March 28, 2017
2 min read

Ga. House approves bill to allow ODs to give injections

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The Georgia House of Representatives approved legislation that would authorize optometrists in the state to perform limited injections to areas near the eye in a 121 to 36 vote on March 24.

If the bill becomes law, Georgia would join 15 states that allow optometrists to administer certain injections.

“We worked very diligently with members of the Georgia Optometric Association (GOA) to encourage them to contact their legislators to let them know the importance of this piece of legislation for their patients and for the access of care to their patients,” Bryan Markowitz, executive director of the GOA told Primary Care Optometry News.

SB 153 represents the fourth iteration of the legislation and permits a doctor of optometry to administer pharmaceutical agents related to the diagnosis or treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye and adnexa oculi by injection, except for Sub-tenon, retrobulbar, peribulbar, facial nerve block, subconjunctival anesthetic, dermal filler, intravenous, intramuscular, intraorbital nerve block, intraocular or botulinum toxin, under specified qualifications, according to the bill.

“We received a number of emails and calls from providers that were very supportive of the legislation in that they have seen many patients over the years who could have been more adequately treated by an optometrist,” Markowitz continued. “They thought that this type of legislation, if passed, would prevent the patient from having to get another appointment, one with an ophthalmologist, and rather enables the continuity of care with the optometrist.”

Optometrists must hold a current license or certificate of registration issued by the board and obtain a certificate showing successful completion of an injectables training program sponsored by a school or college of optometry credentialed by the U.S. State Department of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, consisting of a minimum of 30 hours approved by the board.

The pharmaceutical agents may include: nonnarcotic oral analgesics, hydrocodone administered orally and Schedule III and Schedule IV controlled substances that are oral analgesics, used for ocular pain and used for no longer than 72 hours without consultation with the patient’s physician.

Optometrists will also be permitted to use pharmaceutical agents related to the diagnosis or treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye and adnexa oculi except Schedule III and Schedule II controlled substances.

Medications delivered via injection into the lid often have fewer side effects than do oral medications, according to a press release from the GOA. New technology involving microneedles would improve the medical treatment of diseases such as glaucoma and corneal neovascularization, by providing a more accurate and successful delivery method, they wrote.

Markowitz said the group has been essential in providing information to legislators and it is continuing to work diligently on this bill to ensure it reaches Gov. Nathan Deal. – by Abigail Sutton