The Refractive Surgery Alliance was formed in 2013 by a group of dedicated refractive surgeons with the mission of bringing the benefits of refractive surgery to more people through collaboration. Collaboration and leadership among physicians dedicated to that mission is having tremendous impact on the field, and we invite all refractive surgeons who are dedicated to that mission to join us.
In surveys of past patients, many people rate having refractive surgery as one of the top 5 events in their lifetimes, along with marriage and the birth of a child. It’s really no surprise given that most people also rate vision as their most valuable human sense and use their vision every waking minute.
Refractive surgery was certainly transformative for me. Having bad vision and being dependent on glasses and contacts as a child really bothered me. I recall a particular day at the lake. All the other guys were having a blast boating, tubing, and water-skiing. I was excited for my turn to give it a go, only to realize that in a moment of my own excitement, I had jumped into the water with my glasses still on. Down to the bottom of the lake they went, along with the fun I was about to have for the rest of the day. No waterskiing, had to call someone to drive me home, and couldn’t see my friends faces the rest of the afternoon as they enjoyed the lake and each other’s company much more than I could, functionally blind without my glasses. Thanks to the careful hands of my refractive surgeon, his expertise with vision correction technology, and his willingness to take me on as a patient, I’ve been able to say goodbye to all of those struggles completely for the past 13 years. Having my vision corrected was a turning point in my life.
The RSA is committed to bringing the benefits of refractive surgery to more people through 5 major initiatives, all of which are well under way:
(1) Surgeon Education via the Master of Refractive Surgery (MORS program), which has already enrolled many surgeons under the leadership of Dan Durrie, MD, and is more refractive surgery training than ophthalmologists can get in a traditional corneal fellowship program;
(2) Aligning with ophthalmic industry to ensure access to technology and innovation ensures up-to-date equipment in the best interest of patients;
(3) Past Patient Outreach and follow-up;
(4) Patient and community Education; and
(5) Making refractive surgery affordable via financing that creates an economic model that is financially in parity with glasses and contact lenses.
I am humbled and honored to lead this group of compassionate and ethical physicians dedicated to advancing the field by working together. Rather than seeing their refractive surgeon down the street as “competition” we must work with each other as colleagues. Our messaging to patients must move away from technology and us to the benefits of refractive surgery and why it benefits them. Messaging around cost must move away from price and emphasize affordability compared to previous alternatives.
There are three milestones of refractive development – ocular adulthood in early adults, (distance correction), presbyopia in middle age (reading vision) and refractive lens surgery when cataracts form. Refractive surgery is becoming the default solution for vision correction at all three milestone and that trend will grow over time.
The RSA is excited to lead the way in providing the resources and collaboration to engage more ophthalmologists in refractive surgery at all 3 milestones of vision development. With all the modern and sophisticated technologies available today, we have wonderful solutions to provide excellent vision to our patients throughout life. It is an exciting time to be an ophthalmologist.
We hope you will join us as we collaborate to deliver the benefits of refractive surgery to more and more people by growing every member’s practice.
Greg Parkhurst, MD, FACS, RSA President
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