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May 2009

Academy Notebook

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What's Happening 

Share Your Eye Injury Cases This Month

A busy mother cleaning her oven without eye protection splashes chemicals in her eyes, requiring an emergency trip to the ophthalmologist. While this scenario might sound familiar to ophthalmologists, last year’s Academy public survey showed that it’s not what comes to mind when nonphysicians think of eye injuries.

Through this month’s sixth annual Eye Injury Snapshot, the Academy is working to change that by asking all ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents and emergency room physicians to report every eye injury treated during the week of May 17.

In past years, physicians submitting eye injury reports said that about half of the injuries could have been avoided through patient education or the use of protective eyewear. Part of such education is correcting people’s misperceptions about the settings and activities that present a risk of eye injuries. Through the Eye Injury Snapshot, the Academy and its partner, the American Society of Ocular Trauma, receive a host of new data on when, where and how eye injuries occur throughout the country.

These findings are in turn used to generate news coverage that can educate the public.

Participating in this year’s snapshot is easy. A one-page questionnaire can be downloaded at and submitted electronically or via fax.



Membership Dues for 2009—A Reminder

Have you paid your 2009 membership dues? The Academy must receive your payment by June 1 to guarantee that you continue to enjoy the many benefits of membership, which include uninterrupted delivery of the specialty’s leading peer-reviewed and clinical news publications, Ophthalmology and EyeNet Magazine.

Renew your membership and pay your dues online at, by phone at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8581, or by fax at 415-561-8575.


Serve Your Colleagues

By volunteering on one of the more than 60 Academy committees, you can help the Academy serve its members more effectively.

In early summer, the Academy will compile a registry of members who want to volunteer. This registry will help the Academy’s president-elect and committee chairs to make committee selections for 2010. To be eligible, you must be a voting fellow, member or international member.

To volunteer for committee service, visit Read each committee’s mission statement before indicating whether you are available to serve on it.


Visit the Academy Abroad

The Academy will exhibit at two upcoming ophthalmology meetings. Be sure to stop by the booth and browse the latest Academy products, learn about membership and get information on the Joint Meeting in October.

May 16–19: Asia-Pacific Association of Ophthalmology, Bali, Indonesia, Booth #P16.

June 13–16: European Society of Ophthalmology, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Booth #1002.

For more information, visit


Research Grant Deadline Approaching

Allergan will be accepting applications for its Horizon grant program through May 29. The program provides funding to medical departments to support fellows seeking careers in medicine and conducting research in the diagnosis or treatment of glaucoma and corneal and retinal diseases. Each grant will be awarded in the amount of $50,000.

For more information, visit


Did You Know?

Academy membership will pay off when it comes to the Joint Meeting in San Francisco. Active members do not have to pay a registration fee, and they receive priority registration and housing selection. Members-only registration opens June 24, when Academy members can reserve their preferred hotel and sign up for courses, labs and Breakfast with the Experts roundtables. Nonmember registration opens on July 8.

For more information, visit


Academy Store

Focal Points 2009 and 2008 Back Issues Now Available

Each Focal Points module combines the latest research findings with concise clinical discussions on the diagnosis and treatment of a specific disease or condition.

Purchase of the 2009 print version includes access to Focal Points Online, which features video clips and direct links to online references. Subscribers also have the option of receiving only the online version at a reduced price. While the print modules will be mailed in four quarterly packets, online modules are published monthly.

Upcoming modules for 2009 include Angle Closure Glaucoma Update, Management of Dislocated Intraocular Lenses and Intravitreal Injections. Back issues from 2008 are also available, including Current Trends and Challenges in Glaucoma Care, Herpetic Corneal Infections and Managing Accommodative Estropia Patients and Their Parents.

A one-year subscription for the combined 2009 print/online Focal Points package is $175 for members and $235 nonmembers. The online-only version is $145 for members and $195 for nonmembers. Individual modules and 2008 back issues are $20 for members and $40 for nonmembers.

For a free sample of a past online module, visit


New Patient Education Products

The Academy has a variety of materials to help you save time when explaining various IOL options to patients:

• The Understanding IOL Options for Cataract Surgery DVD (#050120) is $225 for members and $295 nonmembers.

Enhanced Lens Options for Cataract Surgery booklets (#052024) are available in packs of 20. Each pack is $44 for members and $55 for nonmembers.

Multifocal and Accommodative IOLs brochures (#051135) are available in packs of 100. Each pack is $32 for members and $40 for nonmembers.

Intraocular Lenses eye fact sheets (#057152) are available in packs of 25. Each pack is $9 for members and $11 for nonmembers.

To view DVD sample clips, visit PDF samples of print products are also available at


Increase Your Practice’s Efficiency

The American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives has many resources to help you keep an eye on efficiency:

Operating Policies & Procedures Manual for Medical Practices, 3rd Edition (#012183) is an easy-to-use reference complete with a CD featuring customizable medical office policies and procedures. It is $135 for members and $211 for nonmembers.

Mastering Patient Flow, 3rd Edition (#012181) helps practices structure workflow improvements and learn techniques to maximize time and space utilization. It is $102 for members and $112 for nonmembers.

The 2009 ICD-9 for Ophthalmology (#012353) helps staff quickly locate ophthalmology- specific codes that correctly reflect diagnoses. It is $60 for members and $80 for nonmembers.

• The 2009 CPT Pocket Guide for Ophthalmology (#012352) contains ophthalmology- specific codes, modifiers and descriptions. It is $39 for members and $51 for nonmembers.


Improve Your Practice’s Bottom Line

40 Ways to Raise Revenue and Cut Costs (#012161) is a 24-page booklet that offers practical tips on how to increase reimbursements, build your patient base, improve office efficiency, negotiate with payers and vendors and monitor your budget. It is $25 for members and $40 for nonmembers.

This booklet is also part of The Practice Success Kit: A Collection of Ophthalmic Executive’s Resource Guides (#012165), a set of nine modules covering important practice management issues such as information technology, human resources, risk management and business development. The collection is $240 for members and $325 for nonmembers.

Academy Store

To order products from the Academy Store, visit or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558 (toll free in the United States) or 415-561-8540.


Members At Large

Georgia Society Helps Sponsor Night of Spectacles

The Georgia Society of Ophthalmology (GSO) cosponsored last month’s Night of Spectacles. The annual eyewear fashion event is presented by the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation. All proceeds fund the Lighthouse’s vision services for the state’s uninsured and underinsured. “Over 150 GSO members have volunteered their services with the Lighthouse Foundation either by staffing its vision clinics or performing eye surgeries,” said GSO immediate past president G. Baker Hubbard III, MD.

The most unique element of this event was born through the Lighthouse’s partnership with local design schools Brenau University and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Students designed dresses made from recycled eyewear. These dresses were featured in a fashion show judged by local celebrities. Winners received scholarships, and their designs were auctioned to benefit the Lighthouse.

“Community service is certainly an important component of a well-rounded state ophthalmology society,” said Dr. Hubbard. “The GSO has a strong commitment to the community, and we were very proud to raise money to help the Lighthouse. For instance, the $53,000 raised at last year’s event went directly toward providing cataract surgeries, dilated exams, glasses and laser treatments for uninsured Georgians,” he said. “We raised our sights for 2009 and were once again successful.”



In February, The Alcon Research Institute awarded Emily Y. Chew, MD, and Frederick L. Ferris III, MD, both of the NEI, with its Ophthalmology Research Award. They will share $100,000 to continue their research.

Drs. Chew and Ferris focus on human population studies concerned with the cause, prevention and treatment of eye disease and vision disorders.


Washington Report

The Rolling Review of Ophthalmology Codes

Some high-profile, high-volume ophthalmology codes are in the crosshairs as the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) has stepped up its efforts to review codes that may be inappropriately valued. The RUC recently decided that 67028, intravitreal injection, 92135, scanning computerized ophthalmic diagnostic imaging, posterior segment (OCT) and 92285, external photography should be surveyed for consideration of their work values. The Academy will launch the surveys this spring and summer for presentation at the RUC meeting this October.

It is easy to see why Medicare has these services in its sights. In 2007, ophthalmologists billed 816,500 intravitreal injections with a national Medicare payment rate of $180 each, or $147 million total. Similarly, OCT was billed 6.4 million times at a rate of $42, or $269 million total. Through the surveys, the Academy will make a case for the physician work and practice expenses involved with these services.

These codes were also among the 114 identified by CMS as the fastest-growing services in Medicare or services that have never had a RUC work-value survey. The RUC discussed 67028, 92135, 92285 and 92136, ophthalmic biometry at its January meeting and has previously accepted the Academy’s clinical explanation for the increased utilization of 67028 and 76513, ultrasound.

The rolling review of codes is being conducted by the RUC’s Five-Year Review Identification Workgroup. The work group has reviewed more than 275 services that it found to be potentially misvalued. Its efforts are a response to pressure from the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee and Congress for the RUC to review codes that may be inappropriately valued—including overvalued—as part of the overall five-year review.

Last year, the Academy submitted work plans for the first round of services identified by the RUC and provided explanations of values and utilization to defend eight ophthalmic services. This information was instrumental in the successful defense of the cataract and complex cataract codes, which did not have to be surveyed as part of this process. Their work values will stay the same.

In addition, three codes were surveyed through this process last year, including 65285, repair of laceration; cornea and/or sclera, perforating, with reposition or resection of uveal tissue; 67225, destruction of localized lesion of choroid, photodynamic therapy, second eye, at single session; and 68810, probing of nasolacrimal duct. The surveys upheld their existing values.

Watch for the Academy’s Washington Report Express and other Academy communications for calls to participate in upcoming coding surveys.