Optometrists in Mississippi may be on the cusp of being able to administer local anesthesia in certain instances and perform a single type of laser procedure, pending a state House bill that is gaining steam.

Known as HB 1302, the proposed legislation improves access to care for Mississippians across the state by allowing optometrists to practice closer to the level of their training, says Ryan Wally, OD, Mississippi Optometric Association legislative chair.

Under HB 1302, optometrists would have improved pharmaceutical privileges including the ability to Rx oral steroids and use certain injectable agents, as well as the ability to excise and remove chalazia and non-cancerous growths in and around the eyelid.  

The bill also calls for a three-year pilot program that would give to 20 Mississippi ODs the ability to perform laser capsulotomies. The state board of optometry would report results from the pilot to the legislature annually for review, Dr. Wally explains.

  Mississippi optometrists practice in 72 of the state’s 82 counties and are the primary providers of eye care statewide.  

“Updating our state law will allow us to continue to recruit the brightest and best optometry graduates back to our state,” Dr. Wally says.

The bill passed the House on Feb. 3 and is now awaiting consideration in the state Senate.