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State’s Optometrists Win Right to Perform Certain Surgical Procedures

Arkansas is the fourth state to permit laser procedures.

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The governor of Arkansas has signed into law a measure allowing optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures, Healio reports.

The operations 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.

Arkansas is the fourth state to permit laser procedures, according to the American Optometric Association. Alaska is currently developing regulations for their use.

Dr. Belinda R. Starkey, president of the Arkansas Optometric Association, said, “We’re very excited that the incredible effort of our ArOA members has been successful in passing our bill through both legislative chambers with overwhelming, bipartisan support.”

She added: “The most exciting aspect is that families across the state will have much greater access to comprehensive eye health and vision care with doctors of optometry being authorized to practice near the fullest extent of our training.”

According to AOA, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jon Eubanks, was introduced in January and initially encountered a speed bump in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. After amendment, the bill gained bipartisan support and swept through both the House (70 to 19) and Senate (25 to 8) before landing on Gov. Hutchison’s desk.

The law takes effect 90 days after the legislative session ends.

AOA notes that it is “a product of the concerted work and perseverance of Arkansas Optometric Association (ArOA) members with support through AOA’s Future Practice Initiative.”

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The bill calls 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.

It still prohibits doctors of optometry from performing cataract surgery, radial keratotomy surgery and selling prescription drugs.

Read more at the Healio

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