Abill to expand optometrists’ scope of practice in the state of California has been pulled. The bill, SB 492, was drastically amended and subsequently shelved by its sponsor, Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), following disagreements with state health care groups. 

After discussion with Sen. Hernandez, the California Optometric Association (COA) has decided not to move the bill forward, which was reduced to only authorizing ODs to give limited immunizations. 

“SB 492 was diminished to a state that would not have been beneficial for Californians seeking proper eye care,” says COA President John Rosten, OD. “We are grateful for the effort put forth by Sen. Hernandez and look forward to working with the legislature to pass meaningful scope of practice legislation next year.”

The goal is to allow optometrists to practice in a way that is more fully aligned with their education, training and experience, the COA says, and it believes legislators will be true to their word and open to genuine discourse next year. 

The original bill, which had also been put on the back burner last year, would have expanded the role of optometrists to diagnose and treat certain common systemic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. It would have also authorized ODs to use specified therapeutic pharmaceutical agents approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Additionally, the bill would remove limitations on the types of diagnostic tests an optometrist could order.