Are Optometrists Trained to Treat Strabismus?

That seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Particularly on the heels of Dr. Fortenbacher’s post yesterday regarding MVTSG 2023…Post Concussion Syndrome, Vision and Learning and Complex Strabismus.

The reason I pose the question is to bring to your attention an egregious statement last week embedded in this story in Medscape Ophthalmology: Kid With Glasses: Many Children Live Far from Pediatric Eye Doc.

I got around to opening the story in my inbox this morning, which was based in part on an article published on January 26 in JAMA Ophthalmology titled Access to Pediatric Ophthalmological Care by Geographic Distribution and US Population Demographic Characteristics in 2022. The article was innocent enough, but the journalist writing the Medscape Ophthalmology piece on it took the opportunity to get a sound bite from Yasmin Bradfield, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison which contains one of the biggest smears on Optometry that I’ve seen in awhile. Here is the blatant falsehood, a direct quote as it appears in the story:

Consider the libel included in this statement. Not only does it misrepresent optometrists as not being trained in strabismus, but it implies that seeing an optometrist leaves some children at risk for losing their vision. By the way, if you go to the hyperlink to the AAPOS website, you’ll find this paragraph:

We know that this is a skewed description, but no where is there any implication that optometrists aren’t trained to treat strabismus, or that they “only” test and diagnosed vision changes. Whatever the motive, the journalist Amanda Schmidt who wrote the article took the opportunity to quote Yasmin Bradfield, MD to portray a very antiquated picture of Optometry clearly intended to depict the horror (my term) of taking a child to an optometrist. So what do when hatchet jobs like this arise? There are always three potential responses:

  1. Do nothing, rationalizing that calling attention to it is worse than ignoring it.
  2. Rant and rave about “Why doesn’t AOA or COVD address this?”
  3. Channel your energy into your own response.

I chose the latter in this case, posting the following in the Comments section on Medscape after the article:

I would encourage you to do this: Go to the Medscape Ophthalmology article through this link. If you’re not registered, the registration process is fairly easy and free with no strings attached. Then either add your own comment, piggyback on to mine, or click on the “thumb’s up” icon if you agree with what I wrote.

While I don’t know if they will retract the statement or revise the article, I do feel that it’s important we don’t let statements like this go by uncritically.

7 thoughts on “Are Optometrists Trained to Treat Strabismus?

  1. Thank you for your excellent response. I did not see where to give a thumbs up to your comments specifically and surely did not want to give a thumbs up to the article itself. This stuff never stops going around


  2. Fortunately for them, unfortunately for us, it’s almost impossible to comment on that article. I’ve tried to log onto that website with my adjunct faculty email account from both my office and now the university, but I can’t seem to get anything to work. Easy to keep misinformation visible when no one can comment…

      • Hah, I was actually trying to comment on the JAMA article itself as opposed to the medscape article. I didn’t realize until after I posted that the comment you made was on the medscape article. There are two MDs on the JAMA article stating their displeasure in the article, and I wanted to put an OD comment there… oh well

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