House passes bill to expand scope of optometric care in Mississippi
The Mississippi Senate passed a House bill that expanded the scope of practice for optometrists in the state, including the ability to prescribe certain medications and perform specific procedures.
Specifically, House Bill 1302 provides improved pharmaceutical authority that includes oral steroids; grants optometrists injectable authority; and allows for excision and removal of chalazion, removal of noncancerous growths in and around the eyelid, and laser capsulotomies.
“This bill improves access to care for Mississippians all across the state by allowing optometrists to practice closer to the level of their training,” Ryan Wally, OD, legislative chair for the Mississippi Optometric Association, told Primary Care Optometry News. “Mississippi optometrists practice in 72 of our state’s 82 counties and are the primary providers of eye care statewide. Updating our state law will allow us to continue to recruit the brightest and best optometry graduates back to our state.”
Wally said there was “fierce opposition” to this legislation, with many speaking out against this increase in access to care during multiple committee hearings, through lobbyists and through use of billboards around the Capitol building.
“Our state board of optometry will be responsible for credentialing any optometrist who would like to perform the procedures that are part of the bill’s amendments,” Wally said. “Optometrists will have to participate in at least 32 hours of coursework regarding the new procedures. Once completed, they will then have to take a written examination and clinical skills assessment administered by the board. Each OD will also be required to complete at least 8 hours of preceptorship with an ophthalmologist or optometrist licensed to perform these procedures.”
American Optometric Association President William T. Reynolds, OD, also spoke with Healio in continued support of the expansion of optometric care.
“Since the profession of optometry was first established, doctors have worked to advance patient care, and the pending legislation does just that — ensures that Mississippians have the best in care from America’s primary eye health care providers, doctors of optometry,” he said. “During the past 2 years, we have begun to see both states and the federal government begin to recognize that modernizing scope of practice laws for doctors of optometry is a critical way to protect America’s eye, vision and overall health, and AOA and affiliates will continue to advocate for progress in our laws.”