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State Grants Optometrists a Broader Scope of Practice

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The law takes effect Jan. 1.

SACRAMENTO, CA – California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill enabling optometrists to offer more procedures.

AB 443 goes into effect Jan. 1, according to a press release from the California Optometric Association, which championed the legislation.

The association explains that the bill:

  • Allows therapeutic pharmaceutical agent-certified (TPA) doctors of optometry to use all non-controlled substance medications, noninvasive medical devices and technology that are FDA indicated for a condition optometrists can treat. As new technologies are made available, the State Board of Optometry may authorize their use by optometrists via regulation.
  • Clarifies that optometrists may prescribe currently allowable drugs “off label.”
  • Allows TPA optometrists to prescribe Tramadol for up to three days.
  • Allows TPA optometrists to treat hypotrichosis (allowing optometrists to use LATISSE).
  • Clarifies that TPA optometrists may treat blepharitis.
  • Allows TPA optometrists to give intravenous injection for the purpose of performing ocular angiography under a supervision protocol.
  • Allows TPA optometrists to collect blood by skin puncture for testing patients for diabetes.
  • Allows TPA optometrists to use a skin test limited to the superficial layer of the skin to diagnose ocular allergies.
  • Allows TPA optometrists to use a needle to remove foreign bodies.
  • Allows glaucoma-certified optometrists to treat steroid-induced glaucoma.
  • Eliminates many of the protocols in current law and consolidates the referral requirements.
  • Allows TPA optometrists to administer flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines after receiving training and certification.

COA President Dr. Sage Hider said: “The California Optometric Association is proud to have opened the door to health for more Californians through AB 443. This important legislation is a step forward for the optometric profession, empowering doctors of optometry to more fully utilize our extensive training, education and experience to help expand eye and health care access to Californians. Improving such access is especially crucial for communities with lower incomes and those that are urban or geographically remote and face low numbers of primary care providers. AB 443 also strengthens optometrists’ role in California’s fight against diabetes, offering optometrists more tools to detect diabetes early, prevent blindness, and save lives.”

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The bill was authored by Assembly Member Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield).

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