Should Eye Medicine be Vertically Integrated?

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Full Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2009
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I'm interested to hear how opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists feel about the idea of vertical integration of the field of eye-care. As it is, it seems a fair amount of bickering goes on about who should be permitted to do what — O.D.s throw a fit hearing opticians may be allowed to refract, as O.M.D.s are annoyed to learn optometrists wish to perform any sort of what can be called surgery. The structure through which education within the three fields is gained is wholly disjointed. Historically, I believe this can be understood, but, practically as well as idealistically, I wonder if people feel the strong separation between the professions would or would not be better to be dissolved.

Currently, an optician who's worked at an optical for a number of years, and has decided he'd like to "do what the doctor does," must jump through those exact hoops as the recipient of a fresh B.A. or B.S.; I feel it's unfortunate and illogical he or she should have to. Rather, it seems reasonable to me programs should exist that conduct an examination of his ability as an optician, then offer an altered and abbreviated route to the O.D., forgoing the bowels of optics and omitting the too-basic aspects of clinicianry.

Likewise, O.D.s who, after four years of class-room and clinical training, wish to expand how they may treat the eye — wish to handle cases that require surgery — must, as their only options, be content with what they do, else endeavor to bear the financial and personal burdens of M.D. or D.O. education.

O.M.D.s can be seen as at the highest rung of the ladder, and thus less moved toward any sort of vertical integration, but, in their case, too, several would rather avoid some of the more general, lengthy aspects of medicince, should they be sure, early on, they wish to target eye health.

I feel it's altogether silly and harmful, and I fail to see what benefits the current system offers. How, if at all, do others feel about the matter?

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