Friday, February 18, 2011

Bill passes in Ky. that would allow optometrists to perform more procedures; rural benefit or risk?

Backed by political money and arguments that rural areas need better access to more affordable eye care, the Kentucky legislature has sent Gov. Steve Beshear a bill that would significantly increase the care optometrists can provide, to a level available in few other states. UPDATE, Feb. 24: Beshear signed the bill.

Supporters say the legislation would make certain types of eye care more available in rural areas. Only 41 of Kentucky's 120 counties have ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors, according to optometrists, who are not, reports John Cheves for the Lexington Herald-Leader. (Read more)

Since it was filed Feb. 7, Senate Bill 110 has been cause for controversy, because of its speedy passage and optometrists' heavy contributions to lawmakers' campaigns. Tom Loftus of The Courier-Journal notes that optometrists have made more than $400,000 in campaign contributions to legislators and Beshear in the past two years. (Read more)

The bill allows optometrists, who do not attend medical school, to perform more types of procedures, most notably one that uses a laser to fix complications that can arise from cataract surgery. Only optometrists in Oklahoma are likewise allowed to use lasers while treating their patients, according to Kentucky Health News. In every other state, only ophthalmologists can. The bill also allows optometrists to prescribe certain drugs and lets the state Board of Optometric Examiners define what procedures optometrists can legally perform. Ophthalmologists argue the measure will put patients' sight in jeopardy.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Optometrists get a 4 year medical education that is specific to the eye. Medical Doctors get a 4 year medical education that is generalized to the whole body. Optometrists can also go on do residencies and fellowships in such things such as ocular disease and neuro-optometry. Optometrists are more than qualified to do these simple laser procedures.