Dr. Susan Burden: Leave Eye Surgery to Trained Surgeons
This article was written by Dr. Susan Burden for Winston-Salem Journal.
As an experienced teacher of eye surgeons, I implore North Carolina’s state legislators to reject two misguided proposals, House Bill 36 and Senate Bill 342, which would let optometrists — who are not medical doctors, much
Not only would HB 36 and SB 342 remove the current law’s common-sense requirement of a medical license to perform eye surgery, but also they would remove the full ability of the North Carolina Medical Board to determine the standards of medical education and surgical training. That would cast aside vital safety protections for vulnerable patients throughout North Carolina.
“Ophthalmology” and “optometry” sound similar, but they’re very different. Ophthalmologists graduate from four years of medical school, followed by four more years of specialized medical training, including surgery.
Optometrists have an important and valuable role to play in
I have been training ophthalmology medical residents how to operate for more than a decade. It takes three to five years of intense training to learn how to perform surgery safely and effectively. A weekend course won’t cut it.
Optometrists say the legislation would let them do three or four “simple” laser surgeries and remove “benign” lesions from the eyelid, but the bills exclude only a handful of procedures — opening the door to more than 200 kinds of eye surgery by non-surgeons, including treatment with radioactive plaques for choroidal melanoma and eye injections for macular degeneration and diabetes.
Publication: Winston-Salem Journal
Date Published: April 8, 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.