Optometry’s Brave New World as a Service and Procedure-based Profession
Richard E. Castillo, OD, DO, Chief Editor
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Optometric Management’s Optometric Laser Procedures eNewsletter! With the recent legislative victory in Arkansas, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics1 reveals that currently there are more than 1700 optometric physicians nationwide actively practicing within a state which permits credentialed ODs to perform various ophthalmic laser procedures under existing scope of practice laws. Beginning with Oklahoma in the late 1980s, optometric physicians in Kentucky, Louisiana, Alaska, and Arkansas have successfully rewritten and realigned outdated occupational statutes with modern standards and training programs. As of April 2019, similar legislative initiatives are currently underway in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alabama, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Puerto Rico. Ophthalmic lasers, both diagnostic and therapeutic, are an integral part of the modern optometric curriculum, a part of the clinical training and residency experience, and are taking their place alongside the optometric physician’s contemporary model of professional services.
Over the next twelve months, the editors of Optometric Laser Procedures will share experience and offer advice and guidance on those ophthalmic laser procedures relevant to today’s successful optometric practitioner. Laser Trabeculoplasty, Laser Capsulotomy, and Laser Peripheral Iridotomy are all a part of the compendium of modern optometric practice. Furthermore, new developments in epidermal laser ablative and resurfacing technology are also making these office tools viable options for many optometric physicians in the states listed above and as options to potentially consider in an additional number of states such as Oregon, Idaho, Tennessee, and Virginia, which allow limited forms of office-based lid surgery.
Advancement and innovation in technology, along with the continued growth of the medical and scientific knowledge base, continues to foster a decentralization in the provision of healthcare services from the traditional medical physician-centered model. Today’s advanced practitioner and co-management models flourish as these services transition from the tertiary to the primary care space. Along with this redistribution in the delivery of services and procedures, there has been an expansion and diversification of office-based procedures offered within the primary care arena, ophthalmic lasers included. Optometric Physicians as the leading providers of primary eye care services in North America are well positioned by education and clinical experience to engage as full partners in this evolving healthcare paradigm.
As Optometry continues to evolve at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level into a service and procedure-oriented profession, Optometry itself becomes a more comprehensive and robust profession, which serves to benefit not only the practitioner, but our patients, our communities, and the public welfare. So, we invite you to spend time with some of procedural optometry’s recognized experts and enjoy Optometric Management’s Optometric Laser Procedures eNewsletter over the next twelve months. For the experienced practitioner, it will serve as educational enrichment, and as a clinical and practice-building reference and review. For the student, resident, or entry-level practitioner, it will provide a conceptual framework, advice, guidance, and the context needed to develop a fundamental understanding of optometric lasers. Furthermore, it will serve as a basis from which to move forward in the acquisition and refinement of office-based procedural skills.
We intend that this information benefits you, the profession of optometry, and most of all the patients who entrust their health to your thoughtful care. Welcome to the optometric practice of the 21st century. Welcome to Optometric Management’s Optometric Laser Procedures!
Dr. James Hunter, OD (Indiana State Board) and Dr. Yvette Mercado, OD (InterAmerican University School of Optometry, Puerto Rico) looking on as Dr. Vince Brandys, OD (Illinois College of Optometry) practices SLT on a Quantel Optimis Fusion Laser.
Richard E. Castillo, OD, DO is an internationally recognized speaker among optometric physicians. For over 25 years, he has addressed large audiences, appeared on local television, the local press, and serves as professor and assistant dean for surgical training & education at Northeastern State University's Oklahoma College of Optometry. A practicing ophthalmologist and optometric physician, Dr. Castillo is recognized as a leader in the fields of procedural optometry, office-based surgery and optometric lasers. He has co-authored the introductory chapter in the iconic Rosenbloom & Morgan's Vision and Aging (Butterworth-Heinemann), as well as a chapter on office-based lid surgery in the equally iconic Pfenninger & Fowlers Procedures for Primary Care (Elsevier). He serves as Executive Director of the online Optometric Procedures Institute, co-chair of the American Optometric Association's Advanced Procedures and Future Practice Task Force, and is member of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry's Laser & Surgical Procedures Examination (LSPE™) development committee.