February 15, 2017 | POSTED BY | Involvement, Organized Optometry, Scope of Practice
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Atlanta_skylineHome to peaches and Coca-Cola, the state of Georgia also maintains a wide scope of practice for optometrists to appreciate in its beautiful southern lands. Beginning on July 14, 1904, the Georgia Optometric Association (GOA) has worked endlessly to promote the optometric profession in Georgia, starting by making Georgia the 38th state in the nation to legalize optometry. For those looking to practice in Georgia, here is a quick overview of the scope of practice and current legislative issues that the state is currently facing.

 Optometrists in Georgia CAN:

  • Use ophthalmic topical pharmaceutical agents for diagnostic purposes
  • Treat glaucoma patients with prescription medications
  • Prescribe oral medications including steroids
  • Prescribe schedule II (hydrocodone only), III, and IV drugs
  • Perform lacrimal irrigation and dilation

 Optometrists in Georgia CANNOT:

  • Inject pharmaceutical agents
  • Perform laser procedures (Nd:YAG, LASIK, PRK etc.).

 Latest Scope of Practice Battle in Georgia:

Currently, Georgia has no injection privileges, not even in cases of anaphylaxis. SB 221 is a bill moving in the Senate, which would allow optometrists to administer pharmaceutical agents (except Schedule I and II controlled substances) related to the diagnosis or treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye and adnexa.

New technologies, such as Opternative, are being introduced to consumers that allows them to obtain a spectacle prescription from a remote doctor who has no relationship with nor has ever examined them. This means that consumers can obtain a spectacle prescription without having a comprehensive eye exam (CEE).  HB 775 is a consumer protection bill which was passed last year. To protect patients, the bill looks to amend the Georgia Contact Lens Act to include glasses and will only allow contact lens prescriptions to be given to patients after they have had a CEE with a licensed eye care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist). Holding off on dispensing a spectacle or contact lens prescription until a CEE is performed ensures that patients’ eyes undergo a complete visual and medical evaluation. Optometrists must educate patients that the eye care we provide entails so much more than flipping lenses to improve visual acuity. Currently, the bill has been referred to the Regulated Industries Committee and is waiting to be heard.

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Getting Involved:

As you have probably heard time and time again, optometry is a legislated profession. Georgia has a comprehensive scope of practice due to the fortitude of the Georgia Optometric Association (GOA) and the involvement of active optometrists who work tirelessly to strengthen the future of our profession. GOA recently held their annual “Optometry’s Day at the Capitol” under the “Gold Dome” at the end of January. Attendees were updated on GOA legislative issues and had an opportunity to meet with legislators. The GOA holds its annual optometric conference that will take place June 1-4, 2017 in Hilton Head. Consider attending if you are planning on practicing in Georgia after graduation. There should be plenty of fun, sun, and CE!

The GOA provides FREE student membership for students currently attending optometry school and have the intention of practicing in Georgia.

For more articles regarding the optometric scope of practice in your state, click here!

A special thanks to Hannah Leach of the GOA for her help with this article.