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Embracing the Future: Optometry’s Bold Leap Forward

February 5, 2024

Dear Friends,

In the ever-evolving landscape of health care, it is a remarkable time to be part of the optometry profession. As we stand on the cusp of groundbreaking advancements, it’s clear that our field is undergoing a significant transformation, one that promises to redefine the scope and impact of eye care. The expansion of optometric practice to include laser and surgical procedures in 10 states is a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation within our community. This metamorphosis not only enhances our ability to serve our patients but also elevates the role of optometrists in the broader health care ecosystem.

At the heart of this transformation are visionary leaders who dare to reimagine the boundaries of our profession. It is with immense pride and gratitude that I recognize the American Academy of Optometric Medicine and Surgery (AAOMS) for its pivotal role in this journey. The AAOMS, under the guidance of its co-founders, Drs. John McCall, Nate Lighthizer, and Dixon Golden, has been instrumental in advocating for and implementing the expansion of optometric practice rights. Their dedication to advancing our profession is not just commendable; it is transformative.

The establishment of the AAOMS marks a significant milestone in optometry’s history. By championing the integration of laser and surgical procedures into optometric practice, the AAOMS is not only enhancing the scope of care we can provide but also ensuring that optometrists are at the forefront of adopting and mastering these advanced techniques. This evolution reflects a profound understanding of the changing needs of our patients and the health care landscape at large.

As we celebrate the achievements of the AAOMS and its founders, let us also acknowledge the broader implications of these advancements. The inclusion of laser and surgical procedures in optometric practice is a clear indication of the trust and confidence placed in our profession by both the health care community and the patients we serve. It underscores the importance of continuous learning, adaptation, and leadership in health care.

The journey of optometry’s expansion into laser and surgical procedures is a vivid reminder of the power of innovation and collaboration. As more states recognize and embrace these expanded practice rights, we are not only witnessing the growth of our profession but also ensuring that we remain at the cutting edge of patient care.

In closing, I extend my heartfelt thanks to Drs. McCall, Lighthizer, and Golden, and to all those who are tirelessly working to advance the field of optometry. Your leadership and vision are taking us to new dimensions in patient care, setting a remarkable example for future generations of optometrists. As we look forward to the continued growth and evolution of our profession, let us all commit to embracing these changes with open minds and hearts, always striving to provide the highest level of care to those we serve.

With warmest regards,

Jack L. Schaeffer, OD, FAAO



  • Jack L. Schaeffer, OD, FAAO, Chief Clinical Editor

    Dr. Schaeffer is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. He practiced in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was also president of an 18-location group practice and a refractive laser center. Dr. Schaeffer lectures internationally and serves on many industry boards and advisory panels. He is involved with many clinical studies on contact lenses, pharmaceuticals, and equipment. He has recently authored a miniseries on the history of contact lenses and the contact lens specialty practice. He was an Executive Associate Editor of the International Contact Lens Leadership Summit and the developer and Editor of the series, Optometry Scene. Dr. Schaeffer also served as Chairman of the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the American Optometric Society. He served as board member and fundraising chairman for Optometry Cares: The AOA Foundation and the GPLI Institute. Dr. Schaeffer is on the College of Charleston School of Business Board of Governors. Dr. Schaeffer is involved in multiple community, charitable, and political organizations in Alabama and South Carolina.

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