ATLANTA, Ga. (May 9, 2017) Georgia’s doctors of optometry today thanked Governor Nathan Deal for signing into law SB 153 (Brass, Mullis, Unterman, Ehrhart, Meadows), which will improve access to eye care treatment for patients and enable Georgia to continue to attract top-tier medical talent. The legislation, which allows doctors of optometry to perform certain types of injections in and around the eye, was approved this session by a vote of 30-21 in the Senate and by a vote of 121 to 36 in the House of Representatives.
The new law will join Georgia with more than 14 other states, including neighboring Tennessee, that authorize doctors of optometry to perform limited injections to areas near the eye.
“On behalf of my more than 700 colleagues serving communities throughout the state, I wish to thank Governor Deal and the members of the Georgia General Assembly for their willingness to listen to and work with us on this issue,” said Dr. Ben Casella, president of the Georgia Optometric Association. “We wish to especially thank House Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Earl Ehrhart, Senate Health Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis for their leadership.”
“This measure being signed into law supports our position that Georgia’s doctors of optometry are highly skilled, well-trained and experienced medical professionals who are working to give their patients access to much-needed eye care services,” Dr. Casella noted.
“As we stated during our various testimonies, as the training for doctors of optometry continues to increase to keep up with advancing technology, it is essential for state law to keep up as well,” continued Dr. Casella. “This new law makes that possible. The process of treatment via injection has been taught, both didactically and clinically, in colleges of optometry for many years.”
“Consumers in more than 14 states have access to doctors of optometry authorized to perform these procedures for which the doctors have received intensive training,” continued Dr. Casella. “Doctors of optometry graduating today may select where to practice based on their authorization to use the training they received during their extensive years of study. We proposed this legislation because we wanted to ensure that Georgia remains pro-business and continues to attract the brightest and best in the profession of optometry.”
Under the terms of the law, a credentialing system for doctors of optometry seeking to perform certain injections into the eyelid and mucus membrane of the eye will be established. While the process of treatment via injection has been taught in schools of optometry for many years, all doctors of optometry in Georgia seeking to offer this treatment will be required to receive additional training and a certification to perform injections with the training supervised by an ophthalmologist.
The law will increase patient access to treatment while simultaneously decreasing the cost to the patient. There are currently more than 1,000 practicing optometrists located throughout Georgia, while there are only about 350 ophthalmologists, according to the AOA Research and Information Center. The law will increase patient access to eye care treatment via injection and reduce the waiting time consumers may experience for such treatment.
According to representatives of the Southern College of Optometry, which has trained a large number of doctors of optometry practicing in Georgia, every graduate of SCO since 1995 has received injections training. Optometry students practice on each other during the first and second years of study when they are learning the principles of injection. During clinical training, which is done during the third and fourth years of study, students practice on patients. During continuing education studies, a day or two in duration, doctors of optometry conduct practice sessions on their fellow doctors.
Recent medical advances have resulted in some medications being administered via injection to treat styes, warts and cysts. Medications delivered via an injection into the lid often have fewer side effects than do oral medications. Researchers are working to introduce new technology involving the use of microneedles to treat glaucoma and corneal neovascularization. This technology would greatly improve the medical treatment of these diseases by providing a more accurate and successful delivery method to patients.
For more information about the Georgia Optometric Association or to find an optometrist near you please visit www.GOAeyes.com.