An opthalmologist sits back and clicks off his slit lamp. “Go ahead and sit back for me, Mr. L. I’m noticing some clouding on the intraocular lens implant we gave you. Its not caused by anything you or the surgeon did or didn’t do, but it does occur in about 30% of patients. I think laser treatment would clear it right up.”
This is a common conversation that ophthalmologists across the United States routinely have with their patients. In Louisiana, optometrists can now have it too. The highly anticipated and controversial House Bill 1065 gives optometrists the legislative authority to extend their scope of practice to procedures that, up until June 1 2014, only ophthalmologists had the authority to do. Along with recently passed legislation in Kentucky and Oklahoma, Louisiana has now become the third state to allow optometrists to perform surgeries such as lid injections for removal of styes and simple laser treatments for glaucoma or post cataract surgery. The bill prohibits any procedures involving stitches or general anesthesia.
Optometrists in Louisiana, regardless of prior training, will have to be retrained and certified in order to perform these procedures. Supporters of the bill state that this is a huge win for the profession, providing critical services to patients who have limited access to ophthalmologists.
We want your input! Who will be the next state to pass a similar law? What’s next for the future of the profession? Get a conversation going in the comments below!