On July 14, 1904, the Georgia Optical Association (the forerunner of the Georgia Optometric Association) was formed under the leadership of President C. E. Folsom in Atlanta. The group immediately embarked upon an effort to obtain state recognition of the practice of optometry, which it received when legislation making Georgia the 38th state in the nation to gain legalized optometry was signed into law in 1916.
In the years following the signing of that law eye and vision care advanced rapidly. By 1924, the profession of optometry had been recognized nationwide. In addition, scientific instruments began to replace primitive trial frames and trial lenses which greatly increased the accuracy of the prescribed eyewear. This made the experience of having an eye examination more pleasant and productive for patients.
Optometry continued to grow in Georgia but saw a high level of national growth towards the end of World War II. The end of battle brought the passage of the GI Bill which had a direct impact on the profession. The GI Bill paid for the education of many discharged servicemen resulting in a tremendous surge of newly graduated optometrists coming to Georgia. Optometrists were now located in greater numbers throughout the entire state giving optometry greater influence than had ever had before.
Following this period of rapid growth, the GOA continued to remain a strong force in numbers as well as in politics. The association gained in both the size of its membership and influence at the Capitol. The GOA continued to move forward in attempts to bolster the association and the profession.
During its history the GOA has successfully lobbied for amplifications in the scope of practice, including:
Legislation signed into law that allowed optometrists to topically apply pharmaceutical agents to the eye for diagnostic purposes (1980).
Passage of a freedom of choice bill which mandated that all insurance types allow optometrists to provide eye care services.
Passage of legislation that gave optometrists the ability to treat patients with glaucoma with prescription medicines (1994).
Legislation signed into law that enabled optometrists to prescribe oral medications in order to provide the best treatment options for their patients (2007).
Legislation passed to allow optometrists to prescribe oral steroids and hydrocodone (2014)
Passage of legislation that would allow optometrists to enter into a corporate partnership with ophthalmologists (2015)
Legislation signed into law that allows optometrists to become certified to perform certain types of injections into the eye lid and subconjunctival layer of the eye. The law also allows ODs to prescribe ANY medication related to the diagnosis and treatment of the eye and adnexi oculi with the exception of Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances (2017)
The Georgia Optometric Association remains as strong as ever with over 700 members serving communities throughout the state of Georgia. We are committed to providing doctors of optometry in Georgia with the information and resources they need so they can provide the best care possible for their patients.
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