Say "NO" to Optometric Surgery

The Illinois Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons is committed to maintaining the quality and accessibility of medical and surgical eye care in our state.  Toward that end, we believe current state law should not be changed that requires surgical procedures in and around the eye to be performed only by qualified medical doctors -- ophthalmologists -- who have completed medical school and an ophthalmology residency.  Non-physicians, such as optometrists, have a place in the eye care delivery system. But that does not include performing surgical procedures or advanced medical care.

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Read Information about 2018 Status

Optometric education in no way is comparable to that of an ophthalmologist, especially where surgery is concerned.  
View this ISEPS video about the qualifications of ophthalmologists (click below).

Following is some background about this issue starting with the state legislature in 2016. . .

2016 Legislative Session - 99th General Assembly

  • HB 6166 and SB 2899 were introduced in February 2016. These bills ostensibly were the regular "sunset renewal" of the Optometric Practice Act, but in fact they would have removed the longstanding prohibition of optometrists performing surgical procedures.  The bills also would have added authority for optometrists to administer medications by injection in or around the eye.

End of the year 2016 update -- During the fall session of the legislature, a negotiated bill was considered and passed by the General Assembly.  SB 870 was the "vehicle."  The bill did not permit optometrists to perform any surgical procedure, and in fact only expands the optometry practice to lengthen the time allowed for prescription of Diamox and also adds oral steroids (for up to 7 days) to the list of drugs they are permitted to prescribe.  The bill also set up a "task force" with ophthalmology, the state medical society and optometry to discuss what educational standards would be required if optometrists were to be allowed to perform "advanced optometric procedures."  

The Task Force - 2017

The "Collaborative Optometry/Ophthalmological Task Force" was created to discuss that "advanced optometric procedures" might potentially be added to the optometry scope of practice and what educational standards would be required for an optometrist to receive authorization to perform those procedures.  Members of the task force were:

  • Illinois Optometric Association (Mike Horstman, former executive director)
  • Illinois College of Optometry (Vince Brandys OD)
  • Illinois Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons (Sohail Hasan MD, PhD)
  • Illinois State Medical Society (Erin O'Brien, Vice President, State Legislative Affairs)

The Task Force met monthly throughout 2017.  Although the ISEPS and ISMS representatives attempted to engage with optometry in a meaningful discussion about what, if any, "advanced optometric procedures should be considered, the effort failed to produce any useful conversation.  After several meetings, a faculty member from the Illinois College of Optometry came to two Task Force meetings and shared information about the ICO's curriculum, particular as it relates to injections and surgical procedures.  As a result of this information, it was quite obvious that optometry education does not include any sufficient training that would prepare an optometrist to perform any sort of eye surgery.

As required by the statute establishing the Task Force, ISEPS submitted at the August 2017 meeting a recommendation for what educational standards should be required for optometrists to receive certification to perform "advanced optometric procedures."  View the recommendations submitted by ISEPS as part of the Task Force deliberations:

2018 - IDFPR Proposed Rules

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has proposed rules that would expand the optometric scope of practice -- without enacting a law by the General Assembly -- to include seven surgical procedures and three different types of injections.

Take Action Now

  • DONATE to the Illinois Safe Surgery Fund and the Illinois Medical Eye-PAC
  • Contact your State Senator and State Representative
    • CLICK HERE to identify the members of the Illinois General Assembly who represent you at your home and your office(s).  Just enter your address(es)
    • Get contact information for members of the state legislature
    • Report your contact with a legislator - CLICK HERE
  • New! Visit the ISEPS Grassroots Action Center

Background Information

  • Read our position statement outlining ISEPS' objections concerning the original 2016 bills.
  • Review an information sheet describing training received by ophthalmologists - eye physicians & surgeons
  • This item documents the difficulty in diagnosing and treating "lumps and bumps" on the eyelid and the dangers of eyelid surgery
  • View a comparison of training between ophthalmologists and optometrists.

Letters from Concerned Organizations - 2016

Examples of Eye Surgery

Following is a video showing surgical treatment on the eyelid for "chalazion."  This is a condition that HB 6166 and SB 2899 would allow optometrists (who are not physicians) to perform.

Last Updated on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 10:18 AM