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STATE | ASPS Opposes Optometric Scope Expansion Efforts

Since the beginning of the new 2018 legislative session, ASPS has engaged on measures in Illinois, Iowa, and Virginia that would expand the scope of practice for optometrists to varying degrees.

Proposed rules by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation would undermine the Illinois legislature's authority by unilaterally passing regulations that would allow optometrists to perform up to seven new types of surgical procedures and three types of injections. In response to these egregious efforts, ASPS worked with the Illinois Society of Plastic Surgeons (ISPS) and wrote to state regulators and legislators articulating reasons why this scope expansion is a threat to patient safety. The comment period for the Illinois proposal is now closed, and ASPS and ISPS await further word as to whether additional advocacy will be necessary.

Another piece of legislation in Virginia, Senate Bill 511, would have allowed an optometrist to perform surgery to treat styles, chalazia, or anterior segment lesions. In conjunction with the Virginia Society of Plastic Surgeons, ASPS wrote to the legislature highlighting patient safety concerns as well as educational disparities in optometric training. In thanks to efforts on the ground, the bill was favorably amended to only allow optometrists to treat chalazia with an injectable steroid.

Similarly, Iowa Senate File 347 would allow an optometrist to administer injections (excluding sub-Tenon, botulinum toxin, and retrobulbar injections) and perform surgical procedures that require the use of injectable anesthesia. This legislation has been introduced in past legislative sessions and we anticipate it to advance again in 2018. For now, the bill has not been voted out of committee and awaits further consideration.

In the last four years alone, 13 states have seen proposals that would allow optometrists to perform procedures that fall squarely outside of their education and training. Due to the pervasiveness of these scope expansion efforts, ASPS will continue battling these types of measures for the foreseeable future.