Reject bill to allow optometrists to perform surgery

The eye is a wonderous and complex organ. The sight that it gives us is to be cherished and protected. Having done surgery as an ophthalmologist for more than 30 years, I know firsthand the challenges of operating on the eye. It is a fine art honed by years of practice based on many years of study. The privilege to do surgery should be based on extensive training and skills that only a full medical school and ophthalmology residency provide.

The intricacies of safe and successful surgery, the ability to handle complex situations, the forethought to anticipate risks to the patient and the patient’s sight cannon be learned without extensive training. The ability to handle complications and salvage sight comes only with extensive practice.

Currently, the Mississippi Legislature is considering House Bill 1302 that would allow optometrists to perform surgical procedures in and around the eye. Optometrists are neither physicians nor surgeons. They have not attended medical school. They have not been trained as surgeons. Allowing optometrists to wield scalpels and lasers to operate on our eyes is simply dangerous and not in the best interest of Mississippians.

Please do not allow this surgical proposal by optometrists to see the light of day. Please protect our citizens from the danger that will certainly occur if you legislate surgical privileges to those who really have no training in being physicians or surgeons. The right to operate on this most delicate and precious organ should be learned, not legislated. It should be earned through medical school and ophthalmology residency training, not paid for by those seeking the privilege of surgery.

Please contact your state representatives and urge them to VOTE NO on House Bill 1302.

Jeffrey N. Cook, M.D.

Meridian

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