IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

December 23, 2004

No. 04-048


Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext. 146
(301) 996-0901


Vietnam Veterans of America Applauds VA Decision to
Rescind Authority of Optometrists to
Perform Laser Eye Surgery
 


(Washington, D.C.) – “Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) commends the leadership at the Veterans Health Administration for seeing the light and rescinding its policy initiative permitting optometrists to perform laser eye surgery on VA patients in VA facilities,” said Thomas H. Corey, National President of VVA. 

“This initiative – VHA Directive 2004-045 – had the potential of being detrimental to veterans and their precious gift of sight,” Corey said.  “Permitting optometrists, who are not licensed surgeons, to perform this procedure not only puts patients at risk, it also carries significant legal liability issues.  The VA deserves credit for recognizing an unworkable policy and ending it.”   

One of the problems, acknowledged by VA officials, is that a work group of optometrists and ophthalmologists could not agree on how supervisory rules would be implemented.  “Instead of seeking to push through an agreement, the VA cut its losses and opted to do the right and honorable thing,” Corey said. 

VA policy as noted in the new VHA Directive 2004-070, now calls for therapeutic laser eye procedures to be performed only by ophthalmologists with the requisite training and expertise.  Each medical center director will be responsible for ensuring that privileges to perform such surgeries are granted to ophthalmologists who meet the stated criteria.

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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