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July 1995

The Importance of Public Service in the Life of an Ophthalmologist

Author Affiliations

Baltimore, Md

Arch Ophthalmol. 1995;113(7):860-861. doi:10.1001/archopht.1995.01100070034020

The focus of the debate concerning health care system reform has been primarily on cost, value, and access. Embedded in the access issue are the millions of Americans who remain uninsured and underinsured. For these Americans there is no access, and as long as the discussion regarding reform remains a logjam in Congress, health care remains inaccessible for a significant number of Americans. There is an opportunity awaiting us as ophthalmologists that allows us to extend ourselves beyond our insured patients, ie, public service. There are three reasons for ophthalmologists to get involved: (1) there exists a significant public need; (2) public service benefits the profession; and (3) public service fulfills our personal goal as physicians to care for our fellow man.

In the United States, it is estimated that there are more than 900 000 people legally blind among individuals 40 years old and older.1(p5) The annual economic

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