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Copyright 2010 The Register-Herald

The Register-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia) 

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News 

February 23, 2010 Tuesday 


ACC-NO: 20100223-WZ-Optometrists-win-battle-in-surgery-bill-0223 

LENGTH: 601 words 

HEADLINE: Optometrists win battle in surgery bill 

BYLINE: Mannix Porterfield, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. 


   Feb. 23--CHARLESTON -- West Virginia optometrists scored a major victory Monday in an amended Senate bill that expands their scope of practice to embrace three types of laser surgery to treat glaucoma patients.

   After weeks of intense debate and lobbying, the Senate accepted an amendment by Judiciary Chairman Jeffrey Kessler to widen the range of practice, setting up a showdown today on the bill itself.

   Before his amendment was adopted, Government Organization Chairman Ed Bowman, D-Hancock, sought to compromise the bill by narrowing laser surgery to a single one. Originally, the bill allowed four lines of surgery.

   Kessler said optometrists have been treating glaucoma cases since 1976, but Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, countered that no lasers have been involved.

   "It's a far cry from simply treating it with a drug to this type of procedure," Foster maintained.

By Phil Kabler

Staff writer for the Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill to allow optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures on patients' eyes (SB230) remained in limbo for a sixth day Tuesday, as senators debated behind the scenes whether to send the bill to Health and Human Resources Committee.

The measure -- which has caused considerable infighting between optometrists and ophthalmologists -- advanced from the Senate Government Organization Committee on Feb. 10, but the bill has not been reported to the Senate floor.

Senators, huddling during Tuesday's floor session to confer on the issue, were trying to get a headcount on whether there are enough votes to refer the bill to the Health Committee.

Health and Human Resources Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said he's leaving it up to the members to decide whether to send the bill to his committee.

However, he said, the integrity of the legislative process will be compromised if the bill is allowed to bypass the committee.

West Virginia Gazette Mail

Section: Perspective

By: Phil Kabler

State ophthalmologists and optometrists have resumed their turf battle this session over who can and who can’t use lasers on people’s eyes – although in the Senate, ironically, the issue won’t be going before the Health & Human Resources Committee.

Well, maybe not so ironically, considering the legendary and ongoing feud between Health and Human Resources Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, and uber-lobbyist Nelson Robinson, whose long list of clients includes the state Optometric Association.

(In fact, the bill has only one Senate committee reference – Government Organization, which debated the issue without resolution for an hour last week in front of a packed-to-the-rafters crown of interested parties.)

Prezio was quietly fuming when I raised the issue of how a bill (SB230) affecting the public’s health could possibly bypass the health committee.

By Ry Rivard

Charleston Daily Mail Capitol Reporter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As many as 4,800 West Virginia drivers failed a Department of Motor Vehicles eye examination last year, the agency estimates.

A year after a state law took effect mandating the exams for license renewal, about 400 of the 21,000 drivers who come into renew their license each month have failed, said Steve Dale, deputy DMV commissioner.

He said the numbers were a ballpark figure. There are about 1.3 million drivers in West Virginia.

WVU Expanding Eye Care Services to Rural Areas

The Charleston Gazette

January 21, 2010

By Veronica Nett

West Virginians have fairly convenient access to eye care services, but the issue in rural areas is providing specialized care that is generally centralized in Charleston and Morgantown, said Judie Charlton, chairwoman of WVU’s Department of Ophthalmology.

West Virginians face a “pending epidemic” when it comes to their eyesight, the chairwomen of West Virginia University’s Department of Ophthalmology says.

This rate of state residents with glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy is on the rise, Dr Judie Charlton, said Wednesday in an interview with the Gazette.

Both conditions can cause blindness if not treated early, and occur in conjunction with the aging population, smoking and diabetes, Charlton said. West Virginia has one of the oldest populations in the nation and also has some of the highest rates of diabetes and smoking.

Copyright 2009 Palo Alto Daily News

Palo Alto Daily News (California) 

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News 

November 14, 2009 Saturday 


ACC-NO: 20091114-PL-VA-hospital-1114 

LENGTH: 820 words 

HEADLINE: VA hospital: State requests probe of VA hospital \\?? 23 glaucoma patients suffered serious vision loss 

BYLINE: Jessica Bernstein, Palo Alto Daily News, Calif. 


   Nov. 14--The state consumer affairs department has formally requested an investigation into the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, where 23 glaucoma patients experienced significant vision loss while receiving treatment.

   California Department of Consumer Affairs Director Brian Stiger made the request in response to an administrative petition the California Academy of Eye Surgeons and Physicians, the American Glaucoma Society and the California Medical Association filed in September with his agency.

   "As the events at the VA hospital do concern consumers, I am formally requesting that the Board of Optometry, together with the Medical Board of California, investigate the occurrences at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Hospital regarding the eye

   care provided to veterans, including the role of optometrists and physicians in that care," Stiger wrote in a Nov. 10 letter addressed to Dr. James Ruben, president of the California Academy of Eye Surgeons and Physicians.

   "To the extent permitted by existing state and federal law, I am also requesting that those boards make public the findings of the investigation," Stiger said.


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