Are you thinking of practicing optometry in the sunny state of Arizona? Here is an overview of the current scope of practice and legislature that is happening in the Grand Canyon State.
Currently in Arizona, optometrists CAN:
- Prescribe Schedule II (hydrocone products only) and III narcotics.
- Prescribe anti-infectives including tetracycline and its derivatives, cephalosporins, penicillin and its derivatives, macrolides, fluroquinolones and antivirals.
- Prescribe topical and oral antihistamines.
- Prescribe topical and oral steroid medications for inflammation.
- Treat glaucoma with topical and oral medications, including carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
- Order labs and imaging, such as MRIs and X-rays to diagnose, treat, or manage conditions of the human eye and its adnexa.
- Injections for anaphylaxis.
- Perform post-operative care after ocular surgeries, dilation, foreign body removal, etc.
Currently in Arizona, optometrists CANNOT:
- Perform surgical procedures.
- Prescribe anti-fungals.
- Injections, except for anaphylaxis.
- Fluorescein angiography.
- Prescribe Schedule I, IV, and V narcotics.
Recent Legislature Passed in Arizona:
March of 2014 saw a big win for optometrists in Arizona. The passing of HB 2380 maintained the right for optometrists to prescribe hydrocodone combination drugs to their patients when it was reclassified from a schedule III to a schedule II narcotic. It also expanded the treatment of angle closure glaucoma to include oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitors when needed. Fluoroquinolones were added to the list of antibiotic treatments that optometrists are allowed to prescribe. In addition, intramuscular injections of epinephrine can be used for anaphylaxis without the requirement of airway equipment. Lastly, the use of oral steroids was added as another line of defense against inflammation.
The Future of Optometry in Arizona:
The Arizona Optometric Association (AZOA) is currently defending the scope of practice in Arizona. They are trying to make sure the eye care industry in Arizona stays safe from mall kiosks and online exams that potentially require no training to distribute medical devices. Furthermore, they are working to prevent insurance companies from being discriminatory towards optometrists. There are not immediate plans to expand the scope of practice here, but the next step would be to go after the right to utilize injections.
Arizona offers a wide range of practice to optometrists. The AZOA has made large strides in the recent past and will continue to do so to maintain and expand the scope and advancement in this profession. If you are interesting in meeting, networking, and potentially joining the great optometrists of the AZOA that make all of this possible, consider attending the 2015 spring congressional meeting in Tucson, Arizona from May 13-15. Also, consider attending the AOA-PAC’s Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. from April 12-14. At the conference, you will get to see how legislation works at the national level and stand alongside other optometrists fighting for rights in your state and in all other states. Students will learn how to advocate for the profession in the future and be able to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill.
To become a member of the AZOA, fill out the application and mail or fax it to the address listed. Membership is free for students! For the full list of current rules and statutes for optometry in Arizona with exact verbiage, click here.