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16 Comments

Should optometrists, who are not medical doctors, be allowed to perform eye surgery?

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Only medically trained doctors should be performing surgeries.

Actually, as a current optometry student, in a school where I specialize in the eye for 4 years, not just 3 specialty years like ophthalmologists, I have been trained to perform laser surgery, suture wounds, and do injections. So, I am medically trained to do so.

Obviously this poll question was written by a biased individual who felt it necessary to emphasize optometrists are not "medically trained"..which is patently false and shamelessly misleading . Optometrists ARE medically trained but not MDS. Your Dentist and Podiatrist are medically trained specialists who are not MDS as well. Optometry is no different

It is hilarious to me that optometrists are referred to as not being medically trained. With four years of rigorous coursework and clinical experience, we have been trained to shoot lasers for numerous laser procedures. We have also had training with Ellman Units and have given injections. Optometrists in states such as Oklahoma have been performing these procedures for years. As health care professionals, Optometry's biggest concern is always the safety of our patients and we would never seek to have the ability to do things if we didn't believe we weren't capable. As an example, optometrists couldn't prescribe oral medications until a few decades ago and in some states and now we can because of the evolution of our scope. We can't do this in some states due to Opthalmology. Is this because of patient safety, or because of money and politics? Lets be REAL. We also have Optometrists that have gone to MEDICAL SCHOOL who believe we should have the right to perform these procedures. What more can I say?

The question is persuading the answer no. It is assuming the optometrist is not medically trained. Perhaps the question should be worded "Should an optometrist be able to perform surgical procedures to the extent of his/her medical training?"

In that case my answer would be yes.

Optomertic Physicians are medically trained during their eight years of school just like dentists are. Dentists do surgeries correct?

The optometrists are not trying to perform your typical "scalpel cutting" procedures. They are trying to do simple outpatient laser procedures. Please Google ALT, SLT or Laser Peripheral Iridotomy.

Doctors of optometry are not looking to do refractive surgery or cataract surgery. Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Kentucky have laws allowing optometrists to pereformed minor laser procedures. They have done well. The ophthalmologists make it appear any optometrist can wake up next day and just do these. That's not the case. They will undergo special training, practical, and regular obseration. This is not black and white such as what ophthalmology make it appear.

Optometrists ARE medically trained doctors and should be allowed to practice in the full scope of their training.

They are doctors. They are medically trained. They aren't trying to change what they do, just keep up with changing technology. Stop getting in the way of progress.

Dentists are not medical doctors either and they do plenty of surgeries. They are trained to do so just as optometrists are now trained to do the procedures in question.

Ophthalmologists learn newer procedures (procedures developed after residency training) in weekend courses...they are not required to do thousands of hours of training for these as they would have you believe. They enable nurse practitioners (not eye care professionals) to prescribe medicines then try to limit Optometrist scope of practice . It's a turf war..financially motivated. Legislatures all over the country have expanded optometric scope of practice repeatedly because it is a the best interest of their citizens

First, this entire article is pandering to uninformed readers by presenting leading questions and statements that automatically force a reader into taking a certain position. Secondly, I am seeing nothing but biased statements in all of your writing. You clearly went into this debate with your opinion already formed and a lack of interest in properly educating yourself or your readers.

Most importantly - as was previously stated, optometrists are not just spontaneously deciding to take up surgery. They go through 8 years of schooling (yes - just like medical school), and unlike medical school they specialize in eye care from Day 1. Many also fulfil a 1-2 year Residency or Fellowship. They are simply trying to practice to the full scope of what was taught, and specifically seeking to offer outpatient laser procedures.

Ophthalmology in the past has sought to keep optometrists from providing as basic of clinical care as dilating their patients by claiming that optometrists pose the risk of killing their patients. Clearly that is not the case, and this situation follows a similar strain. It's a financial war that is not taking the best interest of the patients by providing more accessible care into account.

Podiatrists perform foot surgery, dentists perform dental surgery, of course optometrists should perform minor/laser surgery. They are trained, they complete residencies, why not? Especially in rural areas where a patient would have to arrange for 8 hours of transportation to get to the nearest city, be seen, and driven back. Optometrists aren't trying to do cataract surgery or anything with a scalpel, contrary to what most people believe. It would make procedures more accessible not only to our rural communities as mentioned above, but also to our Medicaid populations which most ophthalmologists won't service. It allows all those in need of services to be treated equally rather than giving services only to those in the city or with excellent coverage which is how it is now.

Your poll question is terribly worded, and extremely leading.
There are many physicians who perform minor surgery who don't have the MD designation, including dentists and podiatrists.
Optometrists have been safely doing these procedures in KY and Oklahoma for a number of years.
Optometrists are appropriately trained before being licensed and certified to perform these procedures. They would not be "turned loose" to perform surgery with reckless abandon and no training as your question implies.
Ophthalmology primarily opposes this for a number of reasons. Primarily- it will cut into their own revenue. Second- they are not fully educated on scope of practice and training of optometrists. On this second point, you seem to have something in common.
I'd love to see a true unbiased journalistic approach here- get all the facts on both sides.

It's the same as asking if dentists should be able to do oral surgeries although they are not medical doctors. It's ridiculous. Dentists have been doing surgery for years without going to medical school and becoming "oral surgeons".

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