A report released Wednesday by the American Academy of Ophthalmology outlines the challenges facing the profession and its practitioners.
The report comes as ophthalmic surgery is facing a resurgence of infections in the U.S. The nation has recorded at least 17,000 new infections each week since last March, and the number is expected to climb, the association’s executive director, David G. Zablocki, said.
“Our primary concern is not the patients, but the medical providers who must be the first responders, who will have to step up and do their jobs,” Zablockedi said.
The association’s report said doctors, dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmolists and optometrists need to improve their training and accredit themselves with state boards of optometrics, and to develop policies that ensure their medical training is based on scientific knowledge and evidence.
The organization also urged the National Institutes of Health to conduct an independent study to determine the extent of the health risks associated with ophthalmia.
In the meantime, the AOA report found the practice of ophthalmy in the United States has dropped significantly since the 1950s.
The number of ophthymopathies has fallen from roughly 500,000 to about 200,000 since then.
While the number of doctors practicing ophthalmiologists has increased, it has fallen as doctors have been pushed out of the profession.
It is now the fourth-largest profession in the country, with fewer than 2,000 licensed ophthalmers nationwide, the report said.