The MSO's Sept. 28 Executive Board meeting was held at MCPHS University Worcester. Check out some photos from the meeting below. Many thanks to the warm hospitality of MCPHS University Worcester for hosting our meeting!
From the American Optometric Association:
New patient safety requirements and increased accountability for the internet contact lens sales industry are key elements of bipartisan, bicameral bills to curb abuses of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA).
Introduced by Reps. Pete Olson (R - TX) and Kathy Castor (D - FL) on Sept. 22, H.R. 6157 seeks to modernize the prescription verification process for contact lenses and clarify consumer protections regarding their false advertising. This bill complements S. 2777, the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act of 2016, introduced April 11 by Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., (R - LA)—legislation that originally earned AOA's support to crack down on an array of internet sellers' schemes that deceive the public, risk patient health and add to health care costs.
"This bill will give contact lens wearers peace of mind, protecting them from dishonest online sellers whose unscrupulous tactics can cause patient harm and increase health care costs," says Andrea P. Thau, O.D., AOA president. "The AOA commends Reps. Olson and Castor for their bipartisan leadership in making patient safety a top priority."
The AOA-backed H.R. 6157 and S. 2777 focus on strengthening the patient health safeguards of the FCLCA that have been undermined, and in certain cases even ignored, by unscrupulous internet contact lens sellers.
These bills offer commonsense, pro-patient approaches based on the importance of contact lenses as medical devices, including:
Congresswoman Castor adds: "This bill puts patients first and keeps intact the patient-doctor relationship, which is a critical component of our health care system. Rep. Olson and I are proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which puts measures in place that ensure doctors can verify important information to further safeguard patients' eye health."
Following introduction of S. 2777 earlier this year, AOA Immediate Past President Steven A. Loomis, O.D., said AOA was proud to support the bill and promised that AOA will continue working to make patient safety the priority it needs to be on Capitol Hill. In a news release, Sen. Cassidy said: "As a physician, I value patient safety, and our eye health professionals need the ability to act as good stewards of patient health, as the original FCLCA intended."
"Safeguards like those in the FCLCA should be strengthened to preserve access to accurate information and the contact lenses patients need," Sen. Cassidy continues. "The Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act of 2016 will provide patients with these stronger safeguards, and will modernize the way our contact lens marketplace is able to work. I appreciate the commitment of the Optometric Association of Louisiana, the American Optometric Association, and the broader coalition to protecting patients' eye health; I look forward to working together to ensure the FTC takes into account public health as it reviews the FCLCA."
Legislation such as H.R. 6157 and S. 2777 help establish effective measures that make goals outlined in a newly released National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report that much more obtainable in improving vision health in America.
Efforts to reign back online sellers' unscrupulous tactics
Despite the fact that contact lenses are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated medical devices that require a valid prescription from a patient's doctor, some internet-based sellers employ tactics that sidestep federal law designed to keep contact lens wearers safe, and AOA continues to call attention to such violations.
Complaints from doctors of optometry, other eye care professionals and consumers have raised concern that some internet sellers do not properly verify prescriptions, overfill orders, fill expired prescriptions or fill orders with lenses other than those that were prescribed, placing patients needlessly at risk.
A 2015 consumer survey found that among contact lens patients who ordered their lenses online:
"The Federal Trade Commission just filed suit against one of the larger online contact lens vendors saying basically that they colluded with others to raise the price for consumers," Sen. Cassidy noted in a recent interview.
"The eye doctors have pointed out that they're supposed to verify the eye prescription, but some of the firms are just shipping it out. So we're trying to preserve the ease and access of online, but make sure there isn't this collusion that is illegally raising prices for consumers and also making sure they get their eye health taken (care of)."
This past year, AOA also has alerted federal officials of questionable business practices of online contact lens sellers, such as 1-800 Contacts' pre-checked authorization box used to "deceptively" assert the right to act as the patient's agent and failing to effectively communicate the need for physician oversight when using contact lenses.
Additionally, AOA submitted detailed formal comments on the FTC Contact Lens Rule—now under a once-per-decade review—in October 2015. In doing so, AOA is backing reforms to make patient health and safety the highest priority, including by fixing the broken passive verification system, stopping contact lens sellers' misleading marketing ploys and ensuring sellers make available a live-contact person for doctors to discuss prescription issues.
The AOA and MSO will continue to advocate for patient contact lens safety.
Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is one of the best things you can do to keep your eyes healthy. In this painless procedure, an eye care professional examines your eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs.
Different from the basic eye exam you have for glasses or contact lenses, a comprehensive dilated eye exam can help protect your sight by making sure you are seeing your best and detecting eye diseases in their early stages, before vision loss has occurred.
A comprehensive dilated eye exam includes the following:
Dilation—Drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina to look for signs of damage and other eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration. A dilated eye exam also allows your eye care professional to check for damage to the optic nerve that occurs when a person has glaucoma. After the examination, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
Tonometry—This test helps to detect glaucoma by measuring eye pressure. Your eye care professional may direct a quick puff of air onto the eye, or gently apply a pressure-sensitive tip near or against the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test. Elevated pressure is a possible sign of glaucoma.
Visual field test—This test measures your side (peripheral) vision. It helps your eye care professional find out if you have lost side vision, a sign of glaucoma.
Visual acuity test—This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
To learn more about comprehensive dilated eye exams and eye health, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes.
To find a doctor of optometry near you and schedule your comprehensive dilated eye exam today, visit http://www.maoptometry.org/find-a-doctor.html
MSO President Dr. Matthew Forgues (right), and Executive Director Jay Gardiner (left) met with Congressman Joe Kennedy III this weekend.
The meeting focused on discussing the MSO's legislative efforts and how to improve patient care in the Commonwealth.
The MSO thanks Congressman Kennedy for taking the time to meet with our leadership. We hope to work together with Congressman Kennedy to make eye care a priority in Massachusetts.
MSO Member Appreciation Night
Thursday, Oct 13, 2016
All MSO members are welcome to attend.
Appetizers will be provided, and the first drink is on us!
Framingham Beer Works
345 Cochituate Rd, Framingham, MA 01701
RSVP to Kalyn@maoptometry.org / 508-875-7900
While vision loss is not a normal part of aging, older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision. Eye diseases often have no early symptoms, but can be detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
More than 40 million Americans are currently age 65 or older, and this number is expected to grow to more than 88 million by 2050. By that same year, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, and the number of people living with low vision is projected to triple. Early detection and treatment are key to saving sight.
Here are some things you can do to help keep your vision healthy
HAVE A COMPREHENSIVE DILATED EYE EXAM.
You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. During this exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of your eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional can also let you know if your vision can benefit from glasses or contact lenses.
Find a doctor of optometry near you in Massachusetts and schedule your comprehensive dilated eye exam today.
KNOW YOUR RISK FACTORS. As you get older, you are at higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions such as AMD, cataract, diabetic eye disease, dry eye, and glaucoma. Having a family history of eye disease also puts you at higher risk. And being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can lead to vision loss. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.
EAT RIGHT TO PROTECT YOUR SIGHT. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown that there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut. A healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help protect your vision.
WEAR YOUR SHADES AND A BRIMMED HAT. Sunglasses and a brimmed hat are great fashion accessories, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Prolonged sun exposure is associated with developing AMD and cataract.
DON’T SMOKE. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing AMD, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to vision loss and blindness.
USE PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR. Wear protective eyewear such as goggles, safety glasses, face shields, and eye guards when playing sports or doing activities around the home and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.
The State Board of Optometry will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to optometry regulations (246 CMR) on Wednesday, September 21, at 10:00am, at the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL), 1000 Washington St, Boston, MA, 02118.
View the formal announcement here.
The MSO team worked extensively on proposed changes to optometry regulations. These proposed changes were then reviewed by the full State Board over several official board meetings. Many of the MSO's recommended changes were incorporated into DPL's proposed amendments.
DPL's proposed regulation changes cover a number of aspects, including:
You can view the complete set of DPL's proposed regulation changes here:
Proposed amendments to 246 CMR 1.00
Proposed amendments to 246 CMR 2.00
Proposed amendments to 246 CMR 3.00
Interested parties may attend the Sept. 21 Public Hearing and offer oral and/or written comments to the Division of Professional Licensure.
The MSO team, including President Dr. Matthew Forgues, Immediate Past President Dr. Brian Wadman, Executive Director Jay Gardiner, and MSO staff Richie Lawless and Kalyn Burke, attended MCPHS University's inaugural State Night event for the new class of 2020.
The event was hosted by MCPHS and the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA). Students learned about the importance of getting involved with their student association, as well as the AOA and state associations following graduation. A major emphasis was placed on all of the optometric scope milestones the AOA and state associations have achieved over the years, and how far optometry has come thanks to the work of these groups.
MSO President Dr. Matthew Forgues, and Immediate Past President Dr. Brian Wadman also talked with students about life after optometry school, and the issues practicing doctors of optometry face day-to-day. A trivia competition with prizes followed to cap off the night.
Many thanks to MCPHS, the AOSA, and the MCPHS's MSO Club for making this event possible. We were thrilled to be a part of it and to welcome the class of 2020 to Massachusetts!
Check out more photos in our gallery below.
Pictured: Representatives of the New England College of Optometry's MSO Club
MSO Executive Director Jay Gardiner, along with MSO Staff Richie Lawless & Kalyn Burke met with the New England College of Optometry's MSO Club this week.
The meeting was to introduce the MSO team to new student members of the MSO Club, and to begin planning a full calendar of social and informational events for students for the upcoming academic year. The MSO hopes to be an important resource for optometry students throughout their 4-year academic journey, providing networking opportunities with their student colleagues and practicing optometrists.
Thank you to NECO staff and student advisor Dr. Beth Harper for organizing the meeting. The MSO looks forward to planning an exciting lineup of events for optometry students!