American Optometric Association Urges Massachusetts Legislators to Increase Access to Important Eye Health and Vision Care

Contact: Deirdre Middleton
703.837.1347; dmiddleton@aoa.org

H. 1169/S. 1242 and H. 2463/S. 1190 Bring Eye Health Care Laws to National Standards; Eliminate Dated Restrictions

St. Louis, Missouri - (May 9, 2017) - To ensure that the more than six million people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have access to critical eye health and vision care, the American Optometric Association (AOA) calls on state legislators to support current optometric legislation working through the legislature. The bills, H. 1169/S. 1242 and H. 2463/S. 1190, will provide long overdue and much needed access to medical eye care for families around the Commonwealth, by eliminating the harmful and out of date restrictions on doctors of optometry and allowing optometrists to utilize their extensive medical training to treat their patients suffering from glaucoma.  

"AOA's priority is to advocate for our patients and their health. Optometric scope expansion will help patients gain critical access to care that is readily available but restrained due to outdated regulations," said Andrea P. Thau, O.D., AOA President.  

In recent letters to the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House, AOA noted that Massachusetts is out of the eye care mainstream. As one of the premier national organizations related to eye health and vision care, AOA has long been concerned that while 49 other states have modernized eye care service delivery to permit treatment of glaucoma by optometrists, Massachusetts has not. The letters state: "Massachusetts remains the lone jurisdiction in the United States to continually deny statutory privileges allowing glaucoma treatment by doctors of optometry. In Massachusetts alone, there are over 58,000 people who are diagnosed with glaucoma and it remains the second leading cause of blindness in the state, with expectations that this number will increase by 40% in the coming decade. Qualified doctors of optometry stand ready to deliver competent and critical eye care, which will minimize the devastating impact of permanent vision loss for these people."

About the AOA: The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.