January 5, 2019 | POSTED BY | News, Organized Optometry, Scope of Practice
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Wyoming: The Cowboy State

The great plains of Wyoming are as remote as they are vast. With a total population under 600,000 people, Wyoming is the least-populated state in the US. For healthcare providers, this means many patients must travel great distances to seek out medical care. Additionally, patients who are unable to make the journey to see a doctor may only choose to see their optometrist for an updated glasses prescription.

As eye care physicians, we have a crucial public health role in the state of Wyoming to monitor for systemic diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, that may manifest with ocular pathology. It is our responsibility to intervene during eye examinations and refer our patients to their primary care doctors or specialists when needed. It is imperative to use the one-on-one time in the exam room to reiterate the importance of regular comprehensive medical evaluations in order to help promote public health.

Wyoming’s capital is Cheyenne, with a total population just under 60,000 people. Other larger towns include Jackson, Casper, and Laramie, which is home to University of Wyoming. For doctors looking to work with Indian Health Services, many of the Arapahoe and Shoshone tribes live on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Travelers worldwide also flock to the state each year to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

The Capitol Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Because of the need for eyecare in Wyoming, scope of practice expansion is necessary. At present, Wyoming considers optometry as “furnishing or providing a contact or ophthalmic lens prescription.” As a dated piece of legislation, this current statute does not give credence to the extensive medical training contemporary ODs have in treating the visual system. Luckily the Wyoming Optometric Association (WOA) is working to protect doctors’ rights and patients’ vision.

Wyoming optometrists CAN:

  • Prescribe oral medications such as antibiotics and schedules III through V controlled substances.
  • Diagnose and treat glaucoma with topical 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
  • Prescribe or administer orthoptic therapy (vision therapy)

Wyoming optometrists CANNOT:

  • Prescribe immunosuppressives, steroids, anti-fungals, sedative-hypnotics, or schedule I and II narcotics
  • Treat glaucoma with oral medication for more than 48 hours
  • 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 medications, including anesthetics, by injection, including subcutaneous infiltrative, intralesional, intramuscular, intravenous, and subconjunctival routes
  • Laser or non-laser injection into the posterior chamber of the eye to treat any macular or retinal disease

If you are interested in practicing in Wyoming, membership in the Wyoming Optometric Association is crucial. You can help save vision and promote public health by defending your rights as an optometrist. For more information about scope of practice in the United States, click here.