Old Dominion optometrists scored a recent win with the signing of Senate Bill 511 into law, which expands their scope of practice to include limited injections of Schedule IV steroids for chalazia treatment. Previously, Virginia ODs could only prescribe a combined Schedule II controlled substance of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, and Schedules III and IV controlled substances and devices.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, requires optometrists in the state to be board and therapeutic-pharmaceutical-agent certified, and to have completed specific training requirements.

“The Virginia Optometric Association’s mission includes improving the vision care and health of the public,” says Virginia Optometric Association executive director, Bo Keeney. “The VOA has worked diligently to ensure that today’s optometrists are able to do so by practicing the fullest extent of their education and training. As today’s primary eye health care provider, it’s vital optometrists are able to evaluate, diagnose and treat their patients appropriately.” 

While the bill allows optometrists to better care for their patients by expanding Virginia ODs' scope of practice, Mr. Keeney also states, most importantly, this legislation clarifies the practice of optometry includes the evaluation, examination, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal or diseased conditions of the human eye and its adnexa using medically recognized and appropriate devices, procedures or technologies.

“Despite his initial objections, we were pleased to see that Governor Ralph Northam recognized the importance of this piece of legislation to increase quality patient care,” Mr. Keeney says.