Louisiana Governor Jindal Signs Law Permitting Optometrists to Perform Certain Surgeries

By

HB 1065 is signed into law: (l to r) OAL
past president, Chris Wroten, OD, Rep. J. Rogers Pope (author of HB 1065), Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senator
David Heitmeier, OD.


BATON ROUGE, La.— Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill No. 1065 enrolled into law on Sunday, June 1, 2014, allowing Louisiana optometrists to perform certain surgeries effective upon his signature.

The legislation permits optometrists in the state of Louisiana to perform “ophthalmic surgery . . . in which in vivo human tissue is injected, cut, burned, frozen, sutured, vaporized, coagulated, or photodisrupted by the use of surgical instrumentation, such as, but not limited to, a scalpel, cryoprobe, laser, electric cautery, or ionizing radiation.”

Among the surgeries permitted are “YAG laser capsulotomy, laser peripheral iridotomy, and laser trabeculoplasty.” Ophthalmic surgeries excluded from optometrists (except for preoperative and postoperative care), as specifically stated in the law, include “retina laser procedures . . . and any form of refractive surgery. . . . penetrating keratoplasty, corneal transplant, or lamellar keratoplaty. . . . The administration of general anesthesia. Surgery done with general anesthesia. Laser or nonlaser injection into the vitreous chamber of the eye to treat any macular or retinal disease.”

A number of other nonlaser surgical procedures are also not permitted. These include (but are not limited to), “Surgery requiring full thickness incision or excision of the cornea or sclera, other than paracentesis in an emergency situation requiring immediate reduction of the pressure inside the eye. Surgery requiring incision of the iris and ciliary body, including iris diathermy or cryotherapy. Surgery requiring incision of the vitreous. Surgery requiring incision of the retina. Surgical intraocular implants. Any surgical procedure that does not provide for the correction and relief of ocular abnormalities. Injection or incision into the eyeball.”

In addition, Louisiana optometrists are now required to “meet the educational and competence criteria established by the board in order to perform expanded therapeutic procedures. Evidence of proof of continuing competency shall be determined by the board.”

Coinciding with the Optometry Association of Louisiana’s (OAL) centennial anniversary in 2014, the new law “tremendously increases access to needed eyecare services for our citizens by adding a limited set of eyecare procedures to the list of minor surgical procedures which trusted doctors of optometry already provide in Louisiana,” according to a statement from the OAL. “In fact, every one of these new procedures has been safely and effectively provided for decades to tens of thousands of patients by doctors of optometry in other states.”