US state withdraws bill to permit optometrists to do surgery

Introduced in April, the bill had already passed the Louisiana House Committee on Health and Welfare, by a vote of 12-7 on April 17, but its scheduled vote by the Louisiana House of Representatives on April 24 was then postponed, as reported on 26 April. The bill will not be reintroduced for the present session, according to Dr James Sandefur, OD, executive director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana.”We’re sorry that the author decided to withdraw it and that we weren’t successful in bringing increased access to improved eye care to the people of Louisiana,” Dr Sandefur said.”We’ll have to do some thinking and determine what our course of action will be.”The bill would have given the Louisiana State Board of Optometry “the sole authority to determine what constitutes the practice of optometry and sole jurisdiction to exercise any other powers and duties.”House Bill 527 in Louisiana would have permitted optometrists (defined as an ‘optometric physician’) to do the following: Use diagnostic instruments utilising laser or ultrasound technology in the performance of primary eye care on the human eye or its adnexa in which in vivo human tissue is injected, cut, burned, frozen, sutures, vaporized, coagulated or photodisruptured by the use of surgical instrumentation such as, but not limited to a scalpel, cryoprobe, laser, electric cautery or ionising radiation.It defined ‘optometry’ as: “That practice in which a person ploys a primary eye care procedure including ophthalmic surgery, measures the powers and range of vision of the human eye using subjective or objective means, including the use of lenses and prisms before the eye and autorefractors or other automated testing devices to determine its accommodative and refractive state and general state of function, and the adaptation, sale and dispensing of frames and lenses in all their forms, including plano or zero power contact lenses, to overcome errors of refraction and restore as near as possible normal human vision, or for orthotic, prosthetic, therapeutic or cosmetic purposes with respect to contact lenses.”Optometry also includes the examination, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal conditions and pathology of the human eye and its adnexa, including the use or prescription of vision therapy, ocular exercises, rehabilitation therapy, ordering of appropriate diagnostic laboratory or imaging tests; the dispensing of samples to initiate treatment and the use or prescription of diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.”The bill would have permitted, in an ergency, the Louisiana state health officer to authorise therapeutically-licensed optometrists to administer inoculations for systic health reasons.It would have insisted that any therapeutically-licensed optometrist must meet the educational and competence criteria set forth by the Louisiana State Board of Optometry in order to perform expanded therapeutic procedures, with evidence of proof of continuing competence to be determined by the board.

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