"Irresistible tide" can be reversed, Dr. Day urges members

February 15, 2005

As the second term of the Bush Administration begins, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) inducts its next president into office.

As the second term of the Bush Administration begins, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) inducts its next president into office.

The two leaders passed the baton during the AAO's first joint meeting with the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) in New Orleans (see "Spirit of collaboration reaches across Europe.").

In addition, 25% of ophthalmic programs are having difficulty recruiting permanent chairmen; there is an increasing turnover of residency training directors; fewer ophthalmologists are volunteering; and resident work hour rules are costing tens of thousands of dollars, according to Dr. Jensen.

However, as was the case in 2004, other challenges presented themselves. For instance, Oklahoma's Governor Brad Henry signed a regulation approved by the Oklahoma Board of Examiners in Optometry that allows optometrists to perform eye surgery with a scalpel (See Jan. 1, 2005, Ophthalmology Times).

In addition, a directive issued late last year by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reinstated a policy that only qualified ophthalmologists can perform laser eye surgery in VA health facilities (See Feb. 15, 2005, Ophthalmology Times). A previous directive permitted optometrists to perform eye surgery under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.

"There will be more challenges to face, but with our allies, we will identify the crucial issues, stay on target, and focus on the patient," said Dr. Jensen, who continues his responsibilities as associate professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. He is also in private practice in the area.

"We should be guided by our mission statement: To advance the lifelong learning and professional image of ophthalmology to ensure the public can obtain the best possible eye care," Dr. Jensen concluded.

Setting the stage As she takes the helm as the next AAO president, Dr. Day asked members to recollect the organization's recent launch of the "EyeMD" campaign.