Distribution of Ophthalmologists and Optometrists in Louisiana and the United States

Peter Kastl, MD, PhD


Objective: to determine the distribution of ophthalmologists, optometrists, and their offices in Louisiana and the other states of the US, to test the assertion that optometrists outnumber ophthalmologists, thus needing surgical privileges to treat patients who cannot travel to a distant ophthalmologist.

Methods: the Medicare Physician Compare National downloadable file was analyzed. “Isolated optometry offices” were identified as offices in a zip code that did not contain an ophthalmology office. The average distance to the nearest ophthalmology office was calculated.

Results: there were 270 ophthalmologists in Louisiana with 634 offices, and 250 optometrists with 364 offices, meaning that ophthalmologists outnumbered optometrists by 8%, and by 74% in the number of offices. The average distance from isolated optometry offices to the nearest ophthalmologist was 13.1 miles.

Conclusions: Organized optometry has succeeded in getting a surgical law passed in Louisiana, claiming that optometrists are more numerous and rural than ophthalmologists. This communication disproves that claim.

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