The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking steps that could significantly decrease the quality of care for veterans by allowing optometrists, who are not medical doctors or trained surgeons, to perform laser eye surgery. This would put veterans’ eye health and safety at risk and could ultimately increase costs for the VA. Optometrists lack the medical education, surgical training, and clinical experience to perform surgery. Currently, the VA’s policy ensures that only ophthalmologists (medical eye surgeons) perform eye surgery on veterans. It should stay that way.
My grandfather was a World War II Navy veteran who required eye treatment at VA centers in Monroe and Shreveport. I saw firsthand how proper, high-quality eye care can increase a veteran’s quality of life. I’m grateful for the expert care that ophthalmologists provided to my grandfather.
My grandfather’s story is not unique. Eye care is one of the busiest clinical services in the VA system with more than 1.3 million unique eye care encounters in 2022. Surgical eye care is a critical part of serving those who served our nation; we cannot afford to take shortcuts.
On behalf of my grandfather and all our nation’s heroes, I urge Senator Cassidy through his role on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to protect our veterans and tell the VA to maintain its long-standing policy that only ophthalmologists provide laser eye surgery to those who served.
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE