LETTER TO THE EDITOR – Veterans deserve quality eye care

Published 4:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2022

Dear Editor,

As a retired Marine Corps reservist, I am concerned about actions the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is considering that would lower the standard of eye care for veterans. Specifically, as part of its initiative to establish national standards of practice for health professionals, the VA is taking steps to allow optometrists to perform eye surgery.
Optometrists are not trained surgeons or medical doctors. In fact, 95% of U.S. optometry students attend school in states where it is illegal for optometrists to perform eye surgery. Permitting VA optometrists to perform surgery would put veteran patients at risk.
Our veterans made sacrifices to serve this country. The least we can do is ensure they receive the highest level of care. Eye surgery is a common need among veterans resulting from advanced age or service-related injuries. Protecting the quality of eye care for veterans means the VA should maintain its long-standing policy that only ophthalmologists, who are properly trained, experienced, and educated surgeons, perform eye surgery on our retired heroes.
I am a longtime supporter of Senator Bill Cassidy and commend his work as a physician in Baton Rouge, and the U.S. Senate as a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Senator Cassidy should tell the VA he is concerned about the steps they are considering that would lower the quality of health care for veterans. He should urge the VA to maintain its current policy regarding surgical eye care. It should only be done by properly trained medical doctors and surgeons. Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care.

Quin Bates
New Orleans