New Kentucky optometry law prompting legislators in other states to consider same or similar changes

Now that Kentucky lawmakers have allowed optometrists to expand their scope of care, legislators in Nebraska, South Carolina and Texas may follow suit. They are looking at legislation that would allow optometrists to perform minor surgeries that were previously only allowed to be done by ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors.

Despite objections from several physician organizations — who say optometrists lack the medical training to perform the surgeries or deal with the complications — The Better Access to Quality Eye Care law was signed by Gov. Steve Beshear this winter. It lets optometrists perform a range of new procedures, including post-cataract surgery and two types of glaucoma surgery, reports Carolyne Krupa of American Medical News. The bill caused controversy partly because of the amount of campaign contributions, totaling almost $400,000, that optometrists made to all but one legislator and Beshear in the past two years.
Bills being considered in Nebraska and Texas would allow optometrists to “remove skin lesions from eyelids” and perform the same eye surgeries now permitted in Kentucky. The bills in Nebraska, Texas and South Carolina would also let optometrists make injections in the eyelid.
In 1998, Oklahoma because the first state to allow optometrists to perform some eye surgeries. Earlier this year, Kentucky became the second state nationwide. (Read more)
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