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WHAT’S HAPPENING 

Academy Policy Body Recognized for Service

At the Annual Meeting Opening Session, the Council will receive the 2011 Distinguished Service Award.

Recognizing the group’s notable service to the Academy and ophthalmology, Academy President Richard L. Abbott, MD, said, “Over the years, the Council has developed a proven track record of being in the forefront of major issues concerning the Academy and its membership. I value the insight and commitment of the Council.”

The Council is made up of 102 members representing 52 state societies and 29 subspecialty and specialized-interest societies. The policy body’s main role is to advise the board of trustees and to encourage and facilitate open communications, cooperation and coordination between the Academy and other ophthalmologic organizations.

The Council meets twice a year to discuss and debate critical issues affecting the Academy and ophthalmology. The group also develops recommendations for the Academy’s board of trustees.

Results of successful recommendations include the publication of an Information Statement titled On-call Compensation for Ophthalmologists, as well as publication of The Profession of Ophthalmology to provide residents with greater knowledge of ethics, advocacy and practice management.

To learn more about the Council, visit www.aao.org/council.

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THE ACADEMY COUNCIL WILL BE HONORED. During the Opening Session in Orlando, Jean E. Ramsey, MD, MPH (right), and Russell N. Van Gelder, MD, PhD (left), will accept the 2011 Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the Council. They are Council chairwoman and Council vice chairman.

“I was thrilled to learn that the Council will be honored with the Distinguished Service Award at the Annual Meeting,” Dr. Ramsey said. “The Council has long played an integral role in Academy structure and policy. Many Academy members have contributed to our profession through their role as state society and subspecialty society councilors.” Dr. Van Gelder said, “The members of the Council serve as the board of trustees’ major advisory body, as well as the major liaison between the Academy and the individual state and subspecialty societies. We are grateful for this recognition of the hard and dedicated work the Council provides on behalf of the Academy.”

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Academy Offers Free Eye Screenings in Florida

The Academy has partnered with the For Eye Care Foundation of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology to bring EyeSmart EyeCheck to the state in November.

The national EyeSmart EyeCheck initiative, launched in May 2010, was created to combat undetected eye disease and visual impairment among at-risk populations in the United States.  

Working with state societies, hospitals and eye institutes, local Eye M.D.s and community organizations, the Academy’s EyeSmart EyeCheck serves to do the following:

  • introduce a new screening methodology for adults, focusing on detecting visual problems from any eye condition rather than screening for a specific eye disease;
     
  • facilitate free screenings to help identify undiagnosed visual impairment among populations at greatest risk and with limited access to health care; and
     
  • provide referrals to eye care providers and eye health information to patients both at the screenings and later online.

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TAKE NOTICE 

CLINICAL INFO ACCESSIBLE TO PRACTICES WORLDWIDE. The Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE) Network provides a wealth of clinical information that is relevant to ophthalmic practices around the world. Resources include practice guidelines, news, videos and more. Content can be quickly searched and sorted by subspecialty. Summary Benchmarks from selected Preferred Practice Patterns are available in Arabic, French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Find all of these resources by visiting www.aao.org/one and choosing “Global ONE.”

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ACADEMY STORE 

Enhance the Performance of Your ASC With New Online Modules

Many ophthalmologists have ownership interests in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). To help ASCs perform with greatest efficiency, the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE) has developed—in cooperation with the Ophthalmic Outpatient Surgery Society—the Successful Ophthalmic ASC collection. Titles include: Administration, Operations and Procedures for the Ophthalmic ASC (#012404V); Complete Guide to Coding (#012405V); Designing and Building the Ophthalmic ASC (#012401V); Financial Reporting and Management (#012400V); and Managing ASC Quality and Performance (#012402V).

Each title is $45 for members and $60 for nonmembers.

For more information, visit www.aao.org/store and search by product number.

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Get Firsthand Demonstrations of Ophthalmic Surgeries

The following DVDs offer instructional demonstrations of a wide array of ophthalmic clinical skills. Preview and purchase all of the Academy’s DVDs at the Academy Resource Center (Booth 1359) in Orlando.

  • Plastic Surgery of the Eyelids (#0252428)—This revised DVD demonstrates surgical management for the upper and lower eyelids. Topics include blepharoplasty and repair of ectropion and entropion. The techniques are aimed at the comprehensive ophthalmologist and focus on essential, effective approaches for achieving both therapeutic and cosmetic results.
     
  • Repair of the Open Globe (#0252425) —This new DVD covers surgical repair from presentation to postoperative care, and it offers a comprehensive look at how to evaluate patients with a suspected globe rupture, induce anesthesia, explore the globe, identify tears, ensure a watertight seal and attend to intraoperative concerns.
     
  • Complications During Cataract Surgery: Thermal Injury, Dropped Nucleus, Iris Prolapse and Choroidal Hemorrhage (#0252429)—This latest volume from Robert H. Osher, MD, walks the viewer through several intraoperative problems, pinpointing surgical miscues and demonstrating rescue strategies.
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Each DVD costs $140 for members and $190 for nonmembers.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to More Than 80 Ophthalmic Procedures

The new third edition of the Ophthalmic Procedures in the Office and Clinic (#0240637) text is published by the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses and available through the Academy. It documents a wide range of procedures that the nurse or technician performs in an ophthalmic office or clinical setting. Each topic includes a list of objectives, a list of equipment and instructions for performing the procedure.

It costs $59 for both members and nonmembers.

TO ORDER PRODUCTS FROM THE ACADEMY STORE, visit www.aao.org/store or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8540.

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MEMBERS AT LARGE 

People

Troy R. Elander, MD, was chosen as the 140th president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA) this past June. Dr. Elander is the third ophthalmologist to serve as LACMA president in recent history, following Howard R. Krauss, MD, and David H. Aizuss, MD. His practice focus is cataract and refractive surgery.

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CANDIDATES’ VIEWS 

Meet the Board of Trustees’ Nominees for the 2011 Election

In June, the Academy’s Board of Trustees nominated an official slate of officers for its 2012 Board of Trustees. The following have given their consent to serve if elected and therefore constitute the official slate. If the Academy’s membership approves all candidates, their respective terms begin Jan. 1, 2012. Academy members will be given the opportunity to vote online or by paper ballot for officers and trustee-at-large positions of the Board of Trustees.

EyeNet is pleased to present the personal statement provided by each of the candidates.

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Paul Sternberg Jr., MD
Board of Trustees’ Nominee for President-Elect

It is an extraordinary privilege to be nominated for the position of President- Elect of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Growing up as the son of an ophthalmologist, I learned about the joy of our profession from an early age and set my sights on entering this field as far back as I can remember. I have always considered membership in and active volunteering for the Academy to be an essential component of my life and have treasured the many ways in which I have had the honor of serving. Over my career, I have participated in multiple committees, including Clinical Education, Annual Meeting and Advocacy. From 2000 to 2005, I was a member of the Committee of Secretaries as Secretary of Communication and was elected a Trustee-at-Large from 2006 to 2009. More than a decade ago, Dr. Michael Brennan and I established the Academy’s Leadership Development Program, which has been transformational in identifying and training future Academy leaders. Through these experiences, I have worked closely with colleagues and friends across the profession, allowing me to appreciate the capability of our Academy leadership and staff, while also learning about the broad challenges facing medicine and, specifically, ophthalmology.

In the coming years, two major challenges to ophthalmology will be the prospect of reduced reimbursement for our services and the desire of non-ophthalmologists to expand their scope of practice. All of medicine must address the unsustainable steady increases in the cost of health care. This will require a combination of creativity, practicality and strong leadership. In my roles as Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Vanderbilt and Chief Medical Officer for the Vanderbilt Medical Group, I confront these issues on a daily basis. I look forward to leveraging this experience to support our Academy and our profession, as we continue to lead the school of medicine in providing the high value of outstanding, quality of life-transforming care in exchange for appropriate levels of reimbursement. However, we also must protect our patients by being active advocates for appropriate and realistic scope of practice laws. None of us can sit on the sidelines as our state legislatures are besieged by unreasonable legislative bills that will compromise care and undermine the future of our trainees and younger Academy members.

As ophthalmologists, patients entrust us with their sight. With this trust comes great responsibility. As our professional organization, the American Academy of Ophthalmology must safeguard that trust. If elected, I pledge to honor and support our commitment to provide ethical and high-quality eye care, and to be a vocal and stalwart advocate for all ophthalmologists and their patients.

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Cynthia A. Bradford, MD
Board of Trustees’ Nominee for Senior Secretary for Advocacy

We are living in a time of the greatest changes in medical practice since the mid-20th century, when Congress created Medicare. Ophthalmology, as a subspecialty surgical profession with a primary patient base of Medicare recipients, has a huge stake in the pathway of health care reform. The ballooning federal deficit is focusing decision makers on how to cut federal support of health care. Health policy advisors are encouraging improvement in quality of care as a mechanism for more judicious use of our financial resources. Without advocacy for our profession and patients, our strong foundation of education and research cannot survive.

To expand our advocacy on a federal level, we have combined the OphthPAC Committee with the Congressional Advocacy Committee. This new committee is simply called the OphthPAC Committee. The members of this committee not only raise money to elect to Congress those individuals who support ophthalmology’s goals but also have developed a network of advocate ophthalmologists throughout our country who are matched with over 85 percent of Congress. Many of these relationships are of the very highest levels.

On the state level, slowly over the decades optometry has expanded its scope of practice, using the phrase, “this is all we want,” forgetting to add the disclaimer, “for now.” Ophthalmologists must realize optometry is not going to stop, unless we act together to stop the progression. As a young ophthalmologist in Oklahoma, I was witness to one of the early laser shots by optometry: a patient who came to me for a second opinion on a laser peripheral iridotomy performed by an optometrist. Her problem? An epiretinal membrane. The year? 1988. Until that time, I thought state government protected patients, but I learned that we must all be active in the political process to protect patients and our profession. When I was the state ophthalmology society president after the 1998 optometric laser bill and subsequent “scalpel law,” the political process was painfully obvious. Serving on the State Affairs Secretariat, I learned more about state politics. This year in Kentucky another “Oklahoma” law was passed. This bill was not passed with open discussion but through strong-arm politics. Every other state challenge has been defeated when intelligent discussion occurred. We need the support of every ophthalmologist to continue to be successful. I have had the privilege to meet hundreds of ophthalmologists who actively represent our profession. On a federal level we have equally talented ophthalmologists who are known both inside and outside our profession as experts in the complex system of Medicare. Without this expertise, ophthalmology’s reimbursement levels would be lower. Our Washington, D.C., lobby team is extraordinary and is recognized as one of the best.

I look forward to leading our state and national advocacy teams in promoting our profession as the leader of the eye care team. As ophthalmologists, we should be paid reasonably for our work. Others without equal training should not be able to legislate the right to masquerade as our profession.

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Linda M. Tsai, MD
Board of Trustees’ Nominee for Trustee-at-Large

I am honored to be nominated by the Academy to serve as a Trustee-at-Large of the Academy Board of Trustees. After graduating from Northwestern University Medical School, I completed my ophthalmology residency at Washington University in St. Louis. I was initially drawn to academic medicine after spending an extra year during medical school at the National Eye Institute as a Howard Hughes Research Scholar. At the conclusion of my clinical training, I chose a career as a comprehensive ophthalmologist with a particular focus on cataract surgery. In 2002, after spending three years in private practice, I decided to return to Washington University as a full-time faculty member with a practice in comprehensive ophthalmology. I hope these varied experiences will help provide unique perspectives that represent the multiple interests and concerns of the Academy membership.

I have been involved in the Academy in the Clinical Education section in multiple ways. I chaired the Comprehensive Ophthalmology section of the Self-Assessment Committee during the initial development of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) study aids, led one of the revisions for ProVision, and currently serve as the Chair of the Item Review Group. As a member who has recently undergone the process of Board recertification, I understand the importance of resources that the Academy provides for the MOC process. I have also served as an instructor at Academy phacoemulsification courses and am honored to receive the Academy’s Achievement Award this year.

In 2010, I served as President of the Missouri Ophthalmological Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons; through our own state legislative battles, I have experienced firsthand the commitment of the Academy’s Secretariat for State Affairs. I have also had the opportunity to participate in the Academy’s Leadership Development Program. I have lobbied for the last eight years on Capitol Hill at Congressional Advocacy Day and realize the importance of working effectively within organized medicine. The unified voice of the Academy is essential for ophthalmology as a profession, allowing us to provide the best quality care for our patients.

My other professional activities include involvement in the American Eye Study Club, examining for the American Board of Ophthalmology, and serving as Secretary of the Chinese American Ophthalmological Society. I have recently become involved with the Asian-Pacific Leadership Development Program and was a speaker at their Mid-Year Forum this past year. Currently the Academy has over 7,000 international members, and its role as an international leader continues to grow and evolve. Through close exchange and interaction, the Academy has the opportunity to assist other international ophthalmic organizations in improving the care of patients around the world.

Based on my interactions with the Academy leadership group, I have enjoyed meeting an incredible group of dedicated physicians who have given so much to the profession. I would be honored to serve as a Trustee-at-Large of the Academy Board of Trustees and am committed to working hard and contributing to our profession’s continued growth and success.

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Charles M. Zacks, MD
Board of Trustees’ Nominee for Trustee-at-Large

I am honored to be nominated to serve as a Trustee-at-Large on the Academy’s Board of Trustees. If elected, I will look forward to representing the membership on the broad range of issues of importance to current practice and the future of ophthalmology.

My interest in the Academy began during my residency at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. My mentors there led by example and consistently emphasized the importance of the Academy’s efforts to my ophthalmic education and career.

The focus of my service to the Academy to date has been the Ethics Committee, first as a member, then as Vice Chair and Chair. During my tenure on the committee, I developed and expanded the ethics education program, responded to requests to analyze contemporary ethical dilemmas facing the Academy, and reached out to our international colleagues to assist in developing ethics programs in their specialty societies. In my 16 years on this committee, I also had the opportunity to improve my understanding of issues relevant to service on the Board of Trustees, including the interface between ethics and law, governance of nonprofit organizations, and the national and international roles of medical specialty societies. In particular, through my experience in numerous ethics investigations, I am better qualified to analyze and manage differences of opinion and respect views that may differ from my own.

In addition to the Ethics Committee, I have also participated in the Academy’s advocacy efforts, both as Councilor from Maine and as a past President of the Maine Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. In my local professional community, I have demonstrated leadership in the New England Ophthalmological Society (NEOS), beginning as Chair of the Program Committee, followed by service on the governing Board, and as President in 2009. I continue to serve on the NEOS Board and currently lead a comprehensive effort to revise the bylaws of the society.

I am currently a partner at the Maine Eye Center, in Portland, Maine, with a subspecialty practice in cornea and external disease. Although ours is a large private practice group, I also enjoy opportunities for clinical teaching, both in our own office, and at the New England Eye Center in Boston as a Clinical Instructor.

I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve on the Academy’s Board of Trustees. I will be a responsible and active participant in forwarding the goals of the Academy, and an approachable, effective representative of the membership of our remarkable organization.

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Russell N. Van Gelder, MD, PhD
Board of Trustees’ Nominee for Chair of the Council

I am honored to stand for election for Chair of the Academy Council.

The Academy is a remarkable organization. No other medical specialty organization offers as much value to its members, from the outstanding Annual Meeting, to untiring advocacy for members, to continual production of an array of high-quality educational materials. As ophthalmologists, I think we are all proud of our ability to help most of our patients see the world better; and our Academy reflects this mission and supports it fully.

Part of the way the Academy manages to do so many things well is its streamlined governance. A small, 20-person Board of Trustees works closely with the outstanding Academy staff to make sound decisions expeditiously and implement them with outstanding execution.

However, 20 board members (of whom 17 are ophthalmologists and three are public members) cannot possibly represent all the interests of over 20,000 Eye M.D.s. The Council of the Academy serves an essential function in focusing the deliberations of the Board of Trustees on those issues of greatest importance to the broader membership. It serves as a floor for debate for critical issues in our profession, as well as a forum for dissemination of new information in all aspects of our specialty.

I have been fortunate to serve the Academy in a variety of capacities in the past 16 years, including serving on the Maintenance of Certification Committee, serving on the BCSC Committee for the uveitis subsection, and serving on the Academy’s Nominating Committee. I finished the Leadership Development Program in 2004. The bulk of my Academy service has been in the Council, where I served a term as Councilor for the American Uveitis Society before becoming Vice Chair of the Council two years ago.

As Chair of the Council, my chief priority will be to ensure that the voices of the member societies are clearly heard by Academy governance; that the Council remains a vibrant body for debate on those issues most germane to ophthalmologists; and that the Council continues to grow as a community essential to the health of the Academy.

I bring to this position a variety of perspectives as an ophthalmologist. I have practiced in academic as well as private office settings. I have a busy referral uveitis practice in Seattle. I currently direct the University of Washington Medicine Eye Institute, a 27-member multispecialty group, and am intimately familiar with the practice management issues that affect the broad Academy membership. I have served as residency director at Washington University in St. Louis, and have served four years as chairman at University of Washington, and have a strong commitment to ophthalmic education. I have served as president of my subspecialty organization, the American Uveitis Society, and serve on the Board of my state society, the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.

It will be an honor to bring this experience to service of the Academy as Chair of the Council.

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Ann A. Warn, MD, MBA
Board of Trustees’ Nominee for Vice Chair of the Council

I would like to express sincere gratitude to my fellow Council members. I was flattered just to be on the ballot and feel deeply honored to have been elected as the nominee for Vice Chair of the Council. During my time on the Council, changes in the medical environment have been rapid and numerous. There is uncertainty from all sides. Whether it is the SGR, increasing regulations, threats of falling reimbursement, or scope of practice, it seems that our profession is being bombarded.

It is through the Council that the views of our colleagues, and the concerns of our patients, can be expressed and debated. Open communication and sharing of experience is the hallmark of this group. I greatly respect the Council and look forward to a new role as one of the liaisons to the Board of Trustees.

I have been a comprehensive ophthalmologist with the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute, in Oklahoma, for over 17 years. During this time, I have had the opportunity to serve my community and my state, as well as our profession. Locally, I have served on boards for several organizations, including a university foundation board. In addition, I spent nine years on the Oklahoma State Board of Health, overseeing the public health system of Oklahoma. Professionally, I have been involved with the Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology since the beginning of my career. I served in various state society offices, including Councilor and two years as President. I have also been privileged to serve in various capacities with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, including the Council, the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives Board of Directors, the OphthPAC Committee and the OMIC Board of Directors. I feel confident that this array of experience will be beneficial as Vice Chair of the Council.

Oklahoma has always been a testing ground for scope expansion and controversy. From the early days of residency, it has always been apparent to me that a strong profession and voice was the best way to serve our colleagues and our patients. The Council is this voice, and I would be honored to serve as its Vice Chair.

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D.C. REPORT 

Academy Pushes for Patient Eye Safety

It has been two years since physicians at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center (VAMC) discovered errors by optometrists in the treatment of veterans with glaucoma. At that facility, seven veterans progressed to preventable blindness, 16 experienced progressive visual loss and 87 others were determined to be at high risk of losing their sight as a result of treatment by optometrists that violated the existing policy.

Since that time, the Academy has been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Congress to put in place safeguards to ensure that the problems uncovered at the VAMC do not occur at other VA medical facilities. In March 2011, the VA issued an updated Eye Care Handbook to facilitate the provision of optimal eye care in the veterans’ health care system. Although patient-referral specifications are included in a new appendix, confusion remains over how clinical review will be used to ensure appropriate referrals by optometrists. The Academy does not believe that the handbook’s revisions are sufficient to ensure that veterans receive properly coordinated treatment for eye conditions.

Last spring, Academy Executive Vice President and CEO David W. Parke II, MD, Academy staff members and Rajiv Jain, MD, who oversees the ophthalmology and optometry services within the VA, met to discuss the visual impairment language. Also participating in the meeting were Margaret Hammond, MD, the acting chief of patient services, and James C. Orcutt, MD, PhD, who was the VA national program director for ophthalmology at the time.

The discussion focused on Academy concerns with language in the handbook and its implications for patient care and safety in the VA. Areas of particular concern were language relating to joint ophthalmology/optometry collaboration of care review and language requiring ophthalmologists to refer glaucoma patients back to optometrists when treatment is deemed complete.

Dr. Jain clarified that the intent of the medical-surgical collaboration review is to focus on cases where the care is provided predominantly by optometry. He stated that the review is not limited to the referral process but covers the care provided to the patient. He also said that ophthalmologists are not required to refer glaucoma patients back to optometry if they do not feel that it is in the best interest of the patient.

Moreover, Dr. Jain said that he would commit to issuing clarifications within the VA regarding the intent of the collaboration review language and the glaucoma referral language. The Academy intends to monitor this situation closely to make sure that the VA follows through with its commitment.

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