ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Maryland has modernized its optometric scope of practice, once among the most restrictive in the nation, amid state affiliates' all-out advocacy push to advance optometry's future-focused role in health care. The bipartisan legislation (House Bill 471/Senate Bill 447), the result of a six-year lobbying effort, was signed into law April 30 by Gov. Larry Hogan and is due to take effect March 1, 2020. It amends the state's optometric scope of practice to repeal certain provisions of law that required a therapeutically certified optometrist to refer certain patients to an ophthalmologist, and authorizes prescribing authority for topical agents and oral pharmaceuticals, with some exceptions, for the prevention, management or treatment of conditions and diseases of the eye and ocular adnexa, as well as expanding procedures and management of certain patients.

“On behalf of the Maryland Optometric Association (MOA) and Maryland optometrists, we are extremely excited to pass our scope expansion bill with a unanimous vote in the House and Senate,” Bryan Rogoff, OD, immediate past president and education chairperson for the MOA, told VMAIL. “It has been a long time awaiting and the MOA appreciates the hard work from the board of directors, executive director and membership of demonstrating the value of optometry in healthcare.”

Dr. Rogoff said the expansion includes independent management of open angle glaucomas, corneal and conjunctival foreign body removal, ordering labs, cultures and blood tests, and new Rx authority with topicals and orals medications.

Maryland last expanded its scope of practice in 2005.