Role and Use of Optometry in the Veterans Administration Need Improvement

HRD-78-129: Published: Jun 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 3, 1978.

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The Veterans Administration's (VA) Department of Medicine and Surgery is responsible for providing medical care (including optometry) for eligible veterans. A significant percentage of veterans have eye/vision disorders which require care.

Under the VA present eye/vision program, many veterans may not be receiving the needed care. In comparison to other health care systems, VA employs few optometrists and participates in few optometric training programs although legislation authorizes these activities. An expanded use of optometrists would help to meet the eye/vision care needs of veterans. VA has made an effort to improve its program to meet these needs by employing optometrists and participating in academic affiliations with schools of optometry. However, these efforts have been hindered by resistance from ophthalmogists, space and/or funding limitations, and lack of adequate direction and planning from the VA Central Office. This office has delegated its central management responsibilities to individual hospital and clinic directors. A more active role by the office would help to insure the success of optometric programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to: determine the adequacy of existing optometrist/ophthalmologist staffing and eye/vision care programs at each VA medical facility, develop eye/vision care programs using both optometrists and ophthalmologists to strengthen inadequate programs, develop guidelines for optimal optometrist/ophthalmologist staffing levels and the roles and responsibilities of optometrists, and increase VA participation in the education and training of optometrists in cooperation with schools and colleges of optometry.

    Agency Affected:


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