgment to recognize when and when not to perform the surgery, and judgment while performing the surgery itself. This can only be gained by broad, mentored experience during training. The experience that would be afforded by doing the limited number of procedures outlined in SB 492 [California bill allowing optometrists to perform scalpel and laser eye surgeries, and injections of potent pharmaceutical agents that failed to pass] cannot possibly be sufficient for the development of neither technical skills nor surgical judgment.”2014 Letter to California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriation from Concerned Medical Educators (Professors at Stanford, UC Davis, UCLA, UC-Irvine, UCSD, California Pacific Medical Center, UCSF, Loma Linda University and USC)
“Health policy makers should be cautious about approving laser privileges for optometrists practicing in other states....”2016 Investigators of Oklahoma optometrists’ ability to use laser surgery to treat glaucoma patients showing that these patients saw a 189% increase in the risk of having to have a second laser eye procedure than if conducted by a trained ophthalmologist
“When it comes to eye surgery, every patient deserves the best and safest care possible from qualified medical doctors and trained surgeons. Would you want any other than the most highly trained medical doctor and surgeon to perform surgery on your eyes or those of your loved ones? Of course not! Yet proponents of SB 55 [Alaska’s bill to lower standards to allow optometrists to perform eye surgeries] claim it "modernizes and updates" the scope of practice for optometrists; however, they fail to inform you that it does so only by lowering standards of medical and surgical care. Patients in Alaska deserve more than an optometrist who underwent a weekend course at a hotel to learn surgery. They deserve a medical doctor who is not only trained as a surgeon, but who can also selectively and appropriately prescribe narcotics, with a full understanding of the patient's concomitant systemic conditions, and the potential impact of these controlled substances. Permitting optometrists to do all of this while letting them escape the watchful eye of the Alaska State Medical Board is dangerous and akin to allowing chiropractors to dabble in spinal surgery.”2016 opinion editorial in the Alaska Dispatch News, by Dr. Kelly Lorenz is a board-certified ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist in Anchorage. She earned her M.D. from Ohio State University, completing her surgical internship, ophthalmology residency and glaucoma fellowship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.