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Effort to Undo State’s New Optometry Law Fails

But an appeal could be on the way.




An effort to hold a referendum on a new Arkansas law expanding the privileges of optometrists has failed.

To get the issue on the November 2020 ballot, referendum supporters needed about 53,500 signatures from registered voters, The Associated Press reported. Secretary of State John Thurston said they turned in 23,953.

More than 84,000 signatures were submitted, but supporters of the law said many weren’t valid because proper documents weren’t filed.

The legislation, signed into law in March, permits optometrists to perform certain surgeries.

Safe Surgery Arkansas, a group of medical doctors, hoped to use a ballot referendum to roll back the legislation. And the group is ready to challenge in court the rejection of the petition.

Alex Gray, an attorney for the group, was quoted saying: “This issue is too important for special interests to get in the way of the right of the people to vote for safer eye surgery.”


Procedures that the legislation allows optometrists to perform include selective laser trabeculoplasty and Nd:YAG laser procedures, along with injections (excluding intravenous and intraocular), removal of lid lesions and chalazion incision and curettage.

The bill called on the Arkansas Board of Optometry to establish credentialing requirements for optometrists to perform these laser procedures, as well as require those doctors to report the outcomes of their procedures to the board.

Read more at The Associated Press

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