A bill that allows Louisiana optometrists to perform various ophthalmic surgery, including YAG laser capsulotomy and laser peripheral iridotomy, was recently signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Similar legislation was introduced last year, but never made it to the House floor. The current bill was tightly tailored and bans ODs from performing any procedures requiring stitches or general anesthesia. It also specifies that optometrists cannot perform refractive surgery.

In addition to broadening scope of care, the legislation expands ODs’ ability to prescribe schedule III drugs.

“Most important is that this will grant access and consumer choice to the people of Louisiana,” says James Sandefur, OD, executive director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana. “It’s an historic event for our profession.”

ODs will be required to successfully complete training. The bill further allows the Louisiana State Board of Optometry Examiners authority to issue licenses.

The controversial bill came under fire from ophthalmologists, but was supported by the Louisiana Primary Care Association, Rural Hospital Coalition, and the AARP.

In a statement, AARP spokesman Andrew Muhl said, “This increases health care access and consumer choice. States should allow and expect different professions to share overlapping scopes of practice.”