Poll: 80% of Virginians only want eye surgeon to perform eye surgery | State

RICHMOND, Va., February 2, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — A new poll released today by the Virginia Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons found that an overwhelming majority of Virginians – 80% – would trust only a qualified eye surgeon to perform eye surgery. ocular. Only 10% said they would allow an optometrist, whose role is to provide primary eye care, to perform surgery on their eyes.

The poll is published as Virginia lawmakers are considering two bills in the General Assembly that would allow optometrists to perform laser eye surgery if certified by the Virginia Optometry Council. The bills are Senate Bill 375 (J. Chapman Petersen, D-City of Fairfax) and House Bill 213 (Roxann L.RobinsonR-Chesterfield).

Laser eye surgery procedures are common to treat cataracts, glaucoma, and related conditions. These are advanced eye surgeries requiring careful placement of laser energy into the eye. The procedures are never without risk, which is greatly minimized when performed by a medically trained surgeon: an ophthalmologist.

“Eye surgery should be performed by eye surgeons, who have experience and skills that only come with years of education and training supervised by other surgeons, and by participating in hundreds of surgeries on real people,” said Michael Keverline, MD, president of the Virginia Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons. “Optometrists play a key role in eye and vision care, but it’s important to understand where their scope of practice should end, which is with surgery. Ophthalmologists are the only physicians qualified to perform eye surgeries and prepared to manage surgical complications that can and do occur.”

  • Ophthalmologists (ophthalmic physicians and surgeons) are medical doctors (who can treat the whole body and specialize in the eyes) and complete between 12 and 13 years of total graduate school – which includes 4 to 5 years of intensive surgical training. They typically have over 17,000 hours of surgical training prior to certification.
  • Optometrists (eye care experts) can practice after 7-8 years of higher education and diagnose eye conditions and treat vision problems. Training in optometric surgery is generally didactic or simulated and does not include surgical experience involving patients under the supervision of a qualified eye surgeon. They don’t go to medical school.

The vast majority of states – 43 – ban laser surgery by optometrists, as does the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Even in states where laser surgery is licensed for optometrists, few optometrists provide the services and typically none in rural or underserved areas. Eye surgeons are widely available throughout the state, even in rural areas. There is no evidence that allowing optometrists to perform laser eye surgery would increase access to care or reduce costs — reimbursement is the same regardless of specialty. Expanding optometrists’ scope of practice can lead to overuse of these procedures and drive up health insurance costs and premiums and the need for corrective medical care.

“It has not been demonstrated that it is necessary to change from Virginia standard for eye surgery. Not about access to care, cost or other patient needs,” Keverline said. “The only thing we know is that if this legislation is passed, poorly trained practitioners will perform operations on people’s eyes.

About the Virginia Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons



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As “eye doctors” of Virginia, The Virginia Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons is a statewide nonprofit organization comprised of physicians and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. The mission of VSEPS is to advocate for the highest quality eye care through education, legislative efforts, and community service. Members are committed to increasing public awareness that eye disease and blindness can be reduced through prevention, early detection and treatment. Member physicians are dedicated to providing the public with direct access to eye care. The organization received its charter in 1920.

The poll was commissioned by the Virginia Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of January 13 to 17, 2022 with 625 registered voters statewide. The margin of error is not greater than +/- 4 percentage points. For questions about the survey, contact Brad Cocker with Mason-Dixon at bcoker@mason-dixon.com or call (904) 261-2444.

Jeff KelleyVirginia Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons, 1 8043979700, jeff@kelleyus.com

SOURCE Virginia Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons


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