American Medical Association sides against optometrists in Florida Eyeball Wars


The nation’s largest association of physicians is the latest group to come out against a bill at the center of Florida’s so-called “Eyeball Wars” between ophthalmologists and optometrists.

On Thursday, American Medical Association President and CEO James Madara sent a letter to House Health & Human Services Committee chair Travis Cummings, in which he called on lawmakers to reject HB 1037, a measure that seeks give optometrists expanded practice to perform a certain type of laser surgeries in Florida.

The two-page letter expresses several concerns with the bill, including the relative lack of education and experience of optometrists compared to ophthalmologists — who “possess the comprehensive medical knowledge necessary to safely perform surgical procedures on patients.”

“Patient safety and quality of care demand that patients be assured that individuals who perform invasive procedures have appropriate medical education and training,” Madara wrote. ” Quite simply, safe use of lasers and scalpels requires extensive medical education and training. Surgery on or around the human eye is not something to be taken lightly.

“The AMA strongly opposes HB 1037 because there is no way to safely perform surgical procedures without the comprehensive education and clinical training received in medical or osteopathic school,” Madara added. “The lack of specific additional education and training proposed by HB 1037 comes nowhere near this standard.”

In a procedural move, House Speaker Richard Corcoran removed HB 1037 from the schedule of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. In response, Florida Society of Ophthalmology President Adam Katz said the move — which he suggested was “orchestrated” — gave his organization one less opportunity to stop the measure from becoming law.

Supporting HB 1037 include the Florida Optometric Association, which has hired a team of a dozen lobbyists to promote the bill, including Michael Corcoran, brother of the House Speaker.

POLITICO Florida reports that March 20, the FOA hired influential Capital City Consulting lobbyist Nick Iarossi.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Susan L McCullough

    March 24, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I had intraocular lenses placed in both eyes several years ago, and am glad I had an ophthalmologist who has been performing surgeries for years perform the surgery. The team of nurses who assisted before and after were professional RNs. The surgical theatre was sanitary and safety standards were observed.

    I am in favor of maintaining the regulations/scope of practice as they are.

  • Frank Mirabella

    March 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    The AMA doesn’t think much of the dental surgeons ( Oral Maxifacial) either. It’s like nobody counts but them..

Comments are closed.


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