February 26, 2019 | POSTED BY | Organized Optometry, Scope of Practice
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Rhode Island: Scope of Practice in the Ocean State

The East coast of the United States is home to the small but mighty state of Rhode Island. Nestled in the southernmost part of New England, Rhode Island offers picturesque beach cottages, a bustling metropolitan area, and a rocky coastline dotted with New England mansions. This state is extremely diverse with 50% of its population being white, 16% black, 28% Latinx, and 6% Asian. As a result, the food, history, and education offered in Rhode Island is a beautiful mix of various cultures.

The capital of Providence is a large metropolitan city that is home to many cultural festivals throughout the year. Because a whopping 14% of the population is Italian, the city boasts a popular Little Italy district on Federal Hill and is home to several Italian festivals throughout the year. Providence has been featured in The Boston Globe, Travel & Leisure, as well as Vogue and the New York Times 2016 “52 Places to Go” list. Additionally, GQ has commended the city as a premiere destination for food and agriculture in the US.

Apart from its expansive diversity, the state of Rhode Island is also conveniently located 15-45 minutes away from any given beach. Providence, Rhode Island is also conveniently located 2.5-3 hours away from New York City and 1 hour from Boston by train, so it’s no wonder that it is a popular destination to settle down.

For optometrists, Rhode Island offers a fantastic scope of practice that allows physicians to practice to a large portion of their education. The bulk of Rhode Island’s scope expansion occurred in 2008 when the state won the right to prescribe oral medications to treat ocular conditions. Rhode Island also has eliminated pay parity between optometrists and ophthalmologists for performing the same procedures.

More recently, in 2014, the state passed legislation allowing optometrists to provide hydrocodone-containing medications to patients. These victories and many others would not have been successful without the hard work and dedication from the Rhode Island Optometric Association. As an active organization, this group has continued to fight on behalf of optometrists in the state to provide for optometric physicians.

Rhode Island optometrists CAN:

  • Prescribe any oral medications to diagnose and treat the visual system, including Schedule III medications.
  • 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
  • Prescribe and dispense spectacles and contact lenses
  • Provide and aid in care of ocular prosthetics
  • Order laboratory tests required for the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of a disease or condition related to the human eye

Rhode Island optometrists CANNOT:

  • Perform minor surgical procedures to correct ocular abnormalities, such as removal of “lumps and bumps” around the eye
  • Perform anterior segment laser procedures including YAG capsulotomy used to treat cloudy lens implants following cataract surgery, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT), and Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) used to treat some forms of glaucoma
  • Administer injections, including subcutaneous infiltrative, intralesional, intramuscular, intravenous, or subconjunctival routes
  • Perform posterior segment or retinal laser procedures

To learn more about scope of practice in your state, click here.