Vermont Ophthalmological Society Information on S.233

All Surgery is Serious. 

In Vermont, with something as precious as Eyesight, we can not take unnecessary risks. Vermont ophthalmologists are proud to provide the best care to Vermonters across the state. 


Our eyes are one of the most sensitive and precious organs in our body. That is why certified ophthalmology physicians go through extensive medical education and surgery training, because when it comes to your eyesight, the consequences of bad care are potentially life altering. The Vermont Ophthalmological Society is committed to protecting Vermonters and ensuring that Vermonters receive excellent care provided by experienced and highly trained physicians.


Vermont Has Strong Standards

Vermont laws currently ensure that no Vermonter has to worry about the quality of the medical eye care they are receiving. 


Our laws feature strong patient protections related to eye surgery and medical management.  The requirements to operate on eyes demand:


  • Medical school degree
  • Rigorous training at a 4 year nationally accredited and standardized  medical residency; 
  • Eight years of medical training, including real life cumulative experience


Safety At Risk

As part of a national drive to expand their business, the Vermont optometry lobby is pushing to lower safety standards. Despite inadequate medical training, they are urging Vermont lawmakers to authorize optometrists to conduct scalpel and laser surgical care in and around the eye.  


A bill proposed in the State Capital asks lawmakers to endorse an unprecedented expansion of optometry practice into scalpel and laser eye surgery. Optometrists are not trained at the level required to ensure safety and mitigate risk during these procedures. 


Why Lower Training Requirements for Eye Surgery?

There is no reason to lower Vermont’s medical eye care patient protections. In Vermont we are fortunate that we have ophthalmologists throughout the state, all of whom are licensed and trained medical doctors. Vermont ophthalmologists spend years training so that they can provide the highest level of care and perform scalpel and laser surgical care in and around the eye. If a Vermont patient needs urgent eye surgery, they can get the care they need right away from a trained physician surgeon.


Support Safe Vision Care

Our eyes are one of the most sensitive and precious organs in our body. We will not be silent as lawmakers consider allowing optometrists, who have no standardized surgical training, to perform scalpel and laser eye surgeries on vulnerable Vermonters. We have a duty to our patients and loved ones to ensure that when you are receiving surgery for something as essential as your eyes, the care is of the absolute highest standard for safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Ophthalmologist?

An Ophthalmologist is both a Physician and Surgeon (MD or DO) who specializes in the treatment of diseases, conditions, and injuries of the eye. An ophthalmologist has the highest level of training of any clinician who specializes in eye care, which allows an Ophthalmologist to perform surgery of the eye in Vermont.

Following a four-year undergraduate degree, an Ophthalmologist completes four years of medical school. The purpose of medical school is to prepare a Physician to understand all aspects of the human body and how different systems interact with each other.

Following medical school, an Ophthalmologist completes a one-year internship and then a three-year Ophthalmology residency, all of which is hospital-based training. The eye is complicated, which is why an Ophthalmologist’s training is intense. Ophthalmology residency programs are very competitive.

Following residency, many Ophthalmologists complete a one or two-year fellowship in a sub-specialty such as retina or cornea.

It is only after all of this training that an Ophthalmologist is deemed prepared to practice Ophthalmology in an independent setting.

It is estimated that at least 17,280 of the total hours that ophthalmologists spend in medical school, internship, and residency are spent in gaining experience and taking care of patients who enter hospitals, tertiary care centers, and academic medical centers. This is based on an estimate of an average of 60 hours per week (including on-call duty, the maximum duty hours for residents is 80 hours per week) multiplied by 48 weeks and by six years. During training, the ACGME requires that ophthalmologists manage a minimum of 3,000 outpatient visits with a broad range of disease presentation, and that they assist at and then personally perform under supervision a specified minimum number of various surgical procedures.

Is Some Eye Surgery Less Risky?


Whether you are undergoing open-heart surgery or having “lumps and bumps” removed from around the eye, remember that every surgery is serious. Every surgery leaves a scar, and every surgery involves risk. To put it bluntly, there is no such thing as a simple surgery.

During medical school and residency training, a future Surgeon learns to have a deep reverence for the body and for the diseases that can harm it. A skilled Eye Physician can make surgery look deceptively easy, but it never is easy. 

All surgery is serious, especially when your eyesight can be at risk.