Bill could expand services provided by optometrists in Miss.

Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 8:19 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - A bill passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives would allow optometrists in the state to perform more procedures and prescribe more medications.

Optometry is an occupation regulated by the state legislature, meaning optometrists can only perform procedures and prescribe medications the legislature designates.

“The optometrists have been seeking the ability to do more and more procedures and Mississippi has been fairly restrictive in what we’ve allowed them to do,” said Sen. Joey Fillingane, of District 41.

Officials say the push to pass House Bill 1302 stems from optometry regulations in surrounding states.

“This bill basically mirrors the Tennessee law, I understand,” Fillingane said.

Some optometrists agree.

“We’re just trying to get Mississippi law updated to the level of our neighbors,” said Dr. Ryan Wally, optometrist and partner at Oxford Eye Clinic & Optical.

He notes these procedures are not new to him.

“This is training that we receive in optometry school and it’s training that we would use to bring that access of care back to Mississippi,” Wally said.

Wally said the passage of the bill could positively impact Mississippians and limiting the services optometrists can give may make it more difficult on patients.

“This is going to bring better access to care for Mississippians,” Wally said. “Again, right now some of these procedures that we’re not allowed to do we have to refer out to our colleagues in ophthalmology. And many times, you know, it’s a bit of a travel or it’s even a bit of a wait. You know, even if they’re in the same town or county many times they have to wait an extended period of time to get these procedures done.”

House Bill 1302 now moves to the Senate.

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