Kelly A. Kiser, MD: Please describe the Refractive Surgery Alliance (RSA) and its fellowship program.
Guy M. Kezirian, MD, MBA, FACS: The RSA isn’t just an organization; it’s a vision-driven community aimed at pushing refractive surgery to the forefront of vision care. The main competition to refractive surgery is glasses and contact lenses, not other surgeons. The RSA is funded solely by its members without company sponsors. The organization values integrity and autonomy. Our five key initiatives are education, technology, outreach, awareness, and affordability. The RSA is focused on changing how refractive surgery is viewed and practiced.
The RSA Fellowship Network blends high-volume surgical exposure with top-tier academic learning. By bridging theoretical knowledge and practical experience, RSA fellows learn to emulate their mentors’ expertise. Unique to our network is a structured 2-year curriculum that is managed by leading academics and available globally. It involves more than 1,000 surgical cases, research, and innovative programs such as Forefront Refractive Surgery and the Physician CEO program.
The RSA fellowship is a 2-year program that includes a fellow year and an associate year. It offers a depth of learning and experience that we believe is unparalleled in refractive surgery. The associate year is competitively compensated, but the real value lies in the extensive surgical training and learning opportunities provided. The aim of this program is to develop future leaders in refractive surgery.
The program is in its third year and includes 25 fellows and associates from 13 countries across five continents, which fosters diversity and innovation. For a detailed look at the program and opportunities, click here.
Dr. Kiser: What do you envision for the RSA’s future?
Dr. Kezirian: The RSA is growing at every level. Through the RSA Ophthalmology Resident Webinar Series and the RSA fellowship program, the RSA is cultivating the next generation of refractive surgeons. We’re also excited about our cutting-edge symposia for refractive surgeons, programs for executives, the Master of Refractive Surgery courses, and online journal clubs. The ultimate goal is to position refractive surgery as the primary option for vision correction.
Dr. Kiser: Why did the World College of Refractive Surgery (WCRS) classify refractive surgery as a specialty?
Dr. Kezirian: Refractive surgery, like plastic surgery, focuses more on performance enhancement than pathology. It’s patient-funded and demands exceptional precision. In acknowledgment, the WCRS recognized refractive surgery as a separate specialty to foster innovation and excellence. (For more on the WCRS, see the sidebar below.)
Defining Excellence in Refractive Surgery
The World College of Refractive Surgery (WCRS) champions the specialization of refractive surgery by focusing on standards, accreditation, and impact. The organization aims to drive the growth of and innovation in refractive surgery with an emphasis on safety and outcomes.
Innovation Through Research and Practice
The WCRS supports technical innovation and clinical research by bringing clinicians, scientists, and manufacturers together to establish standards, promote safety, and drive innovation.
Commitment to Professional Development
The WCRS is dedicated to continuing the education and professional advancement of surgeons through symposia, scholarly publications, and partnerships with leading medical entities.
For more details on the WCRS’s initiatives and opportunities, click here.
Dr. Kiser: What strategies can be adopted to grow the field of refractive surgery?
Dr. Kezirian: The keys to growth are education and awareness. Our studies indicate that refractive surgeons—those most familiar with refractive surgery—often opt for it personally.1 Addressing fears and misconceptions about its safety and the risks of wearing glasses and contact lenses is essential. The RSA promotes positive, benefits-focused advertising to expand the market.
Dr. Kiser: What advice do you have for residents interested in refractive surgery?
Dr. Kezirian: I recommend joining the RSA Ophthalmology Resident Webinar Series. This free, unbiased resource has helped many residents pursue successful careers in refractive surgery.
Dr. Kiser: What new technology are you most excited about right now?
Dr. Kezirian: The use of AI in refractive surgery is exciting. AI’s ability to improve all aspects of patient care signifies the field’s rapid advancement and promising future.
1. Kezirian GM, Parkhurst GD, Brinton, JP, Norden, RA. Prevalence of laser vision correction in ophthalmologists who perform refractive surgery. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2015;41:1826-1832.