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Legislative Update

Insight 1st quarter 2019
Legislative Report

Over the past ten years, many of you have chosen to join forces with me to defend and protect the noble profession of Florida optometry and the right our patients have to high quality eye healthcare. I am very proud of our combined efforts and appreciative of all of your support in the pursuit and achievement of these goals. Furthermore, our unity in this adventure proves that, in spite of surrounding political turmoil, election processes and pressures, and intense political party disagreement, we remain united in both our cause and core beliefs regarding our profession. Through our work together, many positive outcomes have and will continue to be achieved.

For example:

OD-EYEPAC and FLOPAC membership have nearly tripled providing support for our “like-minded" champions in the Florida Legislature.

Legislation has been defeated or passed each year to protect and serve our profession and our patients’ eye health and safety. Always remember: we are a legislated profession.

Through our positive grass roots campaigns we have changed the perception of both "who we are” and "what we do” in terms of our true role as primary eye care physicians.

Likewise, we have clearly demonstrated "why we do it” in the 67 counties that combine to cover the great State of Florida. Put simply, we collectively believe saving and improving sight promotes a higher and healthier quality of life for Floridians.

However, let me assure you that our work in this task will never be done.

In fact, we are not in a war with a single enemy over a single issue - we are in a vigilant posture to defend and protect our profession and our patients. As such, our posture must be maintained through both financial and physical support. When left alone or ignored, our posture weakens.  When supported, our posture strengthens. We are either growing or dying in our efforts, and this is the simple dynamic that faces us today and every day in the future.

As an aside, many of you have asked my personal opinion on the future of our profession. So here goes:

I personally believe the next ten years could be the best years our profession has ever experienced. Now let me tell you why I believe this to be true:

1. The need for your services is going to roughly triple as our population grows and people live longer than ever before in history.

2. Early intervention, in the detection and treatment of eye disease processes, such as Diabetes, Glaucoma, and Macular Degeneration, will save the healthcare system millions of dollars. These are the patients we serve on a daily basis. Through our ability to educate and guide our patients, fewer patients will progress as rapidly to blindness or end-stage disease. 

3. The online or "virtual" eye exam experience will not be embraced by the majority of patients. The value of the relationship you have on the human-to-human level (or as some people call it, “the brick and mortar experience") will remain valuable to the majority of the patient base.

4. The use of new technology, including certain aspects of telemedicine, will actually enhance your capabilities in terms of patient care. I have owned an OCT for a number of years and recently added a wide field camera to the patient experience in my office. However, we must never allow a stand-alone refraction, provided via any means, to supplant the value of a dilated, comprehensive eye exam for our patients.   

So there you have it: my personal opinion on why my forecast of our future is bright.

And I believe we are on the right path to achieve it, as long as we don't fall asleep along the way. Thank you again for all of your faith, help, and support. Please help us to continue to gain membership in FOA and OD-EYEPAC/FLOPAC. 


Kenneth W. Lawson, O.D.

FOA Legislative Chair




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