Optometrists in Maryland will be permitted to independently treat glaucoma, remove foreign bodies, order lab tests and prescribe all topical drugs and most orals upon completion of a 10-hour education course as a result of an update to the state’s optometry practice law.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed House Bill 471 and Senate Bill 447 into law on April 30. It goes into effect March 2020.
“It’s been a long and hard-fought battle,” Maryland Optometric Association (MOA) keyperson Fred Sirotkin, MD, Columbia Md., told Primary Care Optometry News. “Maryland is the only state where there are more MDs than ODs.
“Ophthalmology finally cooperated with us and co-wrote a bill that passed unanimously through the House and Senate, and the governor signed it,” he said. “A couple of ophthalmologists testified for us.”
Sirotkin said the law allows optometrists in the state to “use a lot of medications that we were prohibited from before, to treat primary open angle glaucoma independently and to remove foreign bodies with anything except a scalpel.
“It took away a lot of the paperwork and restrictions,” he continued. “We used to have to keep records of every patient we treated with medication, and we got random audits.”
Sirotkin added: “We were the only state where if someone had viral keratitis of the cornea, we couldn’t treat it; we had to refer. We can use a lot more orals. Before it was just doxycycline, tetracycline and minocycline. Now that’s expanded. We have reasonable education requirements to meet the new law.”
Sirotkin noted that the legislation passed in the house several times previously, “but we could never get it through the Senate.”
He credited MOA president Kevin Johnson, OD, and executive director Jennifer Cohen as instrumental to the success in the years-long battle to update the scope of practice. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO