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Dr. Cyrus Bass case set stage for future ODs

May 1, 2012

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the article about voting for the top story of the past 50 years in optometry. I believe the top story was never widely published, but can be found in the AOA’s files.

In July of 1964 a lawsuit was filed by Cyrus Bass, O.D., against the American Medical Association (AMA) for the vicious attacks against optometry. In convention, the AMA passed Resolutions No. 7 and 107, which in essence would eliminate optometry as a profession. Optometrists would be allowed to serve as technicians for ophthalmologists. Dr. Cyrus Bass succeeded in stopping these attacks by filing a lawsuit against the AMA.

I hope you will consider this action by Dr. Cyrus Bass and read the article “A Report to the Optometric Profession” by Cyrus Bass, O.D., on file at AOA headquarters. You will see Dr. Bass did a great service for optometry. This optometrist should be in the Hall of Fame, and his story made the top story of the past 50 years.

If it had not been for Dr. Cyrus Bass and his lawsuit, we might not be here as a profession. I know for I practiced in a small town with three MDs for over 50 years.

They were very supportive, but if the AMA resolution had become effective their cooperation would have vanished. Thankfully their cooperation remained for many years, and my last 12 years I spent working for an ophthalmologist with equal standing. Without Dr. Cyrus Bass’s lawsuit, this would not have been possible.

Please read the report. You have to read the report to fully understand the impact on optometrists at the time.

William P. Murrell, O.D., Northern Illinois College of Optometry 1948

Editor’s note: For more on Cyrus Bass, O.D., see the March 2012 AOA News and read the historical gem by Irving Bennett, O.D., at http://bit.ly/HiLoSV. To vote on the top story of the past 50 years, visit AOAConnect at http://bit.ly/sa18Dn.

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