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The Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology (TNAO) opposes a recent bill that would allow optometrists to inject local anesthetic into the tissue surrounding the eye in order to perform surgery.
Nashville, TN-The Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology (TNAO) has announced opposition to a recently filed bill that, as amended, would allow optometrists to inject local anesthetic into the tissue surrounding the eye in order to perform surgery.
Optometrists in Tennessee are currently restricted to using topical anesthetic to remove what they call “lumps and bumps.” The legislation would allow optometrists to perform more advanced surgical procedures that require an injectable anesthetic.
“This legislation would create an unnecessary risk to patients and is a threat to the quality of surgical care in Tennessee,” said Ben Mahan, MD, president of the TNAO. “Anytime a needle is placed near the eye, there are serious risks to the patient that require clinical experience and expert judgment. A surgical error of just a few millimeters can result in a punctured eyeball and catastrophic vision loss.”
A statewide survey of registered voters showed that Tennesseans overwhelmingly support a current state law that requires those performing eye surgeries, including laser eye correction procedures, to have a medical degree. The survey was conducted on behalf of the TNAO to gauge public awareness of the difference in training between ophthalmologists and optometrists, and also to test opinions on loosening the current regulations on who can perform eye surgical procedures.
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