Article Date: 8/1/2012

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Optometry Rated Number One as High Pay and Low Stress Profession



■ Do you find that practicing optometry provides you with big bucks and little aggravation, or is it perhaps, the exact opposite? Well, according to, an online database, optometry ranks number one in high pay ($99,200 median annual salary) and low stress.

Ted A. McElroy, O.D., president and CEO of Vision Source-Tifton, in Tifton, Ga., agrees he “makes a good living,” and that he has been able to give his family more than he had as a kid, but he says he questions the low-stress findings:

“I think the thing that gets left out of surveys like this is that we [private practice owners] are all small business owners. Maybe they [] are looking at the entire profession as a whole. We small business owners have to make sure the books are balanced, our family and work lives are balanced and many times that our sanity is balanced,” he explains. “I still have to be a husband, dad, friend and business owner. I have to make sure that my co-workers have health insurance, have benefits that make them know how much I appreciate them, encourage them to become active in the plans of our business while at the same time doing what is best for the practice and be the leader they need me to be.”

The other high-paying, low-stress-careers, from number two through five, according to

Materials scientist. This person, who creates lubricants, synthetic fibers, leak-proof materials, etc., has an annual median salary of $90,600.
Economist. Keeping tabs on the distribution of resources and goods provides this number cruncher with a median annual salary of $85,600.
Aeronautical engineer. This flight fanatic rakes in a median salary of $82,800.
User experience designer. Enhancing human interaction with objects, such as cars and board games, this job earns median annual salary of $79,100. amasses both career and salary data from employees throughout the United States. The aforementioned findings are based on the annual salaries and all bonuses, commissions and profit sharing of full-time workers who have five-to-eight years of experience.

Your thoughts?

Do you feel the survey adequately reflects your experience as an optometrist? Since you're in the trenches, we want to hear your thoughts on this.Please e-mail, to let us know.


ASCRS Announces Task Force Members

■ The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) recently announced the members of its Integrated Ophthalmic-Managed Eye Care Delivery (IOMED) Task Force. Its mission: to develop a model for eye care that will focus on creating a connection between optometry and ophthalmology.

“For too many years, the two professions have acted independently of each other, often to the detriment of patient care, frequently with significant redundancy and certainly in a method that creates inefficient utilization of resources,” according to Richard C. Edlow, O.D., a member of the Task Force, who also practices at Katzen Eye Group in Lutherville, Md. “This trend has been slowly evolving as more and more optometrists and ophthalmologists find themselves in practice together, which creates a rewarding cooperative practice modality and, more importantly, allows for enhanced patient care and patient satisfaction.”

The IOMED task force features five optometrists as well as three ophthalmologists who say they expect to share their findings and make formal recommendations to the ASCRS leadership in the coming months.

Having such a task force makes sense, given the expected increase in the aging population and thus eye disease, says Randall Fuerst, O.D., F.A.A.O., and chair of the American Optometric Association Contact Lens & Cornea Section.

“The population is aging, living longer, and, unfortunately, experiencing substantial increases in almost all categories — from cataracts to diabetic retinopathy, to glaucoma and macular degeneration,” he explains. “To see the recognition by ophthalmology that optometry and ophthalmology (must) work together to meet this burgeoning need is encouraging given the long history of animus between the two professions.”

Currently, the task force does not include independent O.D.s or those employed by corporations. However, the task force could someday lead to an expansion of the model beyond only those optometrists employed by MDs or those who work in hospitals or industry, says Dr. Fuerst.

“The majority of optometrists today are not in this particular mode of practice [O.D. working with M.D.],” he says. “While this task force does not represent the majority of optometrists, it potentially holds promise as a good first step.”

ASCRS is an independent, nonprofit, ophthalmic, sub-specialty society that has been dedicated to advancing the art and science of ophthalmic surgery since 1974.

CORRECTION: In the June 2012 issue (“The Stand-Alone Visioncare Plan Debate,” page 23), OM reported that the Ohio Optometric Association (OOA) voted to back the American Optometric Association's (AOA) stance that stand-alone plans should not be included in the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges. In actuality, the OOA has not stated specific support for either the AOA or VSP. In a letter to Tim Jankowski, O.D., F.A.A.O., immediate past chair, VSP Board of Directors, Donald Faimon, O.D., OOA president wrote: “… The solution is not simply a matter of allowing a stand-alone vision plan or requiring a mandate that only some can participate in. Finding middle ground that keeps the patient at the center of our attention and helps optometry to be part of the solution to excellent and affordable vision care in the future must be the top priority.” He added that the OOA would “continue to request that the AOA leadership find a way to mediate the differences between VSP and the AOA.”


CMS Issues Proposed Rule

■ As we go to press, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a proposed rule that regards alterations to the physician fee schedule, payments for Part B drugs, among other Medicare Part B payment policies, the implementation of provisions of the Affordable Care Act by making a face-to-face encounter a condition of payment for certain types of durable medical equipment and the implementation of statutory changes regarding the termination of non-random prepayment review under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.

So, how is this proposed rule related to you, the optometrist?

Overall, CMS expects O.D.s to receive slightly higher Medicare payments next year, but that is not consistent for all optometrists or for all services optometrists bill, according to a spokesperson for the American Optometric Association. In addition, Congress must act to prevent a 30% cut in 2013, which would negatively impact all doctors.

The proposed rule, which is almost 800 pages long, can be accessed at

To comment on the proposed rule, visit, and follow the instructions for “submitting a comment.” All comments must be received no later than 5p.m. Sept. 30, 2012.

Theoretical Physicist Inspired by Wife
Nobel-Prize Winner Invents AMD Reading Devices
When his wife developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD) a few years ago, Walter Kohn, Ph.D., a theoretical physicist and a 1998 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, says he wondered whether he could use his background to help her, he told Scientific American.
Apparently, he could, as Dr. Kohn has developed software based on the Amsler Grid that enables him to correct an AMD patient's text vision. Specifically, the patient uses software that allows him, via mouse, to pull the Grid's virtual lines until they appear visually perfect to him, the publication explains. This action provides a spatial diagnosis of the patient's specific visual distortion, and Dr. Kohn uses this diagnosis to create a correction.
He told Scientific American he's created a handheld computer that scans text and distorts it to the patient's specific vision needs via dynamic compensation software, and he's assembled a magnifying-glass-type lens that contains the patient's specific visual correction. Having successfully tested both techniques, Dr. Kohn is currently working on commercializing them, the publication says.

● The prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in the noninstitutionalized adult U.S. population between 1984 to 2010 is markedly decreased, reveals a study in June's Ophthalmology.
● PureVision2 contact lenses, from Bausch + Lomb, were shown to provide more favorable patient ratings than spectacles regarding image and color quality during an HD movie at a theater, says a press release from Bausch + Lomb.
● The OTX-TP1 travaprost-loaded punctum plug (Ocular Therapeutix) feasibility study for the treatment of glaucoma revealed intraocular pressure (IOP) decreased by 5.5mmHg at day three post-insertion. Further, after 30 days of treatment, the mean IOP was 6.5mmHg below baseline. The plug is designed to absorb in four-to-six weeks. A total of 88% of plugs were present at the day 30 visit.
● The refractive predictability and postoperative outcome in nanophthalmos eyes that underwent cataract surgery was shown poorer than eyes that had relative anterior microphthalmos or normal control eyes that underwent cataract surgery, says June's American Journal of Ophthalmology.
● Real-time polymerase chain reaction was effective in identifying and treating Acanthamoeba keratitis, says June's Ophthalmology.
● Long-term botulinum toxin A injections are a good treatment for maintaining ocular alignment in adult strabismus, should squint surgery not be indicated, says June's British Journal of Ophthalmology. Further, those patients who received the injections scored near the level of normal controls in quality of life terms.

FDA News
The iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent System, from Glaukos Corporation, received FDA approval for use in combination with cataract surgery to decrease intraocular pressure (IOP) in adult patients who have mild-ormoderate open-angle glaucoma along with a cataract and are currently using medication to reduce their IOP. The iStent is a small titanium tube that creates an opening between the anterior chamber and Schlemm's canal, enabling fluid drainage, potentially reducing IOP.
The FDA Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee has recommended the government agency grant ocriplasmin (ThromboGenics) approval for the treatment of symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion.

Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: August 2012, page(s): 10 - 15