Doctors of optometry a crucial component in cataract care

November 18, 2015
Magazine: Optometrists ‘best source’ for finding cataract surgeon.

Optometry plays a central role in the concerted approach to cataract care, one emphasized in a global health magazine only months following ophthalmology's landmark reversal on co-managed care.

In a November 2015 article by Life Extension® magazine —a publication of the nutrition, health and wellness supplement retailer by the same name—titled, " How to Improve Your Odds of Successful Cataract Surgery," doctors of optometry were favorably highlighted for their crucial distinction as primary care eye doctors and patient advocates.

The article offers consumers tips for seeking quality cataract care, and the first recommendation? Find a doctor of optometry. According to the article:

"The most independent source as to which ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) is the best surgeon is a good optometrist. They do not do surgery but refer many patients for surgery and co-manage the patient after surgery. The last thing they want is to send a loyal patient to a bad surgeon. Optometrists see the complications of an unsuccessful surgery and generally know what surgeons are bad, good and really good."

But the assessment doesn't stop there; the article continues with, "a good optometrist is your best source for finding the best surgeon." While it clearly highlights the important primary care role that doctors of optometry play in health care, the article fails to understand or convey that doctors of optometry do perform surgical procedures in many states.

Doctors of optometry, and ophthalmologists, are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for their patients, which is why a postoperative, co-managed care model has been around for many years, yet it's only recently that organized groups have acknowledged this option.

Ophthalmology: Co-managed care an "appropriate" option

In a substantial policy shift likely reflecting optometry's effectiveness in delivering quality care, an ophthalmology position paper recently deemed co-managed cataract care an "appropriate" course of action.

This position paper, released jointly by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) on Sept. 9, 2015, reverses 15-year-old guidance that originally emphasized ethical concerns for co-management and concluded such models of care should be an exceptional occurrence.

The revised AAO/ASCRS guidance encourages ophthalmologists to exercise "professional judgement" when deciding on co-management or transfer of care, acknowledges that the model serves legitimate patient interests and eliminates most references to the ethical concerns of the original document.

Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., AOA vice president, said this complete reversal likely stems from the cooperative, co-managed care already provided by doctors of optometry and ophthalmology.

"This is a very positive acknowledgement of what has become standard practice," Dr. Quinn said after the position paper's release. "It's a reflection of the many years of successful patient care and good work that our members provide."

Read more about the AAO/ASCRS joint position paper and revised co-management guidelines, and learn how doctors of optometry partner with other providers to bring quality care to their patients.

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