The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery says it will limit registration of optometrists attending its annual symposium. Only two types of O.D.s will be able to attend: O.Ds who are directly employed by ophthalmologists who are ASCRS members, or O.D.s employed by ophthalmic industry entities.
Also, those optometrists who attend the ASCRS meeting must sign a statement declaring that attendance in courses, presentations and other meeting events in no way qualifies them to perform surgery.
The next ASCRS meeting is scheduled for April 2005 in Washington, D.C. About 90 O.D.s and 3,500 surgeons attended last years meeting, according to ASCRS president Priscilla Arnold, M.D.
The ASCRS announcement comes three months after the American Academy of Ophthalmology said it would ban O.D.s from its annual meeting. Dr. Arnold says that a great majority of ASCRS members are also AAO members.
Dr. Arnold says ASCRS decision to limit O.D. attendance was in response to ASCRS members concerns. Our membership has been very concerned recently, in particular about the optometric effort to increase or expand the scope of practice in surgical areas, she says.
Dr. Arnold cites optometric legislation in Oklahoma (HB 2321) as the most recent example. HB 2321, signed on April 28, clarifies optometric scope of practice in that state. Organized ophthalmology says the bill gives the board of optometry of Oklahoma the ability to legislate surgical privileges, while the optometry board says the new law adds nothing to the current scope of practice.
The American Optometric Association says in a statement that it is not surprised, but is disappointed with ASCRS decision to limit O.D. participation. The AOA also feels it is inappropriate to require signed statements from those O.D.s that do attend courses, presentations and other events because scope of practice should be determined by state laws.
To my colleagues who have attended ASCRS and have now been insulted by being asked to sign a statement, why dont you come to optometrys meeting? asks AOA President Wesley E. Pittman, O.D., referring to the AOA Congress. The AOA does not require you to sign any statement that insults your professionalism.
Dr. Pittman adds that when O.D.s take the optometric oath, they pledge to share information with fellow optometrists and other professionals for the benefit of patients.