Optometry Legislation and Scope of Practice in Florida

Have you ever thought of bringing your talents to Florida after graduation? If so, read this summary of important information regarding scope of practice, current laws and legislation in the Sunshine State:

Florida optometrists are allowed to:

  • Prescribe 14 oral drugs for eye care; these include analgesics/Schedule III, IV, and V  controlled substances as well as APAP with codeine and Tramadol, antibiotics, antivirals and glaucoma medications.
  • Deliver injectables for anaphylaxis only.
  • Co-manage post-operative care with codes that mirror those of federal guidelines.
  • Perform minor ‘surgical’ procedures including epilation, naso-lacrimal probing, punctal occlusion, superficial foreign body removal, and taking a culture.
  • Diagnose, treat and manage glaucoma with any topical medication and oral carbonic-anhydrase inhibitors for up to 72 hours.

In order to meet the requirements necessary to prescribe oral medications, Florida optometrists are required to complete a 20 hour online course and examination that is approved by the Florida Board of Optometry.

Florida optometrists are not allowed to:

  • Perform major surgical procedures that involve cutting, suturing, or use of a local or general anesthetic.
  • Prescribe Schedule I and II controlled substances, except Tylenol III and Tramadol.
  • Deliver injectables for eye disease or diagnostic testing, such as macular degeneration, fluorescein angiography, etc.

History of Legislation:

The most recent legislative victory was on April 22, 2013 when a decades-long “eyeballs war” between Florida optometrists and ophthalmologists ended with House Bill 239. This bill expanded optometrists’ scope of practice by allowing them to prescribe oral medications and, most importantly, improved healthcare delivery. Similar to other states, legislation is primarily obtained via grassroots efforts. HB 239 was no exception and is entirely credited to the dedication and hard work put forth by the Florida Optometric Association (FOA),  students at Nova Southeastern University – College of Optometry, optometrists, advocates and legislators across the state.

The future of optometry:

Nova’s very own Dr. Barry Frauens was just installed as President of the FOA, which means lobbying for new legislation won’t slow down any time soon. Florida’s optometric leaders will continue to educate legislators and gain support for bills that allow optometrists to practice what they’re trained to do.

Ways to get involved now:

  • Legislative Day in Tallahasee
  • FOA Convention in Boca Raton
  • Become an FOA Student Member (FREE) by filling out an online application at www.floridaeyes.org.
  • Contact FOSA for any questions or requests for more information (Yusra Quadri, FOSA President. Email: yusra@nova.edu)
  • AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.
  • Contact the AOSA at Nova local chapter for questions regarding their most recent project of connecting students with their State Associations of interest. E-mail: novasoutheastern.aosa@gmail.com

All in all, Florida has a lot more than perfect retirement weather to offer optometrists. What matters most is that legislative leaders have great plans to offer even more!

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