Optometry Scope of Practice & Legislation in North Carolina

Considering a career as an optometrist in the state of North Carolina? Below is a quick reference guide to becoming an optometrist in North Carolina as well as the current scope of practice.

How to become an optometrist in North Carolina:

  • Passing scores on NBEO Part I, II, and III as well as scores of no less than 75 on TMOD exam (Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease)
  • Successful completion of North Carolina State Board Exam (4 stations including 12 total case-based patient scenarios and one station including clinical procedures)

In order to maintain your North Carolina license, you must complete 25 hours of continuing education per year. No less than 12 hours of the continuing education requirement must be in courses focused on current practices and advancements in the fields of ocular and general pharmacology, diagnosis and therapeutics, or advanced clinical procedures.

Optometrist in North Carolina can:

  • Prescribe topical and oral medications to treat allergies, infections, and inflammation
  • Diagnose, treat, and manage glaucoma with the use of topical and oral medications
  • Prescribe oral steroids
  • Prescribe Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs
  • Order imaging such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI, echocardiogram, and temporal artery ultrasonography
  • Deliver injectable treatments for the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye diseases and adnexa (treatment of chalazia, peri-ocular injections, foreign body removal, and punctual plugs)
  • Perform fluorescein angiography injections (upon completion of the credentialing curriculum and certification from the North Carolina State Board of Examiners in Optometry)

Optometrists in North Carolina cannot:

  • Perform laser procedures such as LPI, SLT, ALT, and YAG

Current legislative issues in North Carolina:

  • Senate bill 587: Optometry education grant: An act that would provide North Carolina residents that are attending an “approved out-of-state educational institution to pursue a doctorate of optometry” up to $11,000 per academic year in grant funding
  • Senate bill 805/House bill 1066: Study Establishment of new optometry school: An act that would require the “Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, and encourage the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc. to study the feasibility of establishing an affiliated school of optometry”

Fun facts about optometry in North Carolina: 

  • In 1977, North Carolina became: The 1st state to allow for oral drug therapy (including narcotics) and injectable therapy, and he 2nd state to allow the management of glaucoma. “In the early 70’s, the optometry leaders of North Carolina realized the potential of this profession even before much of the profession.  They understood that we have a responsibility to manage all aspects of the eye and coordinate care between other professions for the benefit of our patients. They emphasized that we are doctors and that we as a profession should be instrumental in the diagnosis, treatment and management of ocular disease.” – Jamie Casper, O.D., Ph.D., FAAO – President-Elect North Carolina State Optometric Society
  • North Carolina Senator, David Curtis, is a graduate of Southern College of Optometry

How to get involved:

  • Attend North Carolina State Optometric Society (NCSOS) meetings
  • “Like” North Carolina State Optometric Society on Facebook
  • For further information contact Adrianne Drolette, Executive Director of the North Carolina State Optometric Society, at Adrianne@nceyes.org
  • Attend AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

North Carolina has been a leader in the field of optometry by pushing the scope of practice. North Carolina is a wonderful place to practice optometry and its leaders will continue paving the path for our profession to advance.


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