Richard E. Weisbarth,OD, FAAO, Optometry Academy Chair
Sandra Block, Optometry Academy Vice-Chair
The Role of Optometry in Interdisciplinary Health Care
Doctors of Optometry (O.D.s/Optometrists) are primary health care professionals. As licensed, independent health care professionals, Doctors of Optometry play a primary and integral role in inter-disciplinary health care by examining, diagnosing, treating, and managing diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. Doctors of Optometry are involved in the coordination of care of associated systemic diseases and zoonotic diseases and serve a sentinel role in the identification of ocular side effects of systemic medications. Doctors of Optometry are defined as physicians under Medicare, and are an essential part of the national health care delivery system providing direct patient access to health care in nearly 6,500 communities across the country. In 3,500 of these communities, Doctors of Optometry are the only providers of vision and eye health care services.
Doctors of Optometry:
- Practice in many different healthcare settings that include private and group practice, within hospitals, Accountable Care Organizations, Federally Qualified Health Centers, School Based Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, Certified Nursing Facilities, Rehabilitation Facilities, U.S. Armed Forces, Veterans Health Administration, Indian Health Service, Civil Service, and other settings
- Assist with improving overall population health and quality of life through prevention and early diagnosis of vision and eye health problems and prevention of chronic disease
- Detect systemic diseases through identification of associated eye findings during a comprehensive face-to-face eye examination. There are over 275 systemic conditions with ocular involvement
- Participate in Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and other quality initiatives to improve patient outcomes and wellness by enhanced disease prevention and patient education for behaviors that have been linked to systemic diseases with known vision and eye findings including but, not limited to hypertension, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and UV exposure.
- Are essential to the implementation of the comprehensive pediatric vision care benefit mandated by the Affordable Care Act and attending regulations
- Coordinate the vision, eye health, and wellness of their patients with fellow Optometrists and other health care providers
- Offer services to assist individuals with functional vision problems, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment and blindness. Treatments may include vision therapy or tools to address functional vision problems or vision rehabilitation for those with vision impairment with the goal to optimize vision and maintain independence and quality of life
- Provide a continuum of patient-centered care for people of all ages focused on prevention, health maintenance, acute care, chronic care, habilitation, and/or rehabilitation, with special emphasis on minimizing life-long impacts and the burden of visual impairment on at-risk populations that include aging adults and the very old, as well as infants and children.