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  • California Governor Considers Optometric Surgery Bill

    The California Legislature passed a dangerous optometric surgery bill Aug. 31, placing patients at risk. It is currently being considered by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto on patients in the most-populous state. The passage of this bill may adversely affect the battle for public protections in ophthalmology scope of practice nationally.

    The last chance to stop AB 2236 from becoming law rests with Gov. Newsom.

    Contact Gov. Newsom now and tell him to veto AB 2236.

    The Academy and the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons worked together to generate over a thousand letters from our members and the public to legislators, warning them of the risks this bill would pose for patients. The American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, and the California Medical Association also participated in that effort.

    Academy CEO Stephen McLeod, MD, wrote an op-ed arguing that “Californians deserve far better than the substandard training and potentially dangerous care that would be allowed under AB 2236.”

    Unfortunately, the legislators chose to open their constituents to the risk of surgeries performed by someone who is not qualified to conduct the procedure. AB 2236 would allow optometrists to perform these complex eye surgeries with little to no training:

    • Scalpel eyelid surgeries to remove, destroy or drain lesions of the eyelid and adnexa when "clinically evaluated by the optometrist to be noncancerous"
    • Laser surgery (SLT, ALT, YAG capsulotomy and peripheral iridotomy)
    • Injections including subcutaneous, intramuscular and subconjunctival
    • Surgical corneal crosslinking

    The National Scope Battle

    The Academy will continue to work against this bill, even as we focus our attention on the threat it creates nationally. California’s vote could embolden other states in the West and nationally to follow its lead. And looming in the coming months is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Federal Supremacy Project — the development of new national standards for health care, which could expand optometric scope.

    What’s Next

    We will work with state ophthalmic societies and the entire house of medicine to meet these challenges head-on to educate legislators and the public on the dangers associated with legislating surgical privileges.

    Ophthalmology is most successful when Academy members engage with their state society in support of state and national candidates and forge personal relationships with legislators and their staff to explain the dangers legislated optometric surgery presents to their constituents.

    Academy advocacy requires dollars for patient success.  Please support the Academy in these efforts and donate to the Surgical Scope Fund and OPHTHPAC. Stay informed on efforts the Academy is taking to protect surgery by surgeons, at the state level, particularly regarding the VA’s proposal, and get involved.