New legislation in Tennessee allows certified optometrists to inject local anesthetic in the eyelid to treat certain lesions.
The Tennessee Medical Association and Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology vigorously opposed the bills (HB 555 and SB 220), which ultimately passed in both the House and Senate and were swiftly signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

In a statement voicing the TAO’s opposition, President Mark Melson, MD, said, “performing surgical procedures requiring injectable anesthesia requires the highest level of surgical judgment and the ability to ensure patient safety. The optometry training model is not focused on providing practitioners with the necessary medical education and surgical skill set to provide safe and quality surgical care.”

Proponents argued that the legislation provides for greater patient convenience and care. Also, the bill does not expand the therapeutic scope of what ODs in Tennessee can do because they currently use topical anesthetics to perform procedures on the eye and eyelid.

“This legislation faced withering opposition with the legislators and general public of the state of Tennessee being fed copious amounts of untrue and misleading information by both individual and organized ophthalmology—state and national—and the Tennessee Medical Association,” says Jeff Foster, OD, chairman of the government relations committee for the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians.

Laser and Lid Legislation Introduced Again in Louisiana

A House bill (HB 1065) has been introduced in Louisiana that would allow ODs to perform certain laser and lid procedures.
According to James Sandefur, OD, executive director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana, the bill “grants access and consumer choice to the people of Louisiana.”

The same bill was defeated last year after the Louisiana State Medical Society and the Louisiana Ophthalmology Association teamed up in opposition, which they are poised to do again.