Ophthalmology vs Optometry Scope of Practice Battles Continue to Unfold in State Legislatures Across the Country

February 22, 2023 10:12 AM | Becca Liebers

With Wisconsin ophthalmologists facing a potential scope battle during the 2023-24 legislative session – as optometrists appear committed to expand their scope of services to include laser surgery – the WAO Government Affairs Team is keeping a close eye on Ophthalmology vs Optometry scope battles playing out in other states.

There are numerous states that have already expanded their optometric scope of practice laws to specifically include certain office-based laser procedures for glaucoma and post-cataract care. In addition, there are efforts currently underway in other states to pass similar optometric “scope creep” laws. Please find below a brief snapshot of what is happening with this growing threat to medical eye care across the country:

  • South Dakota – The South Dakota Senate recently passed legislation (SB 87) – on a 26-9 vote – that would expand the  optometry practice scope in the state. More specifically, the legislation would authorize optometrists to perform laser surgery, including capsulotomy, peripheral iridotomy, selective laser trabeculoplasty, and corneal crosslinking. It would also allow ODs to administer injections around the eye, remove lid lesions, use a local anesthetic for lesion removal, and prescribe pharmaceutical agents. The bill is now under further consideration in the South Dakota House.
  • Washington – In the state of Washington, a key senate committee recently passed legislation (SB 5389) that would authorize ODs to remove lumps and bumps from the eyelids, prescribe oral steroids, administer injections around the eye, and perform laser surgeries such as YAG capsulotomy and selective laser trabeculoplasty.
  • Nebraska – A bill (LB 216) has been introduced and heard by a key committee in the Nebraska Legislature that would allow optometrists to perform selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) for the treatment of glaucoma.

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