American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
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March 2007

 
Letters
 
 

Bridging the Gap Between Eye and Body 

Dr. Gary S. Schwartz’s “The Eye Is Part of the Body” (Guest Opinion, September) was impressive and to the point. Since retiring and giving up direct patient care eight years ago, I found that there is much more to academic medicine than just the study of the eye and adnexa. Great medical conferences, grand rounds and tumor boards abound in the San Diego area, allowing me to stay up on all sorts of subjects and all parts of the body, including those below the neck.

While we are in active practice, our attention is directed primarily to those clinical conditions affecting vision and the medical equipment and drugs needed to manage these conditions. As Dr. Schwartz points out so well, we become medical recluses by failing to stay totally immersed in medicine, passing up all the activities and opportunities at our hospitals and medical societies, and standing off from our colleagues in other specialties.

If we follow Dr. Schwartz’s recommendation to bridge the gap between ophthalmologists and our nonophthalmologist colleagues, we will help keep our specialty in the forefront of medicine, where it deserves to be.

Arthur E. Oberman, MD
Carlsbad, Calif.

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Blatant Disclosure and Bias

I want to compliment Dr. Richard Mills on the Opinion piece that appeared in the November/ December EyeNet (“Disclosing Conflict of Interest: Does It Really Mitigate Bias?”). It is perfectly crafted and right on the mark. The references add chilling confirmation to his concerns about our current rules.

It would be amusing if it were not so ethically discouraging to see how presenters at our meetings proudly list their potential conflicts as assets. It seems that the longer the list of companies they consult for, the more prestigious and, presumably, the more qualified they are to enlighten us.

It has to some extent replaced, or at least supplemented, the rather passé Khrushchev/Brezhnev fashion of attaching as many ribbons as possible to one’s name tag.

Lee Shahinian Jr., MD
Mountain View, Calif.

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Spreading the Word of Volunteerism

For the last 12 years, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) has had the pleasure of partnering with the Academy Foundation’s EyeCare America Seniors EyeCare Program. While both foundations share a mission of preserving sight for the medically underserved, our traditional strengths are in serving different populations.

The KTEF provides eye care (via community ophthalmologists) to those under 65 who are unable to pay for surgical eye treatment; this includes a strong commitment to children. KTEF also is a supporter of vision research. The Seniors EyeCare Program serves only those who are 65 and older. Thus, by partnering with EyeCare America, the KTEF can provide eye care to people of all ages and expand its ability to provide grants for research in curing diseases of the eye.

As a Seniors EyeCare Program committee member as well, I have seen firsthand the ongoing dedication of EyeCare America volunteers. Nearly half of the practicing ophthalmologists in the United States volunteer their time to see patients in one of EyeCare America’s many programs. Many of these volunteers have been volunteering since its inception in 1985. This speaks volumes to the 900,000 people EyeCare America has been able to help. It also speaks highly of the Academy, the Academy’s Foundation and the profession of ophthalmology.

In the spirit of volunteerism, the KTEF recently launched a new program that supports the EyeCare America Seniors Program. Any interested KTEF member may now volunteer to spread the word about the program by distributing materials or speaking on the program’s behalf at senior centers, libraries, health fairs, etc. EyeCare America provides each KTEF volunteer with PowerPoint presentation templates and materials listing the program helpline.

Although this is a new volunteer program, we strive to be as successful as ophthalmology in encouraging our members to participate in such a worthy cause. Thank you for your commitment to service, dedication and partnership. Here’s to another decade of working together to preserve sight.

William H. Koon II
Vice President,
Knights Templar Eye Foundation
Cols Grove, Ohio

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