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February 2006

Academy Notebook

• What’s Happening
• Washington Report
• Academy Store
• Meeting Matters
• Members At Large

What’s Happening

Member Survey Tracks Changes in Services That Eye M.D.s Offer
Ophthalmologists provide a variety of vision care services. As the practice and business of ophthalmology changes, the Academy tracks changes in services that are offered by its members’ practices.

“Data from our 2005 membership survey show a significant trend among ophthalmology groups to offer low vision services,” said Ruth D. Williams, MD, Academy secretary for Member Services. Twenty-eight percent of respondents provide vision rehabilitation, up six percent from 2003 data.

“More and more practices are making low vision a priority,” she said. “We have an increased awareness of the potential for helping our low vision patients, as well as
increased resources for helping practices initiate rehabilitation services. SmartSight, the Academy’s vision rehabilitation program, contributes greatly to this expansion.”

SmartSight’s mission is to help Eye M.D.s serve patients whose best acuity is 20/50 or less. It provides patient education materials and information about additional low vision resources. It also helps physicians to establish low vision services.

SmartSight is a four-tier initiative, with Level 1 asking all ophthalmologists to download, duplicate and distribute a patient handout. This six-page, large-print handout offers advice on how to cope with vision loss and lists some key resources. To download this patient handout, and to find out about Levels 2, 3 and 4 of the SmartSight initiative, visit

The survey results also indicate that nearly half (48 percent) of ophthalmology groups offer refractive surgery, up significantly from the 2003 survey. “The obvious trend is to provide refractive surgery,” said Dr. Williams. “This reflects the mainstreaming of refractive surgery, both for patients and for ophthalmologists.”

Several services remain central to ophthalmology practices. Ophthalmology groups participate in managed care contracts (73 percent) at about the same rate as in past years, and most groups accept Medicare (93 percent). As in past surveys, well over half (57 percent) of respondents report that their practice has a dispensary.

2005 AAO member survey

A Consumer Advocacy Group Publishes White Paper on U.S. Eye Care
In the struggle to promote and protect quality eye care, Eye M.D.s have gained an important ally—the National Consumers League.

In its white paper on eye care providers, the NCL discusses the results of a survey on the public’s knowledge of eye care providers.

The report discusses potential changes in scope of practice and the impact that they might have on consumers.

It also provides consumers with a framework for making decisions on eye care providers and urges them to ask questions about credentialing and training.

To read the NCL report, go online at


Got Tips on Glaucoma Compliance? Your Help Is Needed
Why do many glaucoma patients find it difficult to use their medications or to see their doctors regularly?

The American Glaucoma Society invites doctors, other health professionals and patients to visit its Web site and submit ideas for overcoming barriers to effective glaucoma treatment. Monetary awards are available for the best ideas.

For more information, visit and select “The AGS Patient Care Improvement Project.”

Optical Dispensing Is the Focus of AAOE’s First Web Conference
In March, the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives will host its first Web conference—Maximizing Your Optical Dispensary; Pitfalls, Pearls and Profit Potential.

Presenter Art De Gennaro will offer advice on integrating the dispensary into the medical practice, benchmarks, inventory control, pricing and marketing. The Web conference will be delivered live over the telephone, and you will be able to view the speaker’s slides online as he presents.

It will take place on Tuesday, March 14, from 11 a.m. to noon PST. The fee is $130 for members of the AAOE or Academy ($165 for nonmembers), and your practice pays only once, regardless of the number of people participating.

If you are unable to attend the event, a compact disc will be available for purchase afterward. This CD will include both the audio and slides.

For more information on next month’s Web conference, visit

Online Database Lists Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
What if a patient can’t afford the treatment that you prescribe? You can now go online to find out if a pharmaceutical assistance program is available for a particular drug. EyeCare America, in partnership with Needy-Meds Inc., has created an online directory to help you and your patients find out about the most current ophthalmic drug assistance.

Eligibility requirements and forms can be accessed from this site and are updated monthly.

To see this directory, visit and click on “Assistance with Medications”.

Review Your Current Membership Listing
Ensure that the information online at “Find an Eye M.D.” and “Find a Colleague” is accurate. These two databases are valuable resources for patient referrals, as well as
an indispensable tool for colleagues who wish to keep in touch with you.

To review and update your listing, go to, select “Member Services” and choose “Update Your Membership Listing.” Any questions? Please contact Member Services by phone, 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8581, or by e-mail,

Washington Report

Come to Washington as a Physician-Advocate
Ophthalmologists continue to face critical challenges—including the fight for fair Medicare reimbursement, the struggle to expand access to ASCs and the threat of nonphysicians expanding their scope of practice. For ophthalmologists to win on these issues, they must be a forceful voice on Capitol Hill.

Meet your legislators during Advocacy Day, April 5–6. The 2006 Congressional Advocacy Day features a dinner briefing on April 5 followed by an opportunity on April 6 to lobby your members of Congress on issues that are important to your patients and practice. “With so many crucial legislative matters facing ophthalmology today, we don’t have the luxury of complacency when it comes to federal policy making. No place is this truer than in the fight for fair Medicare physician payment,” said Peter J. Whitted, JD, MD, chairman of the Academy’s Congressional Advocacy Committee. “Every ophthalmologist has a stake in the Academy’s advocacy efforts and Advocacy Day is a great way to get involved.”

Learn how to lobby like a K Street pro. No prior lobbying experience is necessary. The Academy provides training to Advocacy Day participants on the issues and on effective lobbying tactics. The Academy’s Federal Affairs staff will schedule appointments for you to meet with your congressional representatives and their staff. “One of the great things about Advocacy Day is that when we go to Capitol Hill we are constituents talking with our elected representatives. There are few more powerful ways to deliver ophthalmology’s message to Congress because members pay attention to their constituents’ concerns,” said Randy L. Johnston, MD, the Academy’s senior secretary for Advocacy.

Earn CME. Advocacy Day is held in conjunction with the Academy’s Mid-Year Forum (April 5–8). CME credits are available for attending MYF sessions, as well as for the Advocacy Day dinner briefing on April 5.

Register for free. Register online at until mid-March. There is no fee to participate in Advocacy Day. For more information, contact Denna Suko at 202-737-6662.


Academy Store

See What’s New in Glaucoma and Retina
At the Academy’s Annual Meeting in Chicago, leading ophthalmologists presented the latest developments in the fields of retina and glaucoma as part of the Lifelong Education for the Ophthalmologist (LEO) Clinical Update Course series.

Those presentations are now available on DVD-ROM. (A DVD-ROM is similar to a CD-ROM, but it has a greater storage capacity.) 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.

The LEO Clinical Update Course on Glaucoma DVD-ROM (Product #0212301) covers:

  • major clinical trials and their impact on clinical practice
  • advances in surgical and medical therapy
  • advances in perimetry, optic nerve and RNFL analysis.

The LEO Clinical Update Course on Retina DVD-ROM (#0212302) covers:

  • new medical and surgical treatments for AMD, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, and inflammatory and infectious disease
  • new diagnostic imaging modalities for assessing retinal conditions

Each DVD-ROM offers up to three hours of category 1 CME credit and costs $149 for members ($179 for nonmembers).

To order a DVD-ROM, visit or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558.

Meeting Matters

Las Vegas 2006
The Academy last met in Las Vegas in 1988, and since then, the city has become even more family-friendly. Most hotels have pools, and many feature diversions like video arcades, roller coasters and other amusements. You can catch a Broadway musical, a magician, acrobats and even a circus; or venture out to play golf, go horseback riding or explore the Grand Canyon.

This year’s Joint Meeting will take place at Sands Expo at the Venetian, Nov. 11–14. It is preceded by Subspecialty Day, Nov. 10–11. Join your colleagues in Las Vegas—and bring your family along.

For the latest information on the Joint Meeting, Subspecialty Day or the city of Las Vegas, visit

“Best of Show” Videos
Want to be “Best of Show”? Participate in the 2006 video program and take a shot at joining these winners from last year’s Annual Meeting in Chicago:

  • Iqbal K. Ahmed, MD for Microinstrumentation in the Anterior Segment
  • Klaus D. Teichmann, MD, for LAG Bubble for Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty
  • Robert L. Schultze, MD, for More Surgical Pearls and Pitfalls of Deep Lamellar Endothelial Keratoplasty (DLEK)
  • Catherine J. Heatley, MBBS, BSc, for The Baerveldt Glaucoma Implant: A New Technique for More Consistent IOP Control
  • Milan G. J. Izak, MD, PhD, for Artiflex Myopia PIOL Implantation
  • Biju Raju, MD, for Initial Experience With True Bimanual Vitrectomy
  • Takashi Kitaoka, MD, for Transcorneal Three-Port Vitrectomy Without Conjunctival Incision.

The winning videos are selected by the Annual Meeting Program Committee based on educational value, originality and expert use of the medium.

To take part in the 2006 video program, you must submit your abstract online. The online submitter opens on March 15 and closes on April 11. You must also send the Academy your actual film no later than April 28. Be sure to download the guidelines first.

Any questions? E-mail or fax 415-561-8576.

New Orleans 2007
After careful deliberation, the Academy’s board of trustees voted in October to reaffirm that its Annual Meeting will return to New Orleans in 2007. Rebuilding is well under way in Louisiana. Many hotels have reopened, and more than 500 restaurants have been inspected and approved to reopen. New Orleans is planning a complete remodeling of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which will be ready by this spring, a full 18 months before the 2007 Annual Meeting.

The Academy is pleased to demonstrate its commitment to the rebuilding efforts of New Orleans, which in 2007 will host the Academy meeting for the fourth time in 10 years.

Members at Large

From Residents to Presidents—Eye M.D.s Prepare for the Annual Mid-Year Forum
The 2006 Mid-Year Forum will take place in Washington, D.C., April 5–8.

What’s on the agenda? Topics that will be discussed include:

  • the Academy’s ongoing efforts to improve reimbursement and fix the flawed sustainable growth rate formula
  • an update on potential practice models to improve practice efficiency from the Academy’s Task Force on Eye Care Delivery
  • the future of learning, adopting and measuring new surgical skills and evidence-based medicine
  • some emerging ethical issues, including professional integrity in research
  • the preparedness of the health care system to respond to catastrophes such as hurricanes or an outbreak of avian flu.

Who will participate? Leaders from the Academy—including councilors and committee chairs—will be joined by leaders from ophthalmic state, subspecialty and specialized interest societies. Young Eye M.D.s who are in residency or fellowship training will be sponsored to attend as part of the Advocacy Ambassador Program. In the third year of this pilot program, the Academy is partnering with ophthalmic state, subspecialty and specialized interest societies to include members-in-training as special guests at the Mid-Year Forum.

Training a new generation of advocates. The Advocacy Ambassador Program was generated by two graduates of the Academy’s Leadership Development Program—Jennifer H. Smith, MD, and Beth K. Bruening, MD—with the goals of: 1) training future advocates, 2) helping residents understand the importance of active involvement in their state ophthalmology societies and 3) exposing residents to critical issues being discussed during the Mid-Year Forum and Council sessions.

One resident’s experience. As a resident, Robert F. Melendez, MD, was sponsored by the New Mexico Ophthalmological Society (NMOS) to attend the 2004 Mid-Year Forum. He came away energized. According to Mark Chiu, MD, NMOS councilor and president-elect, “the enthusiasm that Dr. Melendez had during Congressional Advocacy Day has carried over into a very active role in NMOS. He made tremendous contributions to advocacy efforts opposing optometric scope of surgery expansion, even meeting Gov. Bill Richardson and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. In a short time, he has become a leader within our state.” NMOS executive director Sylvia Burns added, “Dr. Melendez has great ideas for improving NMOS. He started by surveying members to determine what type of membership benefits they were interested in and what they would like on a new Web site, and then applied for an educational grant to set up” Following his participation in the Mid-Year Forum, Dr. Melendez was appointed to the Academy’s Young Ophthalmologist committee. “Clearly, getting a resident engaged and excited early pays off,” stated Daniel J. Briceland, MD, Academy associate secretary for State Affairs.

For more information on the Mid-Year Forum, visit For more information on the Advocacy Ambassador Program, contact Gail Schmidt at

Who’s In the News
James P. Gallo, MD,
was quoted in an article on diabetes that was published on Nov. 23 in The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pa.).

A mummified eyeball looks like “a Cheese Doodle —very lightweight, very delicate,” said William C. Lloyd III, MD, in an article that the National Geographic Society published online in October. Dr. Lloyd is leading a team that restored the eyes of two Chilean mummies. They plan to use the eyes to investigate ancient diseases. (The article is available at

On Nov. 24, The Boston Globe noted that Emerson Hospital had honored Daniel W. Tolpin, MD, for three decades of service.

The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Ind.) interviewed Jonathan D. Walker, MD, about AMD for a Nov. 14 article.