Not that many years ago, instruction for optometrists on minor surgical procedures started gaining prominence in the conference lineups at SECO and elsewhere, showing that these responsibilities were moving out of the realm of niche cases for those practicing in rural areas (the traditional argument for optometric surgery). Naturally, we at Review were excited to publicize that. This magazine has always aimed to be both a mirror to the profession’s changes and at the same time a catalyst for them, by championing the next wave of optometric evolution.

“The SECO states have always led the way, with West Virginia and North Carolina passing some of the first diagnostic and therapeutic bills,” says SECO Education Chair Paul C. Ajamian, OD. “SECO was there to provide education along with the new legislation. Of course we have met with opposition from medicine all along the way, and that will never change. Neither will SECO’s commitment to advancing the profession.”

Still, worries about what organized medicine might think of this development had the profession a bit skittish about openly flying the flag for optometric surgery up until fairly recently, so we had to take a more subdued approach to the way we presented this new endeavour in our coverage of the bigger meetings like SECO.

Fast forward to today. We’re working on our plans for coverage of SECO 2024—and are pleased to see that a new Surgical & Aesthetics Skills Pavilion, will be prominently visible, plain as day, in the exhibit hall next year and that a variety of instructional courses will run throughout the main SECO educational program.

“These courses are delivered by experienced doctors of optometry and medical colleagues who have the same vision for the future,” adds Dr. Ajamian, who points to the involvement of Richard Castillo—who’s both an OD and DO—in the surgical offerings at SECO 2024.

This feels appropriate for where we are, collectively, as a profession right now. The educational content on laser and incisional techniques is clinically sophisticated and the profession exudes confidence in its skills and its future. I think that comes through clearly in the slate of features that make up this issue’s 30th Annual Surgery Report, which, not surprisingly, has come to be dominated by optometric surgery in the last few years. Surgical comanagement undoubtedly remains important, but ODs are increasingly happy to drop the co- and just go ahead and manage what they can.

“SECO and Review have partnered for many years to deliver cutting-edge education that established a new path for the profession,” notes Dr. Ajamian.  “With 10 states having laser laws and more to come, we’ve taken the lead in creating learning labs and didactic sessions that allow ODs to become more comfortable with surgical procedures.”

To that we say: full speed ahead. 

Of course, it’s critical to remember that an opportunity is not an obligation. Optometric surgery may be the destiny of the profession, but not every individual OD. Pursue what works for you.

So, if you’re going to SECO 2024, be sure to swing by the surgical area in the exhibit hall for a demonstration—not just of the procedures, but of a profession that’s growing in its capabilities and confidence, even if you don’t intend to add those responsibilities yourself.