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Pennsylvania Expands Optometrists’ Scope of Practice

Patients ‘will have greater access to needed medications.’




Pennsylvania has become the latest state to expand optometrists’ scope of practice.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Oct. 29 signed an amendment to the state’s Optometric Practice and Licensure Act, according to the American Optometric Association. It “not only expands the ability of doctors of optometry to examine, diagnose and treat patients, but also gives the state board of optometry sole authority to set optometric formulary there.

“Patients, now seeing their eye doctors, will have greater access to needed medications,” the AOA reported.

“This legislation is a big win for optometry but, more importantly, for the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said David Evans, OD, president of the Pennsylvania Optometric Association, which led the push for expanded scope.

“The POA has actively been pursuing improvement in its scope of practice for the past 18 years,” AOA quoted Evans saying. “While other legislative victories have been achieved, our scope legislation has always faced fierce opposition.”

Some provisions of the amendent are:

  • Eliminating the need for the secretary of health to approve medications for inclusion on the optometric formulary.
  • Expanding the scope of optometric practice to allow medical treatment of all forms of glaucoma, including closed-angle glaucoma.
  • Permit optometrists to treat dry eye and allergies without the need to consult with a licensed physician after six weeks of continuous treatment.
  • Restoring the right of optometrists to prescribe codeine, hydrocodone and their various combinations has been restored.
  • Giving optometrists the right to administer epinephrine auto injectors for the treatment of anaphylaxis.

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