Proposed bills would expand scope for Texas optometrists

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Two bills filed in the Texas state House and Senate are proposing to allow optometrists to perform a wider scope of eye surgeries, according to a March 16 report from D Magazine.

House Bill 2340 and Senate Bill 993 would let optometrists perform procedures such as LASIK and manage complex glaucomas without physician collaboration. They could also prescribe some medications and do visual diagnostic studies. The bill would put regulation of medicine and surgery onto the Texas Optometry Board instead of the Texas Medical Board.

Advocates say rural communities without ophthalmologists would especially benefit from the legislation. They also argue the legislation could lower costs since optometrists bill less than ophthalmologists. In Texas, there were 1,670 ophthalmologists and more than 4,000 optometrists in 2019.

Critics say the bills could lead optometrists to perform procedures they aren't adequately trained for. When a similar bill was proposed in Vermont, the state's Office of Professional Regulation did a study that found expanding scope wouldn't lead to major patient savings.

Similar bills expanding optometrists' scopes were passed in Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

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