September 8, 2018 | POSTED BY | Articles, Organized Optometry, Scope of Practice
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New Mexico Scope of Practice

Beauty abounds in the great state of New Mexico. Known as the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico boasts scenic mountain ranges, vast deserts, historic ghost towns, and picturesque hot air balloon festivals. The landscape is home to incredible wildlife including wild horses, cacti, and native hogs known as peccary.

This state is not without cultural diversity as Santa Fe, the state capital, brims with art, music, and Southwestern cuisine. Just one hour south, the city of Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico, botanical gardens, museums, and hiking trails.

The need for optometric care is extensive within the New Mexican borders. The state is home to 27 indigenous tribes and shares its southern border with the country of Mexico. Approximately 50% of the population speaks Spanish, so students and current doctors with an aptitude for Spanish can support public health services by aiding the local Hispanic population. Doctors looking to practice at their full scope should look into performing outreach to the indigenous populations within the Indian Health Services.

The New Mexico Optometric Association has had great success both defending and advancing the rights of doctors within the state. New Mexico boasts one of the most extensive scopes of practice within the United States and is a pioneer in optometric medicine:

  • In 2015, New Mexico passed legislation allowing optometrists to prescribe Schedule II hydrocodone and hydrocodone-combination drugs. This legislation also removed restrictions on oral steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. The statute now allows optometrists to prescribe all medications necessary to treat the eye and surrounding adnexal tissue.
  • In 2017, New Mexico attempted to pass a patient protection bill. The bill prohibited the use of automated technologies such as smartphone apps, automated kiosks, computer terminals, virtual reality devices, or other remote imaging/measuring devices to generate or renew a prescription for eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other prescriptive optical devices without an in-person physical examination from an OD or OMD. Unfortunately, Governor Susana Martinez vetoed the legislation.

In New Mexico, optometrists CAN:

  • Administer medications including anesthetics by injection, including subcutaneous infiltrative, intralesional, intramuscular, and subconjunctival routes
  • Perform minor surgical procedures to correct ocular abnormalities such as removal of “lumps and bumps” around the eye including scalpel usage, suturing, and injectable local anesthetic usage
  • Prescribe oral medications including Schedules II (hydrocodone-combination products), III, IV, and V drugs
  • Prescribe oral steroids
  • Diagnose and treat glaucoma with topical and oral drugs
  • Co-manage post-operative care
  • Perform procedures such as foreign body removal, dilation and irrigation, punctal occlusion, and eyelash epilation

In New Mexico, optometrists CANNOT:

  • Perform cataract extractions, retinal surgery, or refractive surgery (such as LASIK)
  • Perform laser or non-laser injections into the posterior chamber of the eye to treat any macular or retinal disease
  • Perform anterior segment laser procedures including YAG capsulotomies, SLT, and LPIs
  • Administer general anesthesia
  • Administer IV medication