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Virginia ODs Win Right to Perform Laser Eye Surgery

Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the bill into law on March 9.

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The operations are office-based procedures for glaucoma and post-cataract care, including yttrium aluminum garnet laser capsulotomy, selective laser trabeculoplasty and laser peripheral iridotomy, the American Optometric Association reports.

“Virginia doctors of optometry now have a progressive scope of practice law that allows our doctors to practice more fully to the extent of their training,” said Lisa Gontarek, OD, president of the Virginia Optometric Association. “This gives Virginians’ access to outstanding clinicians who can provide the majority of the eye care they need, and it’s especially beneficial for citizens in the more rural areas of our state.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the bill into law on March 9.

According to AOA:

Virginia has more than twice as many doctors of optometry as ophthalmologists, and an ophthalmology study found nearly half of Virginians needing these procedures live more than 30 minutes away from an ophthalmologist. Given optometry’s demonstrated record of safely, efficiently performing these procedures across eight states since the 1990s, optometry’s advocates emphasized the contemporary nature of these procedures as taught by schools and colleges of optometry.

In fact, Virginia’s scope expansion builds upon the nearly 10,000 hours of clinical education and training provided to doctors at these institutions. Such is the case; Virginia will require doctors of optometry to obtain certification from an accredited college of optometry with didactic and hands-on training before performing the three laser procedures. Additionally, certified doctors must abide by regulations and requirements yet promulgated by the state board.

“This now positions Virginia as one of the states with the most expansive practice acts in the country,” said Jerry Neidigh, OD, legislative chair for the Virginia Optometric Association.

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