Profession

Okla. optometrists OK'd for surgery

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 4, 2005

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In March, the Oklahoma Board of Examiners in Optometry made permanent a rule permitting optometrists to do surgical procedures using scalpels, including the insertion of needles directly into the eye.

Unless the state's governor or Legislature move to stop the implementation of this rule within 45 days of the recent decision, the change in scope-of-practice regulations will become permanent, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. If this happens, the AAO is prepared to submit a bill asking for the rule to be repealed, an AAO spokeswoman said.

The optometry board says the rule only clarifies the minor surgical procedures they are already doing.

But Oklahoma's ophthalmologists, backed by the AAO, the AMA, the Oklahoma State Medical Assn. and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Assn., contend that the wording of the regulation is so broad that it could cover more than 100 surgical procedures.

Oklahoma's optometrists have had the authority to perform certain laser surgical procedures since the 1980s, according to the optometric board.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/04/04/prbf0404.htm.

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