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‘Surgical Saturday’ courses build your practice’s office-based laser skills

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As practice-based laser procedures expand the ophthalmic medical arsenal that optometry provides in an increasing number of states, Optometry’s Meeting® provides an opportunity for team learning to stay on the cutting edge of care.

“Surgical Saturday”, a block of 13 courses offered on Saturday, June 18th during the Optometry’s Meeting, will provide Actionable Continuing Education (CE) in pathology, diagnosis, treatment protocols, billing and coding, suturing, injections and of course laser procedures, all in one place. Because CE is available to both optometry and paraoptometry physicians, the “Surgical Saturdays” courses provide nursing teams not only with relevant training but also perspective as states consider scope expansions now and in the future.

Nationwide, advocates of optometry are determined to increase community access to the comprehensive, primary eye health and vision care services that optometry physicians are trained and able to provide. In March 2022, Virginia became the ninth state—and third since 2021—to add outpatient laser procedures, including YAG laser capsulotomy, selective laser trabeculoplasty, and peripheral laser iridotomy, to its optometric scope.

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“Scope expansion is certainly a strong movement right now,” says Nate Lighthizer, OD, associate dean and associate professor at Northeastern State University’s Oklahoma College of Optometry and lecturer on laser courses at Optometry’s Meeting in Chicago.

dr Adds Lighthizer, “Twelve, thirteen years ago there was one state that allowed optometrists to perform laser procedures – Oklahoma – and now there are nine different states that allow optometrists to perform laser procedures and more and more are working to expand the scope. These are office procedures – you don’t have to go into an operating room for them – and optometrists are successfully performing them across the country.”

In a Q&A, the AOA asked four doctors — Alissa Coyne, OD, Lindsay Sicks, OD, Cecelia Koetting, OD, and Dr. Lighthizer – who spoke at Optometry’s Meeting on Laser Processes, on the content of their courses that could benefit from CE and why now is the time to seek this training.

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dr Lighthizer, along with ophthalmologist Leo Skorin, DO, OD, and Paul Barney, OD, are offering several courses on laser procedures at Optometry’s Meeting, including a “Laser Learning Lab” workshop for optometry physicians to gain hands-on experience can these instruments. Tell us a little bit about the content you want to cover.

“We plan to cover a variety of different laser procedures, from YAG laser capsulotomy to peripheral YAG laser iridotomy to selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and even YAG laser vitreolysis, so a variety of laser procedures, performed by optometrists and ophthalmologists. One of our lectures is “Laser Procedures from OD to DO Perspective”, so I and the ophthalmologist Dr. Leo Skorin treat all these lasers in a variety of ways, from preoperative management to postoperative management, possible complications, procedural techniques, how to perform the procedures, we will go through videos and answer questions for the participants there. We will cover a variety of topics through this content.

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“In the “Laser Learning Lab” we will have lasers there and at the beginning of this lab we will show a tutorial, then the participants will practically try YAG and SLT lasers with model eyes for SLT, YAG capsulotomy and peripheral iridotomy They will real laser procedures on model eyes execute.”

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dr Lighthizer, with the many advances in optometric optics over the past few years, who do you see benefiting from these laser processing courses at Optometry’s Meeting?

“I encourage physicians and paraoptometric staff to take these courses. I think it’s eye opening to see, “oh, these procedures aren’t as complex as you might think,” and you are well qualified to perform these laser procedures we’re talking about. All doctors would benefit from attending these laser courses just to have the perspective and see what is going on in these conditions how the procedures are performed. And even if you don’t intend to perform the procedures, you can see the preoperative considerations and postoperative management that will only make anyone a better doctor. For all physicians – whether you intend to perform the procedures or not perform the procedures and just co-administer them – there will be something for everyone in these laser lectures.”

dr Coyne and Sicks, you will co-lecture several laser procedure courses at the Optometry’s Meeting, including YAG Laser Procedures, Ophthalmic Lasers in Optometry, and Chairside Skills for Laser Procedures, with the latter two available as joint Physician/Paraoptometer courses are . Why is it worth doing these courses in an integrated environment?

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“In order to be able to provide our patients with better care, it is important for optometrists and staff to have background knowledge of these laser procedures. With a collaborative approach, this course can help outline each individual’s responsibilities throughout the procedure and ensure seamless care.”

dr Coyne and Sicks, we’re asking you the same question Dr. Lighthizer – why is now such a good time to learn more about ophthalmic lasers in optometry?

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“With the increasing number of states with surgical authority and the move toward expanding scope, we find ourselves in an evolving landscape for optometric care. This is the time to educate what our patients will experience, whether we are the ones performing the procedures or whether we are referring them.”

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dr Coyne adds, “As a result, our courses will cover the most common anterior segment laser procedures. In addition, we will cover the expected response of eye tissue, laser settings, expected results and practical knowledge for the management and follow-up of eye laser procedures.”

dr Koetting, your course “Eye Surgery and the Role of Paraoptometry” from 13:00 to 14:00 Saturday 18 June is a paraoptometry specific course available for CPC credit. Tell us a little bit about what you want to cover.

“In this course we will discuss the growing scope of optometry and some of the more common procedures currently being performed in the practice. These include procedures such as chalazion incision and removal, nodule and lump biopsy, IPL, Meibomian gland treatments, blepharon peel, etc. We will discuss what these procedures are, what they are for, how they are performed and how our paraoptometric staff works can help in these areas.”

dr Koetting, we’re asking you the same question as Dr. Coyne and Sicks – why should paraoptometry professionals consider attending your course, or why should physicians encourage their staff to attend?

“This course is great for both paraoptometry and doctors. For our paraoptometry, you will learn more about what is currently or will soon be performed in your practice by your doctors. As for the doctors, there will be a good discussion on how their staff can help implement these procedures in their clinic.”

Would you like to know more about the Optometry Meeting? Access the 2022 Conference Preview for full event descriptions, agendas and more, or watch the social talks on #OM2022 and see what all the fuss is about.

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