State legislature expands optometrists’ services

State legislature expands optometrists’ services

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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – The state legislature passed Mississippi House Bill 1302 on March 17 and went into effect July 1 to lengthen optometrists’ medical procedures.

According to the bill, optometrists who pass the Board of Optometry can perform optometric YAG laser posterior capsulotomy procedures, minor surgical procedures and prescribe certain drugs.

Eyedok Medical Clinic’s owner Patricia O’Kelley said that these procedures are taught while in school, however, optometrists are still required to pass the board certification exam before getting certified.

“Many of us were taught were taught this in our optometry school,” said O’Kelley. “Within the past four months, we’ve put in hours for both in-person and online training. Last weekend, we traveled to the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis to take the board. I’m happy to say all four of our optometrists passed the board.”

O’Kelley explained that many of her patients come from rural areas and ask for laser services. She said that the clinic would often turn patients away since the staff was not certified.

O’Kelley said that patients would tend to complain since they have to travel far for services and the new law makes a difference for people in rural communities.

“At first, we would refer them to an ophthalmologist for those services,” said O’Kelley. “A lot of people in rural areas don’t have access to care. With this law, they have better access to local care instead of having to travel several miles to be treated.”

O’Kelley said that she is happy to legally help people improve their eyesight since it can easily decline, or leave if it’s not taken care of properly.

“Your eyesight is important, and it’s important for you to get it checked. We can often detect systemic disease just by looking at their eyes. I tell people that your eyesight won’t come back once it’s gone. So now we can diagnose, and potentially fix issues that we see,” said O’Kelley.

O’Kelly says more than 140 optometrists in the state took the certification exam.

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