Perspective

Arkansas scope of practice bill passes House, advances to Senate

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed a bill March 5 that would modernize the practice of optometry in the state.

HB1251, which passed with a vote of 70-19, allows for optometrists to perform injections, excluding intravenous or intraocular injections; incision and curettage of a chalazion; removal and biopsy of skin lesions with low risk of malignancy, excluding lesions involving the lid margin or nasal to the puncta; laser capsulotomy; and laser trabeculoplasty.

The bill would also require every optometrist who meets the requirements for certification to perform authorized laser procedures to report to the board of optometry about the outcome of the procedures performed in a format as required or directed by the board.

The legislation heads to the state Senate next week.

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed a bill March 5 that would modernize the practice of optometry in the state.

HB1251, which passed with a vote of 70-19, allows for optometrists to perform injections, excluding intravenous or intraocular injections; incision and curettage of a chalazion; removal and biopsy of skin lesions with low risk of malignancy, excluding lesions involving the lid margin or nasal to the puncta; laser capsulotomy; and laser trabeculoplasty.

The bill would also require every optometrist who meets the requirements for certification to perform authorized laser procedures to report to the board of optometry about the outcome of the procedures performed in a format as required or directed by the board.

The legislation heads to the state Senate next week.

    Perspective
    Belinda R. Starkey

    Belinda R. Starkey

    Members  of the Arkansas House of Representatives passed significant legislation surrounding overall eye health and increased access to care for patients. This is a problem that currently exists not only in our state, but across the country, as it has recently been recognized at the national level. Last year, HHS issued a public report with clear recommendations to increase patient access to care and assure new health care choices for the public. The report specifically outlined that doctors of optometry can provide the same services as other physicians and emphasized that "states should consider changes to their scope of practice statutes to allow all health care providers to practice to the top of their license, utilizing their full skill set."

    Representative Jon S. Eubanks (R-Paris) is the lead sponsor on the bill, which seeks to amend and modernize the practice of optometry in Arkansas. HB1251 is an advanced scope bill from the Arkansas Optometric Association that addresses injections, specific surgeries and laser procedures that will allow residents of Arkansas to have greater access to comprehensive eye care.

    In ongoing conversations with legislators, we appreciate the opportunity to provide the truth around what doctors of optometry are trained to do and we have the utmost confidence in scope expansion during this legislative session.

    • Belinda R. Starkey, OD
    • President, Arkansas Optometric Association

    Disclosures: Starkey is president of the Arkansas Optometric Association.