American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
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March 2005

 
Academy Notebook
 
 
What’s Happening

FYI

Academy Store

Meeting Matters

Washington Report

Members at Large

What’s Happening

Foundation Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology has launched a new Web site (see www.faao. org) and advertising campaign (check EyeNet and Ophthalmology throughout this year).

Established in 1980, the Foundation has worked diligently to fund and implement programs that advance ophthalmic education and patient care. These programs include the following:

The Academy Education Fund. This program supports research and the development of educational products and services that expedite the transfer of critical ophthalmic knowledge to ophthalmologists.

International Assistance. In many parts of the world, there are not enough trained professionals to provide quality eye care services. The Foundation provides free Academy educational materials to training programs in developing countries. It also provides ophthalmologists in those regions with opportunities to take courses at the Academy’s Annual Meeting.

EyeCare America. A corps of 7,500 volunteer ophthalmologists provides eye care services to the medically underserved and to those who are particularly at risk for eye disease. ECA programs focus on glaucoma, diabetes, seniors and children. Since 1985, these programs have helped more than 700,000 people.

Ophthalmic Heritage & the Museum of Vision. Ophthalmology and the Academy have played important roles in the history of medicine. The Foundation’s Museum of Vision preserves this history and translates it into an educational resource for use by Academy members, medical historians, researchers and the public as they seek to understand ophthalmology’s contributions to society and address similar challenges today and in the future.

The Foundation would like to recognize those individuals, foundations and corporations that have supported its work and mission over the last 25 years.

For more information, visit www.faao.org.

A Bicentennial of Eye Care at Moorfields

In 1804, trachoma was reaching epidemic proportions in England. It had been brought back from Egypt by British troops who had been fighting against Napoleon’s army. The spread of trachoma prompted John Cunningham Saunders and colleagues to open the London Dispensary for Curing Diseases of the Eye and Ear in early 1805.

Now known as Moorfields Eye Hospital, the institute celebrates its bicentennial this month. It is holding a four-day scientific conference to coincide with the date that patients first crossed its threshold (March 16–19) and plans additional events throughout the year.

To find out more, visit www.oic.it/moorfields2005.

FYI

Mantenga Su Vista: Monthly Campaigns Are Now Bilingual

Throughout the year, the Eye M.D. monthly observances provide you with an opportunity to educate the public about eye health and safety.

Free campaign materials now include English- and Spanish-language patient handouts and posters.

Upcoming campaigns include Sports Eye Safety Month (April), Healthy Vision Month (May), Fireworks Eye Safety Month (June) and UV Safety Month (July).

For more information, or to download free materials, visit www.aao.org/eyemd.

For One Week in May, Participate in the Eye Injury Snapshot Project

For a one-week period, May 15–22, the Academy is asking all ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents and emergency room physicians to report every eye injury treated.

The data will provide insight into the nature and prevalence of ocular injuries. It will also be used to build public awareness and promote eye safety.

For more information, visit www.aao.org/snapshot.

Get Your Ethics CME for the Maintenance of Certification Process

The American Board of Ophthalmology states, “All Diplomates participating in MOC must obtain an average of 30 category 1 CME credits per year . . . Three CME credits must be in ethics.”

Is it hard to get your ethics CME? Not really. The Academy’s ethics program offers several ways to do so:

  • Ethics Education Lecture Program. This complimentary lecture program is offered to all residency training programs nationwide. The program uses case studies, submitted by residents in advance, to stimulate practical problem solving. These lectures can be made CME-compatible provided the residency program at which the lecture is being offered is ACCME approved. This program is made possible in part by sponsorship from Alcon Laboratories Inc.
  • Online Courses. The Ethical Ophthalmologist Series offers three online courses covering the impact of ethical issues on everyday decision-making. Courses are designed using case studies with questions and discussion, providing an opportunity to recognize and analyze ethical dilemmas. Each course is approved for 1 ethics-specific credit in category 1 CME and costs $15 for members ($30 for nonmembers). Visit www.aao.org/ethicscourses for the three courses: Commercial Relationships, Compensation & Advertising; Informed Consent, Doctor-Patient Relationship and Delegated Services; and Research, New Technology and Collegiality.
  • Audio CDs. The three online courses noted above are also available on CD for doctors who prefer to listen to the course content at home or on the road. Each course is approximately one hour long, is approved for 1 ethics-specific credit in category 1 CME and costs $25 for members ($40 for nonmembers). Order these CDs at www.aao.org/store.
  • Annual Meeting Courses and Roundtables. Annual Meeting Instruction Courses and Breakfast with the Experts Roundtables each offer 1 ethics-specific credit in category 1 CME.

For additional information, contact the Ethics department by e-mail, ethics@ aao.org, phone, 888-393-3671 or fax, 415-561-8595.

Update Your Membership Listing

Ensure that information printed in the next membership directory and published online at Find an Eye M.D. is complete and accurate by going online to review and update your listing. Go to www.aao.org, select “Member Services” and choose “Update Your Membership Listing.”

The membership directory and Find an Eye M.D. are valuable resources for patient referrals, as well as an indispensable tool for colleagues who wish to keep in touch with you.

Any questions? Please contact Member Services by phone, 888-393-3671 (toll-free) or 415-561-8581, or e-mail, member_services @aao.org.

Academy Store

What’s New in Neuro-Ophthalmology?

At the Academy’s Joint Meeting in New Orleans, leading neuro-ophthalmologists presented the latest developments in their field as part of the Lifelong Education for the Ophthalmologist (LEO) clinical update course series.

Those presentations are now available on CD-ROM. By viewing these courses—which combine slides, text, video and audio exactly as originally presented—you can maintain competency without leaving your office or home. High-quality image magnification and a rapid search function make them a convenient resource for everyday use.

LEO Clinical Update Course on Neuro-Ophthalmology (Product #0212298) covers new diagnostic techniques in electrophysiology and neuroimaging, and new treatment strategies for a variety of neuro-ophthalmic conditions, particularly optic neuropathies.

This CD-ROM carries up to 3 hours of category 1 CME credit and costs $149 for members and $179 for nonmembers.

To order a CD-ROM, visit www.aao.org/store or phone the Academy Service Center at 888-393-3671.

Six New Resources to Educate Your Patients

Patient education tools from the Academy can help your patients understand their conditions and reinforce what you tell them in your office. Several new products are now available:

  • Three new Eye Fact Sheets—Fuchs Dystrophy (#057146), Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (#057148) and Bell’s Palsy (#057150)—can be previewed online at www. aao.org/store. They provide an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatment methods for each condition. A package of 25 Eye Fact Sheets costs $9 for members; $11 for nonmembers.
  • CK for Presbyopia (#051- 130) and Wavefront-Guided LASIK (051132) are the latest brochures. A pack of 100 brochures costs $30 for members; $38 for nonmembers.
  • Advances in Refractive Surgery (#054125) is a suite of PowerPoint presentations that explains 11 procedures. Topics include LASIK, wavefront-guided laser surgery and CK. It will debut in April at the ASCRS annual meeting. Stop by the Academy’s booth (#620) to see it for yourself. It will cost $190 for members; $245 for nonmembers.

To buy Patient Education products, phone the Academy Service Center at 888-393-3671 (toll-free) or 415-561-8500, fax 415-561-8575 or go online at www.aao.org/store.

Meeting Matters

Last Call for Abstracts

The abstract submission deadline is April 12 for scientific exhibits, papers/posters and videos.

If you plan to submit a video, the Academy needs your abstract by April 12 and your actual videotape no later than April 29.

Submissions for instruction courses and labs closed on Jan. 11.

Abstracts must be submitted online at www.aao. org. Be sure to download the guidelines before making your submission.

For additional information, send an e-mail to meetings@aao.org or phone 415-447-0343.

International Attendees

Most visitors to the United States will require a visitor visa upon entry. Secure a visitor’s visa through the U.S. Department of State. You are advised to apply as early as possible. Visit the Academy’s Web site to learn about the latest developments and to personalize a letter of invitation that will assist you in your visa process.

For more information, go to www.aao.org/annual_ meeting and select “Visa Information.”

Keynote Speaker: “How Will Genomics Impact Eye Care?”

Breakthroughs in the field of genomics, particularly the sequencing of the human genome, will improve understanding of the role of genetic factors in eye disease and allow a more precise definition of the nongenetic factors involved. How will these advances be applied to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye disease?

Francis D. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute, will share his insights when he gives the keynote speech at this year’s Opening Session.

Washington Report

Surgery by Surgeons

In 2004, ophthalmology drew a line in the sand. Faced with a VA directive allowing optometrists to perform laser eye surgery, organized medicine—led by the Academy—came together with unprecedented unity and waged an all-out battle to protect our nation’s veterans.

A successful coalition. Though the controversy raged on throughout 2004, it was a year destined to end in triumph for our patients and profession thanks to a well-organized and well-funded alliance. The Academy has many to thank for this victory:

  • The Academy’s partners in the Veterans Eye Treatment Safety (VETS) Coalition—including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery—who helped to win the support of 74 members of Congress.
  • Academy members who wrote thousands of letters to their congressional representatives and gave generously to the Surgical Scope Fund.
  • State and subspecialty societies who supported the grassroots efforts.
  • The veterans groups—the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart—that endorsed the “Surgery by Surgeons” campaign.

With this impressive coalition behind the Academy, the VA ultimately repealed its policy allowing optometric laser surgery.

A continuing challenge. It was a decisive victory for veterans and patients, but a similar challenge to patient safety persists in Oklahoma. This state remains the frontline in ophthalmology’s ongoing battle for high-quality eye care, and optometry continually threatens to open other fronts. Optometry is pushing for surgical scope expansion in state legislatures across America. The Academy is poised to work with state ophthalmological societies to derail any bills that imperil patient safety.

The past year’s events stand as a lesson to us all. If we are to protect our patients and profession, we must get involved politically. Complacency is no longer an option. We’ve seen what can happen when we start down that slippery slope. Together, physicians can protect the citizens of Oklahoma and the rest of the nation.

What You Can Do. The Academy’s Surgical Scope Fund allows Eye M.D.s to band together in the battle over quality eye care. Last year, it was used to inject the concept of “Surgery by Surgeons” into campaigns across Oklahoma. As a result, many new legislators who took their seats in January will be more receptive to concerns about patient care. Visit www.aao.org/ssf to make a secure online contribution.

Members At Large

Medicine in Iraq. Leading Iraqi physicians tapped Michael W. Brennan, MD, for advice on accreditation, certification and licensure. Participants at a forum last December included (from left to right; back row) Hikmat Shaarbaf, MD, Mahmud Thamers, MD, Dr. Brennan, Muhsin Al Sabbak, MD, Mohammed F. Khalifa, PhD, and (front row) Nazar Elhassani, MD, Reyad Azzawi, MD, and Abdul Hadi Khalili, MD.

Iraqi Physicians Tackle the Fundamentals of Organized Medicine

At the request of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, the Academy’s International Envoy Michael W. Brennan, MD, has been working with Iraqi physicians to help them develop representative, self-sustaining medical societies. Who sets the standards for accreditation, licensure and certification? Physicians in Iraq are seizing the opportunity to get directly involved. In late January, Dr. Brennan sent this update:

While Gallup Polls have established the American public’s preference for licensed certified physicians, the Iraqi public has been preoccupied with preferences for elected governance and the rule of law. Fortunately, Iraqi physicians—such as Abdul Hadi Khalili, MD—and interim ministers have been setting the stage for high standards in medical education and training. 

Dr. Khalili, who trained initially in ophthalmology and subsequently in neurosurgery, is one of the most prominent orbital/neurosurgeons in the Middle East. Following the overthrow of Saddam’s regime, he quickly volunteered his services as a physician-leader working to reshape the health care system from one shrouded by seclusion, sanction and servitude. Dr. Khalili participated in the first Iraqi Medical Specialty Forum and was selected by the minister of Health to oversee medical licensure.

Identified as a leader and collaborator, he was kidnapped by insurgents, held for ransom and released after threats to his family and his fingers.

After returning to practice, he was contacted by the minister of Higher Education who asked him to find ways to improve Iraq’s medical education system. Medical advisors from both the United States and the United Kingdom had observed an extremely wide variety of sophistication and capacity in the 16 Iraqi medical colleges. Most are critically limited. No valid medical licensure or regulation system exists and specialty certification is more random than regulated. Dr. Khalili agreed to explore the U.S. approach to medical education for systems and best practices that could be imported to Iraq.

In the fall of 2004, Dr. Khalili met with representatives of the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, the AMA and the American Association of Medical Colleges. He engaged the National Board of Medical Examiners to develop a modified version of the U.S. medical licensure exam (USMLE) for incorporation into a prospectively rejuvenated medical college curriculum.

Officials from the Maryland Board of Physicians explained registration, MD licensure and physician discipline proceedings. Pat Wilkinson, MD, chairman of the American Board of Ophthalmology, described the role of the American Board of Medical Specialties and individual specialty boards in certification and recertification. Dr. Khalili expressed amazement at the universal opportunities for direct physician involvement in setting the standards for accreditation and examination, licensure and certification. He convinced the minister of Higher Education to send medical college deans, the chairman of the Iraqi board and the dean of the Baghdad College of Nursing to Amman, Jordan, in December to discuss issues of accreditation, licensure and certification. They chartered a medical commission to accredit all Iraqi medical colleges, examine students with the modified USMLE and subsequently apply the same principles to graduate medical education.

As a forerunner to this, the Iraqi Ophthalmology Society has sponsored conduct of the International Council of Ophthalmology Basic Science examination in April 2004 and April 2005 for residents and young ophthalmologists.

Among the 1,300 international examinees who took last year’s ICO examination, the highest score was achieved by an Iraqi resident.

The state ophthalmological societies in Hawaii, North Carolina and Maryland have contributed to defray costs
of this year’s ICO Basic Science exam. 

While the Iraqi Ophthalmology and Neurosurgery Societies remain fragile, Dr. Khalili and his colleagues continue to champion professionalism in medicine. They recognize that elective governments along with constitutionally empowered, physician-directed medical commissions and boards will guarantee the Iraqi public the quality and safety they deserve.