October 30, 2018 | POSTED BY | Organized Optometry, Scope of Practice
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Vermont: Freedom and Unity

For future physicians who enjoy sailing, hiking, and snowboarding, Vermont is an oasis surrounded by lush green mountains and expansive valleys, which continue to attract tourists when the leaves change in the fall. Larger towns like Burlington and Montpelier are home to the University of Vermont and the state capital, respectively. The lifestyle in Vermont is one-of-a-kind and provides a unique culture that supports local businesses and keeps private practice eye doctors busy.

Dr. Dean Barcelow, OD, currently owns two practices in Vermont, is the chair of the legislative committee, and was president of the Vermont Optometric Association for the last two years. He has had a prominent role in passing state legislation benefiting the optometric community. According to Dr. Barcelow, some of the draws of Vermont include the great scope of practice to include full prescribing privileges and minimal limitation on procedures, unlike its neighboring states of Massachusetts and New York. Moreover, he claims the state boasts a bit of every lifestyle including the great outdoors, historic small towns, and larger metropolitan areas. 

Dr. Barcelow, a PCO graduate, has been part of a large optometric family including his sister, father, and grandfather, who are all optometrists in the state. Dr. Barcelow reminisces on how far eye care has changed since his grandfather was in optometry school and hopes to continue to play an integral role in its advancement. In looking towards the future of optometric medicine in Vermont, Dr. Barcelow and his colleagues are ready to fight for changes. “Scope is currently not reflective of what’s being taught in schools,” he claims. “We are working on adjusting to make that better with injections, lumps & bumps, and lasers rights.”

The Vermont Optometric Association has recently helped pass strong legislation for optometrists including a lab choice bill in 2016 which prevented a vision insurance provider from requiring a the use of a specific eyeglass lab. Additionally, in 2014 a Pay Parity Bill passed allowing ODs and OMDs to be paid the same amount for performing the same procedures.

The VOA has worked tirelessly to help provide for eye care physicians within the state. As a result:

Optometrists in Vermont CAN:

  • Prescribe and dispense glasses and contact lenses
  • Prescribe oral medications, including Schedule II (hydrocodone-combination products), III, IV, and V drugs
  • Prescribe oral steroids, antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals
  • Diagnose and treat glaucoma with topical and oral drugs
  • Co-manage post-op care
  • Perform procedures such as foreign body removal, dilation and irrigation, punctal occlusion, and eyelash epilation

Optometrists in Vermont CANNOT:

  • Perform minor surgical procedures to correct ocular abnormalities, such as removal of “lumps and bumps” around the eye
  • Administer medications, including anesthetics, by injection, including subcutaneous infiltrative, intralesional, intramuscular, intravenous, and subconjunctival routes
  • 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)
  • Perform cataract extractions, retinal surgery, or refractive surgery (such as LASIK)
  • Laser or nonlaser injection into the poster pole

For more information about scope of practice in your state, click here. If you are interested in getting involved with the VOA, check out their website by clicking here.

For more of our scope of practice series, click here.