West Virginia adds optometric surgical procedures

April 3, 2024
The state board’s legislative rule change, approved by the governor and effective immediately, expands Mountain State doctors’ scope of practice to include eyelid procedures.
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West Virginia approves optometric surgical procedures on and around the eyelid after the state regulatory board exercised its authority to modernize scope, commensurate with nationwide education. 

Effective immediately following Gov. Jim Justice’s signature, a legislative rule put forward by the West Virginia Board of Optometry authorizes doctors of optometry to remove, biopsy and treat non-malignant growths of the ocular adnexa not extending beyond the dermal layer of skin or mucus membranes. The regulatory move bolsters patients’ access to timely, quality optometric eye health care in a state where two-thirds of the population live in rural communities and face care shortages. 

“This scope expansion gives optometry one more opportunity to provide the highest level of care to West Virginians, often rural patients, without waiting months and months to receive these minor optometric procedures,” notes Chad Robinson, West Virginia Optometric Association executive director. 

Initiated as part of a year-long legislative rulemaking process, the scope amendment began in 2023 when the state board of optometry exercised its authority to promulgate rules for any procedure taught at 50% of accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. Despite attempts by optometry’s opponents to add as much as five pages of amendments, including an effort to include so-called ‘not-a-doctor' language concerning doctor and physician references, the rule received favorable support in the state’s legislature on the last day of session before receiving the governor’s signature weeks later. 

West Virginia’s scope amendment now authorizes its doctors to provide all optometric procedures short of the three optometric laser procedures. 

Read more about affiliates’ advocacy efforts in statehouses nationwide this year.

AOA, affiliates committed to advancing optometric care 

Launched in 2018, the AOA Future Practice Initiative is an operational partnership alongside affiliates that helps leverage advocacy strengths to challenge historic impediments to full-scope optometric care. That close collaboration continues to not only produce meaningful scope advancements nationwide but also keeps in check egregious, anti-competitive and anti-patient vision plan policies and other attempts to roll back optometric care. 

Central to these efforts are the AOA’s State Government Relations Committee (SGRC) Regional Advocacy Meetings, pivotal opportunities for grassroots advocates, affiliate leaders and volunteers to compare playbooks for statehouse advocacy strategies. Save the date for the 2024 SGRC Regional Advocacy Meetings: 

Affiliate advocacy teams are encouraged to join any one of the three regional meetings. Visit the event pages above for more information about joining these highly interactive meetings. 

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