PA 07-92—sHB 7159

Public Health Committee

AN ACT UPDATING THE SCOPE OF PRACTICE OF OPTOMETRY

SUMMARY: This act broadens the scope of practice of optometrists engaged in advanced optometric care by allowing them to remove superficial foreign bodies of the cornea. Prior law allowed them to only remove those bodies from the eye's outer layer (corneal epithelium) that had not perforated its second layer.

The act changes the conditions under which an optometrist must refer certain patients to an ophthalmologist. Finally, the act requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to adopt regulations on continuing education for optometrists.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007, except for the continuing education provision, which takes effect upon passage.

REFERRAL TO AN OPTOMETRIST

The act changes the conditions under which an optometrist or an optometrist engaged in advanced optometric care must refer certain patients to an ophthalmologist.

Prior law required an optometrist to refer a patient with iritis (inflammation of the iris) or a corneal ulcer to an ophthalmologist within 72 hours after beginning initial treatment unless there was documented substantial improvement in the patient's condition within that time. Under the act, a patient showing “improvement” within that period does not have to be referred.

Prior law required an optometrist practicing advanced optometric care and involved in nonsurgical treatment of glaucoma to refer to an ophthalmologist or other physician a glaucoma patient who (1) had intraocular pressure over 35; (2) had pediatric glaucoma, closed angle glaucoma, or secondary glaucoma; or (3) did not have documented substantial improvement in response to treatment.

The act instead requires referral only when the patient (1) has pediatric glaucoma or closed angle glaucoma or (2) does not “improve” in response to treatment.

CONTINUING EDUCATION

The act requires DPH to adopt regulations requiring optometrists to complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education during each registration period (12 months) for which a license is renewed.

Existing DPH regulations require optometrists to complete at least eight hours of post graduate study each year as a prerequisite for license renewal (Conn. Agencies Reg. , 20-128-8).

BACKGROUND

Advanced Optometric Care

The law recognizes a category of optometric practice known as “advanced optometric care. ” It allows optometrists a broader range of activities, including nonsurgical treatment of glaucoma patients. They must meet additional educational and testing requirements and be able to use certain drugs for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in order to practice advanced optometric care. There is no separate DPH license for advanced optometric care.

As of January 1, 2005, the law requires an individual applying for initial licensure as an optometrist to meet the requirements to practice advanced optometric care. It does not apply to optometrists licensed in the state before January 1, 2005.

Related Acts

PA 07-252, 79 makes a technical correction to the definition of “noninvasive procedure” by restoring 'treatment of iritis” to the definition which was inadvertently omitted in PA 07-92.

PA 07-252, 30 makes both substantive and technical changes to the requirements for optometrist licensure.

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