Louisiana to allow ODs to perform certain surgeries

May 23, 2014

The Lousisiana Legislature passed a bill last week that makes the state the third in the nation to allow optometrists to perform certain surgeries. The bill has gone on to Governor Bobby Jindal for his signature.

Baton Rouge, LA-The Lousisiana Legislature recently passed a bill that makes the state the third in the nation to allow optometrists to perform certain surgeries. The bill has gone on to Governor Bobby Jindal for his signature.

The bill does not provide a list of approved procedures, but rather lists procedures that are still off-limits to ODs, including:

• LASIK

• PRK

• Administration of general anesthesia

• Penetrating keratoplasty, corneal transplant, or lamellar keratoplasty

• Laser or nonlaser injection into the vitreous chamber of the eye to treat any macular or retinal disease

The bill also prohibits a number of nonlaser surgical procedures. (The rest of the list can be found under Section D of the bill)

Optometrists will be able to perform YAG laser capsulotomy, iridotomies, and selective laser trabeculoplasty, among other common procedures. James Sandefur, OD, excutive director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana, told Optometry Times the state’s ODs have been working to pass this bill for three years.

According to Dr. Sandefur, fewer than half of the parishes in LA have ophthalmologists, but nearly all parishes have an optometrist’s office. The new law will allow patients to have easier access to eye care, Dr. Sandefur says, especially for patients in rural areas.

“This will give patients a choice. Ophthalmologists have had a monopoly on these procedures. And this won’t prevent them from going to an ophthalmologist, but it gives them a choice,” says Dr. Sandefur.

Louisiana ODs will have to undergo further education and training established by the Louisiana State Board of Optometry Examiners in order to perform expanded therapeutic procedures.

“This will allow our young doctors to practice in the manner that they’ve been trained in school and for our older doctors to practice in modern, up-to-date manner,” says Dr. Sandefur.

The bill also allows optometrists to prescribe Schedule III drugs. 

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