Optometry Scope of Practice and Legislation in Illinois: Get Involved!

“Optometry is a legislated profession.” Every student has heard this from day one of optometry school, but what does it mean exactly? Optometry is legislated because what we can (and cannot) do is determined solely by law. Each state has their own set of rules for the regulation of optometry. Read below for the current scope of practice, laws and ongoing legislation in the Land of Lincoln (also known as the beautiful state of Illinois).

The practice of optometry in Illinois is defined to include, but not limited to, the following functions:

  • Prescribing and fitting of any ophthalmic lenses including contact lenses.
  • IllinoisRetinoscopy
  • Tonometry
  • Keratometry
  • Subjective lens testing
  • Phoria testing
  • Biomicroscopy
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Electronic or computerized examination techniques that utilize devices that perform any of the above functions.
  • Visual screening
  • Diagnosis and treatment of any ocular abnormality, disease or visual or muscular anomaly of the human eye or visual system.
  • Removal of foreign bodies from the eye and adnexa
  • Perform injections for anaphylaxis
  • Write orders for laboratory and hospital tests
  • Perform Advanced Optometric Procedures without the use of lasers after January 1, 2018.

Optometrists in Illinois currently CAN:


  • Schedule II (hydrocodone products only), III, IV, and V controlled substances
  • Anti-Infective orals and topicals
  • Anti-Glaucoma orals and topicals(except oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and may be prescribed only for 30 days as of January 1, 2017)
  • Anti-Inflammatory orals and topicals
  • Oral Steroid Agents in a quantity sufficient to provide treatment for up to 7 days as of January 1, 2017
  • Topical Anesthetic Agents
  • chiOver the Counter Agents
  • Analgesic Agents
  • Anti-Dry Eye Agents
  • Mydriatic Reversing Agents


  • Topical anesthetics
  • Mydriatics
  • Cycloplegics
  • Miotics

Optometrists in Illinois currently CANNOT:

  • Perform surgery
  • Use lasers
  • Give injections except for anaphylaxis
  • Prescribe schedule I and II controlled substances
  • Prescribe oral steroids
  • Prescribe oral pharmaceutical agents for children under 5 years of age, without consultation with a physician licensed to practice medicine

Advocate for the profession by joining your state organization and getting involved with the AOA/AOSA. These organizations help fight for our rights as optometrists! They hold Political Advocacy Committee (PAC) fundraisers to raise money for lobbying and help ensure we have a strong presence at the state and national levels.


The Illinois Optometric Association (IOA) is the organization in Illinois that helps optometrists fight for our rights, and continues to make great strides for growth in our profession. Currently, the IOA is working to defend their patients against on-line eye examinations. As optometrists, it is our job to ensure our patients are getting thorough eye examinations and quality care. It is uncertain if this will be the case with on-line examinations. The IOA is also busy defending contact lens uniform pricing that has recently occurred at the national level, which helps optometrists to see more of their contact lens patients by setting up minimum pricing for the lenses for all sellers. Some of the IOA’s recent accomplishments in state legislature include setting criteria for low vision driving, reducing licensing categories and fees, and public aid full OD utilization.

Paul Stauder, OD, IOA President says, “It is imperative that students be involved with state organizations. We need the students to understand that their state associations and the AOA are the only organizations that serve to protect and advance our profession. Getting students involved early lets them see how a state association works and why it is important to continue their memberships and stay involved.” As you can see, just as easily as these rights have been given to us they can be taken away. Student membership in the IOA is free so get involved and be a part of the growth of optometry today!

For more information on the current scope of practice in other states, check out other articles in our optometry legislative series! Click here for an infographic showing the scope of practice in all 50 states.

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