- Americans prefer Doctors of Optometry as their eye care expert nearly 2x more than MDs (ophthalmologists).
- The most-trusted source for reliable eye health information is a Doctor of Optometry - not an MD (ophthalmologist or primary care physician).
Access is the first boundary to health care. Optometrists are Idaho's most accessible eye care providers. In many counties, they are the only eye doctors.*
*Practice locations the IDAHO DIVISION OF OCCUPATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LICENSES
Adapting to Needs
4 years Undergraduate University
4 years DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY SCHOOL
of patients with eye diseases receive care and treatment during optometric training
hours of optometry education and supervised patient care before independently seeing patients
hours of ongoing education in a career after graduation from Doctor of Optometry school
years of national standardized testing to practice Optometry in Idaho
In Idaho, Doctors of Optometry already perform in-office eyelid surgical procedures
using scalpels and other instruments with zero complaints to the State Board of Optometry on any adverse outcomes in the over two decades these surgical procedures have been performed.
Every US Optometry school trains Doctors of Optometry to perform in-office laser and eyelid procedures. In other states, these procedures have been safely provided by optometrists since the 1990s.
Optometry and Ophthalmology both play a vital, coordinated role in modern eye care
Doctors of Optometry respect and work closely alongside Ophthalmologists to provide their patients the best possible eye care in Idaho.
Ophthalmologists provide a critical surgical role in LASIK, incisional glaucoma surgery, retinal surgery, eye muscle surgery, corneal transplants, and much much more. Patients are much better served when each discipline is able to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training.
Why do optometrists need states to legislate their profession?
Every state governs the privileges of its health care providers through licensing programs. For example, every optometry school trains its students but each state’s scope of practice differs. Typically, MDs try to limit the practice of optometrists, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health professionals.
A Professor of both Ophthalmology and Optometry's Perspective
Dr. Richard Castillo, OD, DO is both an Ophthalmologist and Optometrist. In this video he discusses the reasons why in-office laser and eyelid procedures are needed in Idaho!
Ophthalmologists have commonly tried to reduce patients' access to care by saying that only they can perform in-office eye laser procedures − even though Optometrists have been safely performing these procedures for decades in other states.
Ophthalmologists often claim that their training is superior to Doctors of Optometry and have tried to limit them from:
- Dilating pupils during an eye exam
- Fitting contact lenses
- Prescribing eye drops for pink eye or glaucoma
Imagine your Doctor of Optometry not being permitted to dilate pupils or treat pink eye, as MDs once opposed.
In 2024, the Idaho Legislature is considering legislation that allows Doctors of Optometry to practice to the scope of their education and training by allowing them to perform in-office laser procedures. Doctors of Optometry have been trained for and have performed these in-office procedures in other states for decades. It's time for Idaho to catch up, especially since more than half the counties in Idaho do not even have ophthalmologists, making it difficult to access care. With this legislation, optometrists will be better able to keep pace with evolving changes in healthcare and technology and provide more comprehensive care to patients in their communities.
- Doctors of Optometry have safely performed some in-office procedures for more than 20 years in other states
- This legislation does not include LASIK, cataract surgery or retina procedures
- Doctors of Optometry are trained to perform in-office surgery procedures in school and are certified by experts
- Doctors of Optometry in Idaho have been treating glaucoma and eyelid conditions for decades
- Doctors of Optometry have been managing and treating complications from these procedures for decades
Doctors of Optometry in other states have been performing in-office eye laser procedures for glaucoma and after-cataract care since the 1990s.
By expanding in-office laser procedures in Idaho within an optometrist's scope of training and education, Idahoans will have better access to the care they need.
Nationwide research comparing glaucoma in-office eye laser procedures shows...
13x more ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) make a patient repeat their laser procedure two additional times compared to when a Doctor of Optometry performs the same procedure.
Based on publicly available Medicare data.
Ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) that oppose the 2024 'Optometry Bill' will say:
Click each statement below to learn more
- Ophthalmologists will say that If an optometrist performs in-office eye laser procedures, the patient will require re-treatment 2.5 times
- Eye MDs will argue that only MDs have the training to perform in-office laser and eyelid procedures
- Ophthalmologists will argue there is no need to expand access for optometrists to perform in-office eye laser procedures
- Ophthalmology will argue that this new bill opens the door to hidden surgical procedures being performed by optometrists
- Eye MDs will argue that optometrists only take a weekend course to get certified for in-office eye laser procedures
One optometrist in Oklahoma performed more laser procedures than a group of ophthalmologists. MDs exploited that by writing a paper about it. However, MDs refused to look at the nationwide data because it showed 13x more Eye MDs required patients to have 3 procedures compared to when Doctors of Optometry perform the same.
Doctors of Optometry have been performing in‑office laser procedures since the 1990s. The argument that only MDs are supposed to perform these procedures ended more than two decades ago.
Every US Doctor of Optometry school in the USA teaches and trains optometrists for in‑office laser procedures. In addition, every Optometrist that qualifies to perform in‑office laser procedures has been certified by experts including by ophthalmology. It's time to update the Idaho Practice Act to the 21st century.
Doctors of Optometry have been performing in-office laser and in-office eyelid procedures for decades. Idaho is late to adopt such a law. Eye MDs published an article in 2018 that proved patients would have to drive nearly 2x further by limiting these in-office eye procedures to only ophthalmologists.*
The 'Optometry Bill' before the 2023 Idaho Legislature only allows specific in‑office laser procedures. These in‑office procedures DO NOT include major surgeries like cataract surgery, retina surgery, LASIK and more.
In-office laser procedure certification is a major endeavor. It requires:
- 4 years of Doctor of Optometry school
- Evaluation and management of thousands of patients
- Years of training in ocular disease and treatment
- Three board examinations
- Performance proficiency examination
Clearly this is impossible to accomplish in only one weekend.
100,000 and counting...
Optometrists in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Louisiana have performed over 100,000 in-office eye laser procedures* since 1998:
Only ONE reported negative outcome in nearly 40 years.
No increase in malpractice insurance rates.
Excellent record of safety and effectiveness.
Recent legislation allows optometrists in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, Mississippi, Arkansas, Indiana, and Virginia to perform in-office laser procedures.
Your optometrist is educated, trained and certified to perform safe, effective and efficient care!
*OK, KY, & LA Boards of Optometry 2021-2022