Should Optometrists Be Allowed to Perform Eye Surgery?

February 16, 2011

The Kentucky Senate has approved a bill (Senate Bill 110) to allow optometrists to perform some surgical procedures on eyes.

Ophthalmologists say Senate Bill 110 will put people’s vision at risk. Their argument is that eye surgery involves cutting extremely delicate tissues of the eye, and that only ophthalmologists – with over a thousand mentored hours performing all types of surgery on the eye – should be authorized to undertake such operations.

Optometrists say these concerns are misplaced, and that no one unqualified will perform eye surgery. Instead, they argue, the bill will provide better access to vision care.

Click here to read more on this legislative development.

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4 Responses to “Should Optometrists Be Allowed to Perform Eye Surgery?”

  • Dr. Bill

    Optometrists lobbying for these bills are absolutely ridiculous. I am shocked that in addition to ophthalmologists the AMA and National Safety Foundation are not getting involved. For optometrists to think they are qualified to perform extremely high-risk surgeries is dangerous. It’s bad enough that some states such as Florida actually allow skin-laser treatments (such as laser hair removal) to be performed by NON MD personal, but allowing non-MD’s to perform laser treatments on the EYE is taking it to a whole new level. What’s next? Psychologists lobbying to perform brain surgery?

    Unfortunately, these decisions of who is allowed to perform what is being made by common folks who have no idea what kind of extensive training and knowledge is involved for dealing with complications of surgery. Being a surgeon is more than just knowing how to use a laser– any high school dropout can use a pair of scissors. it’s about understanding the anatomy and physiological mechanism of wound healing response, response to therapy, benefits outweighing risks, evidence based medicine, medical ethics– concepts that are stressed in medical school.

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    Today, there are many different treatment options available to help prevent vision loss caused by high eye pressure, cataract, and glaucoma. You can learn more about glaucoma and its treatment options by talking to your eye doctor and reading the information on this Web site.

  • ari

    yeah, my feeling is that optometrists, who get relatively little training in surgery, and have little experience in their complications, are going to get sued quite a bit when things dont go right, and then their interest is going to wane. can you just imagine the grilling they are going to get from the lawyers? yeesh! (“doctor, how many have of these procedures have you done in your training? and how many complications did you deal with? why didnt you refer this procedure to an ophthalmologist who has many many times more experience than you? was it greed?). or, when an optom hits a nice bleeder in the eyelid and has trouble stopping it, he’s going to re-consider next time.

    ideally, ophthal’s should do the surgery, and optom’s should do the pre/post care under supervision.

  • Dr. Martin

    I am quite shocked that Kentucky is going to allow optometrists to perform eye surgery. A major issue is complications from eye surgeries – will optometrists know how to deal with them? If not, a patient could go blind from a simple procedure. But if optometrists want to start getting sued (maybe they feel they’re missing out? ; – ), well, who are we to deny them!