Our Opinion | Blurred vision: Legislators Seek to Cloud Eye Surgery Standards - Safe Surgery NC

Our Opinion | Blurred vision: Legislators Seek to Cloud Eye Surgery Standards

That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but we can forgive Dr. Woodford Van Meter his hyperbole in the name of protecting patients.

The University of Kentucky ophthalmology professor is sounding the alarm over two North Carolina bills that would allow optometrists, who earn doctoral degrees but are not medical doctors, to expand their scope of practice to include some laser surgeries.

Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, are backing efforts to blur the lines between ophthalmologists and optometrists. The legislators say House Bill 36 and Senate Bill 342 would increase access to care. But doing so could create considerable health risks like those Van Meter observed after a similar law was passed in his home state of Kentucky.

“Since our law passed, we have seen unnecessary surgery, inappropriate surgery and misdiagnoses,” Van Meter wrote in a News & Observer op-ed. “Using the kind of lasers allowed in HB 36 and SB 342, optometrists in Kentucky have performed YAG laser capsulotomies on patients who did not need it. We have seen complications after the procedure, such as a worsening of macular degeneration.”

Publication: The Wilson Times

Date Published: April 25, 2017

HB36 is a dangerous bill before the North Carolina General Assembly. If passed, HB36 will enable Optometrists, who did not attend medical school, the ability to perform eye surgery within our state.