As office-based laser procedures add to the armamentarium of medical eye care that optometry provides in an increasing number of states, Optometry’s Meeting® offers a team-learning opportunity to remain on the cutting edge of care.
‘Surgical Saturday,’ a block of 13 courses offered Saturday, June 18, during Optometry’s Meeting, delivers actionable continuing education (CE) in pathology, diagnosis, treatment protocols, billing and coding, suturing, injections and, of course, laser procedures, all in one place. With CE available for both doctors of optometry and paraoptometrics, ‘Surgical Saturday’ courses provide care teams not only pertinent education but also perspective as states weigh scope enhancements, now and into the future.
Nationwide, optometry’s advocates are determined to bolster communities’ access to the full-scope, primary eye health and vision care services that doctors of optometry are educated and capable of providing. In March 2022, Virginia became the ninth state—and third since 2021—to expand its optometric scope of practice to include office-based laser procedures, including YAG laser capsulotomy, selective laser trabeculoplasty and laser peripheral iridotomy.
“Scope expansion is certainly a strong movement right now,” says Nate Lighthizer, O.D., associate dean and associate professor at Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry, and laser course lecturer at Optometry’s Meeting in Chicago.
Adds Dr. Lighthizer: “Twelve, thirteen years ago there was one state that allowed optometrists to perform laser procedures—Oklahoma—and now there are nine different states where optometrists are doing laser procedures, and more and more are working toward scope expansion. These are office procedures—you don’t have to go to an OR for them—and optometrists are doing them successfully across the country.”
In a Q&A, the AOA asked four doctors—Alissa Coyne, O.D., Lindsay Sicks, O.D., Cecelia Koetting, O.D., and Dr. Lighthizer—lecturing on laser procedures at Optometry’s Meeting about the content their courses will cover, who can benefit from this CE and why now is the time to seek out this education.
Dr. Lighthizer, alongside ophthalmologist Leo Skorin, D.O, O.D., as well as Paul Barney, O.D., you are providing multiple laser procedure courses at Optometry’s Meeting, including a ‘Laser Learning Lab’ workshop for doctors of optometry to get hands-on with these instruments. Tell us a little about the content you plan to cover.
“We plan to cover a variety of different laser procedures, from YAG laser capsulotomy to YAG laser peripheral iridotomy to selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), even YAG laser vitreolysis, so a variety of laser procedures that optometrists and ophthalmologists do. One of our lectures is “Laser Procedures from the OD to the DO Perspective,” so myself and ophthalmologist Dr. Leo Skorin will cover all those lasers in a variety of different ways, from the preop management to the post-op management, potential complications, procedural techniques, how to do the procedures, we’re going to go through videos and answer questions for the attendees there. We’re going to cover a variety of topics through this content.
“In the “Laser Learning Lab” we’ll have lasers there and show a tutorial at the beginning of that lab, then attendees will get hands-on with YAG and SLT lasers with model eyes for SLT, YAG capsulotomy and peripheral iridotomy, so they’ll be doing actual laser procedures on model eyes.”
Dr. Lighthizer, given the string of optometric scope advances in recent years, who do you see benefiting from these laser procedures courses at Optometry’s Meeting?
“I encourage doctors and paraoptometric staff to attend these courses. I think it will be eye opening to see, ‘oh, these procedures aren’t as complex as you might think,’ and you’re well qualified to perform these laser procedures that we talk about. All doctors would benefit by going to these laser courses, just to have the perspective and see what is going on in these states, how the procedures are performed. And, even if you don’t intend to perform the procedures, you can see the preoperative considerations, seeing the post-op management, that’s only going to make everyone a better doctor. For all doctors—whether you plan on doing the procedures or plan on not doing the procedures and just co-managing them—there’s going to be something for everybody in these laser lectures.”
Drs. Coyne and Sicks, you are lecturing jointly on several laser procedure courses at Optometry’s Meeting, including ‘YAG Laser Procedures,’ ‘Ophthalmic Lasers in Optometry,’ and ‘Chairside Skills for Laser Procedures,’ the latter two available as joint doctor/paraoptometric courses. Why are these courses beneficial to take in an integrated setting?
“It is important for doctors of optometry and staff to have background knowledge on these laser procedures in order to better care for our patients. With a collaborative approach, this course can help outline the responsibilities of each individual during the procedure and ensure seamless care is delivered.”
Drs. Coyne and Sicks, we’ll pose the same question to you as Dr. Lighthizer—why is now such an opportune time to learn about ophthalmic lasers in optometry?
“With the increasing number of states with surgical authority and moving toward scope expansion, we are in an evolving landscape for optometric care. This is the time for education on what our patients will be experiencing, whether we are the ones performing the procedures or whether we will be referring them out.”
Adds Dr. Coyne: “That’s why our courses will cover the most common anterior segment laser procedures. Additionally, we will cover the expected response of ocular tissues, laser settings, expected outcomes, and practical knowledge for the management and follow-up of ophthalmic laser procedures.”
Dr. Koetting, your course, ‘Ocular Surgeries and the Role of the Paraoptometric,’ from 1-2 p.m., Saturday, June 18, is a paraoptometric-specific course available for CPC credit. Tell us a little about what you plan to cover.
“Within this course we will be discussing the expanding scope of optometry and some of the more common procedures that are currently being performed in-office. This will include procedures such as chalazion incision and removal, lump and bump biopsy, IPL, meibomian gland treatments, blepharon-exfoliation, etc. We will discuss what these procedures are, what they are for, how they are performed and how our paraoptometric staff can assist in these areas.”
Dr. Koetting, we’ll pose the same question to you as Drs. Coyne and Sicks—why should paraoptometrics consider taking your course, or why should doctors encourage their staff to attend?
“This course is great for both paraoptometrics and doctors. For our paraoptometrics, they will learn more about what is currently or may soon be performed in their office by their doctors. As for the doctors, it will be a good discussion about how their staff can help when implementing these procedures into their clinic.”
Interested in learning more about Optometry’s Meeting? Access the 2022 Conference Preview for full event descriptions, agendas and more, or check out the social conversation on #OM2022 and see what all the buzz is about.
Optometry’s Meeting®, June 15-18, in Chicago