Leave eye surgery to the surgeons. Vote NO to House Bill 1302, Senate Bill 2761, and Senate Bill 2763. 


Permitting optometrists to perform surgery poses a risk to patient safety
A recent report issued by the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) found after extensive and thorough research that optometrists did not have the education and training to safely perform advanced procedures, including injections and procedures with a laser, noting the “lack of evidence showing that optometric education prepares optometrists to perform these advanced procedures.” The OPR ultimately concluded that permitting optometrists to perform these procedures poses a risk to the public’s safety.


Expanding the scope of practice of optometrist will not increase access to care
The OPR also found there was “insufficient evidence showing a need for expanded access to care that can be addressed by expanding optometric scope of practice,” finding most ophthalmologists and optometrists, are located in the same places and in states where optometric scope expansion has occurred “few optometrists have chosen to perform these advanced procedures and those who do are located near ophthalmologists (typically near a population center).”


Patients need to know who their provider is – expanding the scope of practice of optometrists will further confuse patients
Furthermore, the OPR found the public is often confused regarding the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists and does not have the information necessary to make an informed choice between providers, stating “in this case, a move to expand the scope of optometric practice could actually create additional confusion for patients.”


Expanding the scope of practice of optometrists will not decrease costs
Finally, OPR studied whether expanding optometrist scope would reduce costs, concluding “there will be little, if any, cost savings associated with the expansion of the scope of practice.” OPR acknowledged there may be some minimal savings in the cost to see an additional provider, repeated exams and a patient’s travel time to see another provider. OPR stated, however, that “it’s not clear…that these costs savings are beneficial to the patient.” Furthermore, OPR focused on the fact that “some studies have shown optometrists sometimes refer patients for unnecessary advanced procedures and show significantly more repeated procedures when the initial procedure is performed by an optometrist.”


*For all of these reasons, OPR recommended “against expanding the optometrist scope of practice to include the proposed advanced procedures. At this time, the Office cannot conclude that optometrists have the education and training to safely provide these procedures. Nor can it find that there is a need for expanded access to the proposed advanced procedures or a reduction in costs associated with scope expansion.”