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PAs' Skills in Providing Vision and Ocular Care

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

According to JAAPA, the United States had 139,688 physician assistants (PAs) in 2019. Thirty-five percent of all PAs were working primarily in primary care, urgent care, and emergency medicine. For PAs specializing in ophthalmology, we previously reported on an example of integrating a PA into an ophthalmology consult service and evaluated the scope of practice for PAs in ophthalmology across the United States. Little is known about the extent of PA involvement in vision and ocular care outside ophthalmology.

A survey on PA practice was administered to 5,763 randomly selected US-based PAs, and 537 respondents who completed the survey were invited to complete a separate vision and ocular care survey. Of those respondents, 382 completed the vision and ocular care survey.


Among respondents, 23% of PAs were involved in eyecare by providing patient information, answering questions, and initiating discussions about vision care and ocular health more than once per month. More than 77% received vision and ocular care training in and/or outside PA training. PAs involved in eyecare had significantly greater odds of reporting higher desired and current skill and ability levels compared with PAs not involved in eyecare, in six of eight vision and ocular care domains.


PAs who do not practice in ophthalmology provide vision and ocular care but have varying amounts of training and desire higher skill and ability levels. Ophthalmologists and PA institutions may develop vision and ocular care training for PA schools and continuing medical education.

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