House Bill 36, Enact Enhanced Access to Eye Care Act, is the first scope of practice bill, among several anticipated, to be filed this legislative session. The proposed legislation would open the door to allowing optometrists to perform laser surgeries on cataract and glaucoma patients, raising patient safety concerns. The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) along with the North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (NCSEPS) and other medical specialty groups oppose this bill and are working hard to educate legislators about the wide training differential between optometrists and ophthalmologists.
“In this legislative battle, the most important partner in our interaction with legislators is the NCMS,” wrote NCSEPS President Sara Stoneburner, MD, in a recent letter to NCMS President Paul R.G. Cunningham, MD.  “It is powerful to say, ‘the North Carolina Medical Society opposes this bill!’  Thank you for standing with us!  We appreciate your dedication to patient safety here in North Carolina. Thank you for joining us in this effort to maintain the high standards for surgical care and protect patient safety.”
Optometrists do not have the extensive training that ophthalmologists receive through their residency and fellowship programs to perform surgeries on the eye, a most delicate organ of the body. Significantly, 47 states do not let optometrists perform surgery. A study in one of the outlier states found that optometry patients were nearly 2.5 times as likely to require further eye surgery.
Watch your email for Action Alerts so you’ll know when to let your legislator know you oppose this unsafe expansion of optometrists’ scope of practice.