Tips4EyeDocs Daily – 01/04/2012 – No.17 – Where to go for your CE.


A new year dawns a whole new season of trade shows and continuing education conferences. The competition is fierce and nothing is fiercer as that in continuing education. If it was humanly possible, a doctor could easily accumulate 100 hours in a year if they just went to all of the courses that are national in reach. Throw in the regional ones and you can see that doctors everywhere have to make hard decisions of where to go.

Typically, the average optometrist budgets at least one national show per year and 1-2 regional ones. The balance of their required continuing education hours can be met by local meetings given by individual ophthalmology practices and by various vendors. But narrowing down the choices to this kind of formula tends to create a pattern where a doctor might not see different speakers or meet other doctors; views often lost if a doctor goes to the same meeting yearly.

The many continuing education venues all jockey to host the well-known, the notorious or the controversial as continuing lecturers. However, at these national meetings, these speakers may be so polished from repetitive deliveries, that their approach becomes predictable and less novel. At the smaller meetings, the influence of the sponsor may be such that speaker is timid about expressing forthrightly their experiences. Therefore, gauging the veracity or relevancy of continuing education speakers is a struggle that attendees have. In the end, their satisfaction is probably molded by group think that the speaker is wonderful by their reputation alone or by the menu served at the meeting. Doctors will need to assess critically their speakers and hold them to a much higher standard than even their instructors in optometry school, because the attendee should know better.

In addition, whether a meeting is attractive may hinge upon non-educational factors. The event planners and sponsors are well aware that these education meetings at resorts remove the attendee from their natural surroundings and thus their natural scientific skepticism. They actually become more receptive to the subliminal advertising pitches of the sponsors or even the speakers.

In summary, the economy won’t improve much faster than the explosive growth in educational meetings and courses. Time and money are dear and should be wisely spent to avoid a potential for cognitive dissonance that a meeting wasn’t worth attending. Consider going outside your usual comfort zones to catch different speakers and meet doctors from other parts of the country. It will be rewarding.


  1. In the Jan 24 Neurology issue, researchers found that 4 vitamins help maintain brain size in 104 patients of 85 and older. Spotted on Twitter via @DrJenGunter: Vitamins B, C, D and E and Omega-3 Strengthen Older Brains: .
  2. These tips are ‘general’ in nature, but are well worth remembering as a strategy for 2012 in dealing with medical billing. Spotted on Twitter via @MedMgtServices: 6 Do’s and Don’ts for 2012 Healthcare Billing offices .


RELEVANCE: In this paper published two years ago, the onset of glaucoma did not measurably affect the overall health of a patient. Data sets included aggregate data from Medicare claims and did not measure the “quality of life”.


Kymes SM, Plotzke MR, Li JZ, Nichol MB, Wu J, Fain J.The increased cost of medical services for people diagnosed with primary open-angle glaucoma: a decision analytic approach.” Am J Ophthalmol. 2010 Jul;150(1):74-81. Epub 2010 May 20. 

PURPOSE: Glaucoma accounts for more than 11% of all cases of blindness in the United States, but there have been few studies of economic impact. We examine incremental cost of primary open-angle glaucoma considering both visual and nonvisual medical costs over a lifetime of glaucoma. DESIGN: A decision analytic approach taking the payor’s perspective with microsimulation estimation.

METHODS: We constructed a Markov model to replicate health events over the remaining lifetime of someone newly diagnosed with glaucoma. Costs of this group were compared with those estimated for a control group without glaucoma. The cost of management of glaucoma (including medications) before the onset of visual impairment was not considered. The model was populated with probability data estimated from Medicare claims data (1999 through 2005). Cost of nonocular medications and nursing home use was estimated from California Medicare claims, and all other costs were estimated from Medicare claims data.

RESULTS: We found modest differences in the incidence of comorbid conditions and health service use between people with glaucoma and the control group. Over their expected lifetime, the cost of care for people with primary open-angle glaucoma was higher than that of people without primary open-angle glaucoma by $1688 or approximately $137 per year.

CONCLUSIONS: Among Medicare beneficiaries, glaucoma diagnosis not found to be associated with significant risk of comorbidities before development of visual impairment. Further study is necessary to consider the impact of glaucoma on quality of life, as well as aspects of physical and visual function not captured in this claims-based analysis. 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID: 20493465 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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About Richard Hom OD, MPA

Dr. Hom holds Doctor of Optometry and Masters in Public Administration degrees and practices family eye care and consults on public policy, health information technology and program evaluation.
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