AOA supports and protects optometrists’, patients’ interests
DENVER – American Optometric Association executive director Jon Hymes told the House of Delegates here at Optometry’s Meeting that the association works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to deliver value to its members and have an impact.
Hymes outlined the group’s federal advocacy and public relations efforts over the past year relative to the FTC’s Contact Lens Rule, 1-800 CONTACTS, Opternative, Hubble Contacts, Think About Your Eyes, the solar eclipse and evidence-based practice guidelines.
He also showed a video detailing individual states’ legislative accomplishments.
Optometrists in Alaska passed legislation in July 2017 granting the state’s board of optometry autonomy to write regulations regarding advances in optometric education or technology. In the video, Alaska’s Paul Barney, OD, stressed the importance of developing relationships in your state. Ladd Nolin, OD, said board autonomy will provide greater access for patients in Alaska.
California’s new scope of practice law allows optometrists in the state to, “do anything FDA-approved to treat the eye,” California Optometric Association executive director Bill Howe said in the video. “The scope bill allows ODs to administer flu and pneumonia and shingles vaccinations,” he said. “This is the first in the nation.”
In May 2017, an expansion to Georgia’s scope of practice law authorizes optometrists to perform limited injections to areas near the eye.
“This is the future of optometry,” John Whitlow, OD, said in the video. “Graduates coming out of school will be able to practice to the greatest ability.”
Legislation passed in Kentucky, “will now give protection to consumers to safeguard their eye health to not allow online refraction to be equal to comprehensive eye examination,” Matt Burchett, OD, said in the video.
In South Carolina, “We were able to reinstitute the vision screening requirements to allow you to drive,” Michael Zolman, OD, said in the video.
John Coble, OD, of Texas, said in the video, “Advocacy is very important to our profession. It is important to have personal relationships with legislators; they are almost as important or more important as the money.”
“In state capitols nothing happens by chance,” Hymes said. “None of what I just shared is the result of good fortune.” – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO