(To The Editor) Letter to Joel Robison, E.D., Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians:

August 2018 

My name is Dr. Naheed Ahmad and I am President of Energeyes, a nonprofit association representing optometrists who choose to practice in a corporate-affiliated environment. On behalf of our organization and the doctors we represent nationwide, we reach out to express our disappointment that your organization has chosen to attack fellow doctors within our industry in order to protect yourselves from the competition faced every day by doctors in 47 other states.

This November, Oklahomans have the opportunity to vote for modern vision care laws offering patients greater access to eye care by allowing licensed optometrists to practice in retail settings. This opportunity would provide numerous benefits to Oklahoma patients, which is why we are deeply troubled by the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) misinformation campaign to frighten voters into believing vision services offered in retail locations are of lower quality. 

During a television appearance on May 30 on KOCO News 5 in Oklahoma City, you claimed that “retailers are trying to get as many patients in the chair as they can, doing a quick refraction, not doing a complete exam.” But Oklahomans deserve to know your claim is not true. In fact, Oklahoma patients receiving eye care in a retail setting will see the same high standards and quality of care that they receive in an independent optometrist’s office. We have the same qualifications and skills as all other optometrists and many of us practice the medical model. 
Many of us have OCTs, retinal cameras and additional advanced instrumentation to care for our patients. Corporations do not dictate our patient care which is why there is high patient satisfaction (https://www.consumerreports.org/eyeglasses/buying-eyeglasses-avoid-being-gouged/) with the quality of eye care services patients receive in retail environments. 
     
You also claimed that “we can expect quality of care to deteriorate” (https://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/opinionfeatured/joel-robison-vision-care-is-a-bright-spot-in-oklahoma/article_a19bb16c-040c-548e-bbec-026da0b9406f.html) if State Question 793 passes. This is a very disingenuous and totally unproven statement. I challenge you to produce any facts to support your claim. There are none.

As you know, S.Q. 793 will require optometrists practicing in retail settings to have exactly the same qualifications as those currently practicing throughout Oklahoma. Your mischaracterization is not only detrimental to the thousands of qualified and talented optometrists practicing in retail settings across the country, but also to the millions of Americans who use and enjoy these services. It is disappointing that the OAOP is attempting to limit competition in the Oklahoma eye care marketplace and your organization is so willing to malign its colleagues with implications of lesser quality of care, claims which have no factual basis. 

The OAOP should know the focus of S.Q. 793 is not optometrists. The goal is to place Oklahoma patients first by offering them more access to eye care — a mission one would think the OAOP would support. Oklahoma is one of only three states prohibiting retailers from providing eye care services, whose effect keeps prices artificially high and restricts access to affordable, quality eye care for those who need it most, particularly low-income families, children, and senior citizens. S.Q. 793 would simply give all Oklahomans access to convenient, affordable and quality eye care currently enjoyed by residents in 47 states.      

If the OAOP wants to deprive patients of quality vision care services that places patients above profits, then it should make its case to voters. But it should stop pushing incorrect narratives about the dedicated optometrists across the country providing high-quality eye care to patients in retail settings every day and who are licensed and possess the same qualifications as all practicing optometrists in Oklahoma.

Fortunately, facts speak louder than scare tactics. 

Sincerely,

Naheed Ahmad OD, Energeyes Association 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

NOTE: Naheed Ahmad, O.D., is president of Energeyes Association, described as “The American Association of Corporate Optometrists.” She sent this letter to the Oklahoma Association of Optometic Physicians on behalf of the entire Energeyes Board of Directors. Advocates of State Question 793 forwarded the letter to CapitolBeatOK.


Naheed Ahmad O.D., Energeyes Association

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