Tennessee Optometry: Wide Scope of Practice and Legislation

Optometry is a legislated profession, meaning that federal and state legislation dictate the current rules and regulations for optometrists. Thinking of practicing optometry in Tennessee? Fortunately, optometrists and the state association has worked hard to advocate for the profession and has made great strides so optometrists in the state can practice to the fullest extent possible.

Tennessee Optometrists CAN:

  1. Prescribe schedule II, III, IV, V drugs (including oral steroids, oral antivirals, and antifungals)
  2. Order imaging such as an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray
  3. Perform injections for treatment of chalazia, inflammation, infection, anaphylaxis, and lid lesions
  4. Perform scraping, debridement, and removal of corneal epithelium
  5. Diagnose and treat glaucoma
  6. Remove foreign bodies from the ocular region
  7. Perform dilation & irrigation
  8. Treat anterior & posterior uveitis
  9. Co-manage surgical patients with a medical physician

Tennessee Optometrists CANNOT:

  1. TAOP LogoPerform laser surgery, such as YAG, LASIK, and Radial Keratotomy

Who represents and advocates for optometry in Tennessee?

Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians (TAOP)

The mission of the TAOP is to“…promote the highest quality eye health and vision care for the residents of Tennessee; to advance the profession of optometry through education and advocacy; and to serve as the primary resource for public health information regarding eye health and vision care in Tennessee.”

ssTAOPRecent News:

If you attend Southern College of Optometry or are a practicing optometrist in the great state of Tennessee, you are likely aware of the positive changes that recently occurred in our state. With the passage of House Bill 555 and Senate Bill 220, Tennessee optometrists will legally be allowed to inject local anesthesia into a patient’s eyelid for the treatment of certain lesions. Prior to the passage of this legislation, optometrists were able to perform lid procedures only with the use of topical anesthetics. While the treatment scope has remained the same, this monumental change will result in increased comfort for our patients.

Currently, the state of Tennessee has one of the widest scopes of practice when compared to many others. Our ability to adequately serve the eye care needs of the people in our area is pivotal in our contribution to supporting a patient’s systemic needs. The scope of practice is very favorable and the TAOP is one of the strongest optometry organizations in the country. The future is bright for optometry in Tennessee!


As we should all know, 1-800 Contacts has issued legislation in many states that would eliminate recent Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP). The UPP set a price floor for contact lens sales, assuring that the consumer will pay a fair price provided from the manufacturer. This program helps to protect and maintain the eye health of the patient by ensuring that contact lenses remain a medical device and not just a simple commodity. As it stands, the legislation put forth by 1-800 Contacts fails to address the important healthcare needs of patients, and has significant negative implications for the eye health of the public.

How to Get Involved & Stay Informed

Attend the annual Day On The Hill in Nashville, TN. This is an opportunity to be introduced to the legislative process and meet the politicians who serve the state of Tennessee. Use the “Find My Legislator” tool and contact your local state legislators. Get active with the AOAAOSA, and TAOP – membership is free for students! Contact the TAOP Executive Director Gary Odom for additional information. Lastly, the AOA-PAC Congressional Advocacy Conference is quickly approaching and takes place April 12-14 in Washington, DC. Make plans to attend and advocate for your rights as a student and future optometrist!

What does your state allow? Our optometry legislative series has more information on the current scope of practice in other states, and this infographic allows for an easy comparison between the states.


Scroll to Top