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Trusted Eye Care

Doctors of Optometry are the primary eye care providers in Ohio, providing more eye health and vision examinations than any other profession. Ohioans look to Doctors of Optometry for their eye care treatment and advice.

SB129 Primary Eye Care Modernization Bill

Optometry’s first proposal to adjust its scope of practice in 15 years; a bill designed to better serve patients in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.


Download SB129 Infographic

The Modernization of Optometry’s Scope of Practice in SB 129 is a Crucial Health Care Workforce Issue

  • Optometrists graduating from the OSU College of Optometry are leaving Ohio to practice in other states that already permit them to practice at a higher level reflective of their advanced education and training they are already receiving in Ohio. 
  • Graduates are often citing Ohio’s restrictive scope of practice as a primary factor in why they choose to leave our state for increased practice opportunities in our surrounding states that better allow them to practice at a higher professional level.
  • 71% of graduating optometrists report that a state’s scope of practice is a factor in determining where to practice and we have recently seen this impact recruiting of the “best and brightest” from Ohio and around the country to come to Ohio State.
  • SB 129 is crucially important for patients.  Ohio needs a modernized, trained primary vision care workforce to continue to treat Ohio’s rapidly aging population.  We cannot allow our OD’s to go to other states and leave patients unserved or facing unnecessary delays in care.
  • SB 129 is a measured, common-sense approach to improving access and care for Ohio patients.  For Ohio to continue to be “Open for Business” for patients needing vision care and compete against other surrounding states, SB 129 is a very important tool in our state’s continuing efforts to provide a modernized, educated workforce.

Optometric Education and Clinical Practice

Optometrists (OD) receive over 10,000 hours of education and training focused solely on the eye and the visual health system. They obtain more than 100 class hours in pharmacology, equal to that of physicians and dentists. Once in practice, Ohio ODs are required to receive at least 50 hours of continuing education courses every two years.
8 years

4 years Undergraduate University
plus
4 years post-graduate education earning a doctorate of optometry many also complete residency programs

1000s

of patients with eye diseases receive care and treatment during optometric training

~10,000

hours of optometry education and supervised patient care before independently seeing patients 

1000+

hours of ongoing education in a career after graduation from Doctor of Optometry school

+

Optometry School includes extensive training in

  • Medical eye health services
  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases
  • Prescription medical devices and medications
  • Pre- and post-operative care

 


The Ohio General Assembly is currently considering important legislation to Ohio vision care patients that would simply allow Doctors of Optometry to, in a measured, common-sense manner, modernize their scope of practice to reflect the extensive training and education they are receiving.  Senate Bill 129, sponsored by Senator Jerry Cirino, will allow Ohio’s optometrists to provide crucial patient care procedures, such as in-office laser and eyelid procedures, that they are educated and trained to do to better provide access to care and remove unnecessary delays in the provision of that care.

Doctors of Optometry have been trained for and have performed these in-office procedures in other states for decades.  In Ohio, at the Ohio State College of Optometry, students have been trained and educated on these procedures and at the highest levels of training since 2012.  Yet, Ohio’s current restrictive scope of practice for our primary vision care doctors makes Ohio increasingly uncompetitive with our surrounding states.  SB 129 will allow Ohio to maintain a strong workforce by keeping optometrists in Ohio while simply allowing our doctors to better be able to keep pace with evolving changes in healthcare and technology and provide more comprehensive care to patients within their communities.  SB 129 always has been and will continue to be about our patients.

Ohio optometrists already have a very high rate of participation treating Medicaid patients. The State of Ohio is already partnering with Optometry for its statewide Children’s Vision Initiative included in the 2024 Budget, and through the ResultsOHIO program in Appalachian Ohio, iSee with Vision To Learn. Optometrists are the primary vision care providers in the state and trusted by the legislature to provide better access to care for the state’s patients.

SB129 FACTS

  • SB129 is Optometry’s first proposal to adjust its scope of practice in 15 years and is designed to better serve patients in an ever-changing healthcare landscape
  • Doctors of Optometry have been safely performing the procedures included in SB129 for over 20 years in other states
  • Doctors of Optometry are trained to perform in-office surgery procedures in school and are certified by experts
  • Doctors of Optometry in Ohio have been treating glaucoma and eyelid conditions for decades
  • Doctors of Optometry have already been managing and treating complications from the procedures included in SB129 for decades

Doctors of Optometry in other states have been performing in-office eye laser procedures for glaucoma and after-cataract care as well as in-office eyelid procedures for styes and other conditions since the 1990s.

 

By expanding in-office laser and eyelid procedures in Ohio within an optometrist's scope of training and education, Ohioans will have better access to the care they need.


Dispelling Mistruths: 

The opposition, including Ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), will say:

Click each statement below to learn more


  • The Truth

    SB129 language only allows specific in‑office laser and eyelid procedures. These in‑office procedures DO NOT include major surgeries like cataract surgery, retina surgery, LASIK and more.

  • The Truth

    Doctors of Optometry have been performing in‑office laser and in-office eyelid procedures since the 1990s. The argument that only MDs are supposed to perform these procedures ended more than two decades ago. 

    Every US Doctor of Optometry school in the USA teaches and trains optometrists for in‑office laser and in-office eyelid procedures. In addition, every Optometrist that qualifies to perform in‑office laser and in-office eyelid surgery procedures has been certified by experts including by ophthalmology.  It's time to update the Ohio Practice Act to the 21st century. 

  • The Truth

    Doctors of Optometry have been performing in-office laser and in-office eyelid procedures for decades. Ohio is late to adopt such a law. Ophthalmologists published an article in 2018 that proved patients would have to drive nearly 2x further by limiting these in-office eye procedures to only ophthalmologists.*

    JAMA Ophthalmology 2018
  • The Truth

    In-office laser and in-office eyelid procedure certification is a major endeavor. It requires:

    • 4 years of Doctor of Optometry school
    • Evaluation and management of thousands of patients
    • Years of training in ocular disease and treatment
    • Three board examinations
    • Performance proficiency examination

    Clearly this is impossible to accomplish in only one weekend.

  • The Truth

    MDs in Ohio have fought against the ability of Doctors of Optometry to care for their patients since the 1980s. In that time, MDs have tried to stop Optometrists from:

    • Dilating patient’s pupils.
    • Prescribing eye drops for pink eye and glaucoma.
    • Prescribing oral medication for eye infections and inflammation.
    • Performing in-office procedures to treat eye infections, inflammation and other conditions.

    MDs try to convince the public and legislators that their care is the only one that should allow these medical procedures despite there being zero evidence of ill-effects of optometric care over the past four decades. The entire Optometry profession has been built upon personal eye health and vision care for the betterment of society. This is why the public prefers Optometrists for their personalized eye health care.

  • The Truth

    This mistruth can be traced back to Oklahoma and a situation in which one optometrist had performed more laser procedures than a full practice of multiple ophthalmologists in the area. Opposition MDs used this information without context, writing a paper that suggested the optometrist performed more procedures because they had to repeat a procedure multiple times on the same patient. This was not the case, but without context, the MDs were able to exploit the information.

    In fact, nationwide data shows that 13x more Ophthalmologists required patients to have three procedures compared to similar situations when the procedures were performed by Doctors of Optometry.

Ohio Optometrists have changed their scope of practice several times over the past 40 years to keep their patient care up to the standards of the doctor's education, ability and training.  The experience of Ohio Doctors of Optometry over the past 40 years shows their incredible track record of neighborhood patient care and trust within the legislative community.  

Proven Success

Nationally, Doctors of Optometry already
perform in-office laser and in-office eyelid procedures

to treat glaucoma, after-cataract surgery care, eyelid styes and more.  While optometrists are the trusted professionals for the majority of eye care patients in the United States, you still need an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) to perform cataract surgery, LASIK, retina surgery and more.

Every US Optometry school trains Doctors of Optometry to perform in-office laser and eyelid procedures. In other states, these procedures have been safely provided by optometrists since the 1990s.

Ophthalmologists have commonly tried to reduce patients' access to care by saying that only they can perform in-office eye laser procedures − even though Optometrists have been safely performing these procedures for decades in other states.

Ophthalmologists often claim that their training is superior to Doctors of Optometry and have tried to limit them from:

  • Dilating pupils during an eye exam
  • Fitting contact lenses
  • Prescribing eye drops for pink eye or glaucoma

Imagine your Doctor of Optometry not being permitted to dilate pupils or treat pink eye, as MDs once opposed.

A Professor of both Ophthalmology and Optometry's Perspective

Dr. Richard Castillo, OD, DO is both an Ophthalmologist and Optometrist.  In this video he discusses the reasons why in-office laser and eyelid procedures are needed in Ohio!

Chapters:

OHIO MEDIA UPDATES

SB129 Evidenced Based Info

DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

Understanding Access to Eye Care and the Need for Scope Modernization in Ohio

By Dr. Tim Fries, OOA Secretary-Treasurer

Ohio State Curriculum Supports the Growing Optometric Scope of Practice

By Dr. Greg Nixon

Optometry and Ophthalmology play a vital, coordinated role in modern eye care

Doctors of Optometry respect and work closely alongside Ophthalmologists to provide their patients the best possible eye care in Ohio.

Ophthalmologists provide a critical surgical role in LASIK, incisional glaucoma surgery, retinal surgery, eye muscle surgery, corneal transplants, and much much more. Patients are much better served when each discipline is able to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training. 

teamwork

100,000 and counting...

Optometrists in 11 other states have performed over 100,000 in-office eye laser procedures* since 1998:

  • Zero unexpected complications.
  • Proven track record with optometry education, training and certification.

Your optometrist is educated, trained and certified to perform safe, effective and efficient care!

*data from 2021-2022 public record of state boards

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If you would like more information about the 'Modernizing Optometry Bill' or general eye care information, please reach out to us