Optometrists in New Mexico have reason to celebrate, as a bill expanding their scope of practice was recently signed into law by Gov. Susanna Martinez.
Provisions of the bill allow ODs to treat the eye and surrounding tissue with any medications, including oral steroids/immunosuppressives, anti-fungal medications, glaucoma agents, and some Schedule II controlled narcotic agents.
In addition to prescribing powers, the bill gives the board of optometry the “sole authority to determine what constitutes the practice of optometry in accordance with the provisions of the Optometry Act” and “sole jurisdiction to exercise any other powers and duties under that act.”
“This bill was about access to care for our patients, not just in rural areas but in urban areas where the wait to see a specialist can be months," Dr. Bobby Jarrell, president of the New Mexico Optometric Association and former chair of the American Optometric Association’s State Government Relations Committee, said in a press release. "Optometrists have the training to prescribe these medications and there is no reason our patients should be denied access to our ability to treat them appropriately in a timely manner. I think optometrists and ophthalmologists across the country are realizing that expanding optometric scope of practice makes sense in the interest of providing quality eye care.”
The law goes into effect July 1, 2015.