Article Date: 9/1/2002

o.d. to o.d.
Ethics in Optometry
A subject we all studied in school ­ but what does it mean in the real world?
BY NEIL B. GAILMARD, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

Our cover story this month is on professional ethics; a very important topic that does not get much coverage in our professional journals. Executive Editor Jim Thomas does a great job of bringing the topic to life with examples from current news events and by drawing upon recent federal legislation and policies adopted by professional associations.

For example, the trade association for pharmaceutical companies (PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association), recently adopted new policies that will affect how drug companies and contact lens companies interact with optometrists. Just as industry examines itself with this position paper, so should doctors.

Optometry has an excellent record of highly ethical behavior, which is commendable because we certainly face challenging dilemmas every day. Yet we can't allow ourselves to be complacent about ethics. We must strive to be introspective. While I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers, I'll be happy to supply some questions.

Real ethical dilemmas

Closer-to-home dilemmas

Walking a fine line

There is often a fine line between ethical practice and that which is morally suspect, but optometrists have managed that line very well, in spite of many very complex situations. I suspect we do that by focusing on what's best for the patient first. After that, most other things take care of themselves.

You may contact Dr. Gailmard at


Optometric Management, Issue: September 2002