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Trusted Eye Care

Doctors of Optometry are the primary eye care providers in New Hampshire, providing more eye health and vision examinations than any other profession. New Hampshire citizens look to Doctors of Optometry for their eye care treatment and advice.

Survey says...

  1. Americans prefer Doctors of Optometry as their eye care expert nearly 2x more than MDs (ophthalmologists).
  2. The most-trusted source for reliable eye health information is a Doctor of Optometry - not an MD (ophthalmologist or primary care physician).
(American Eye-Q Survey, Results published Jan 2019)

Every day...

Doctors of Optometry use a microscope to diagnose over 270 systemic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases, cancers and more. This is the very same microscope used for in-office laser procedures.

In all 50 states, Doctors of Optometry independently prescribe topical and oral medications, order labs and imaging, perform in-office minor surgical procedures, diagnose and treat ocular diseases and emergencies, take after-hours calls, and dictate the treatment and management of their patients.

Educational Excellence

All optometric colleges and universities across the nation teach advanced procedures through intensive, hands-on clinical experience.
  • Specialty training with a human body systems approach

  • Standards are continuously improved and upgraded to match new treatments as they arise.

  • Solid national board certification system, uniform training, and a strong independent accreditation agency and state licensure systems.

8 years

4 years Undergraduate University
plus
4 years DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY SCHOOL

1000s

of patients with eye diseases receiving care and individual treatment plans while the optometrist was in school

~10,000

hours of optometry education and patient care before independently seeing patients

2000

hours of ongoing education after graduation from Doctor of Optometry school

Certified

in laser treatment procedures, in‑office surgical care, and more

Proven Success

Doctors of Optometry have 
performed in-office eye laser and eyelid procedures across the country since 1988

100,000 procedures and counting...

with safe and effective outcomes

Zero unexpected complications

No increase in malpractice rates

*data from 2021-2022 public record of state boards

Optometrists are accessible across all of New Hampshire

Doctors of Optometry are trusted and more accessible than their eye surgeon colleagues (ophthalmologists).

You can find an Optometrist currently practicing in all 10 New Hampshire counties providing eye care access to 100% of the state’s population.

There are two New Hampshire counties without a single ophthalmologist and three counties have only one.

By allowing optometrists to practice to their full level of training and education, NH residents will have improved access to the quality eye care they need, expect, and deserve.

New Hampshire Eye Doctors Testify in the Senate in Support of SB-440

  • #1 - NHOA - SB 440 Explained
  • NHOA Legislative Committee Co-Chairs Dr. Angel Sawyer and Dr. Alison Loranger frame the discussion regarding the importance of SB-440.
  • #2 -Advanced Procedures Are Taught in every Optometry School in the U.S.
    The wait time for these advanced procedures in ophthalmology practices in New Hampshire is anywhere from 2 to 6 months! 
  • The problem is getting worse... Allow us to practice the way that we were trained
    Safe quality eye care is not exclusive to ophthalmology.

Why do optometrists need states to legislate their profession?

MDs have always tried to limit the rights of optometrists, dentists, podiatrists, nurses, and other health care professions by maintaining restrictive state laws.

In fact, optometrists are the only remaining doctorate-level healthcare provider in NH that is required to change state laws in order to provide the full scope of eye care taught in optometry school.

A Professor of both Ophthalmology and Optometry's Perspective

Dr. Richard Castillo, OD, DO is both an Ophthalmologist and Optometrist.  In this video he discusses the educational similarities and key difference of both professions. 

Chapters:

Ophthalmologists commonly try to reduce patients' access to care by saying that only they can perform in-office eye procedures − even though Optometrists have been performing these procedures for decades.

Dating back to 1974, ophthalmologists have always attempted to undermine Optometric education and training to limit them from doing even basic procedures such as:

  • Dilating pupils during an eye exam
  • Recommending artificial tear drops for dry eye
  • Prescribing eye drops for pink eye or glaucoma
  • Treating eye lid chalazia (styes) with steroid injections

Imagine your Doctor of Optometry not being permitted to dilate pupils or treat pink eye as MDs have argued... for over the past 50 years!


SB-440 will authorize Doctors of Optometry to practice to the level of their optometric education and training by allowing them to perform in-office eye laser and eyelid procedures. SB 440 restricts any procedures that are not included in the curricula for all graduating doctors of optometry.

Doctors of Optometry have been trained for and performed these in-office procedures in other states for decades

In-office procedure certification requires:

  • 4 years of Doctoral-level Optometry school;
  • Evaluation and management of thousands of patients;
  • Years of training in ocular disease and treatment;
  • 3 national board examinations; and
  • Performance proficiency examination.  

Federal Government Recommends all Healthcare Providers Utilize Their Full Skill Set

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition," a report with recommendations for developing a better-functioning healthcare market that provides high-quality care at affordable prices for the American people.

Recommendations: Broaden Scope of Practice - States should consider changes to their scope-of-practice statutes to allow all healthcare providers to practice to the top of their license, utilizing their full skill set.”  

The New Hampshire Optometric Association proudly endorses SB-440's forward thinking legislation that aligns with the federal government's findings.

Students and doctors learn advanced procedures through accredited colleges of optometry but are not allowed to practice them in New Hampshire due to restrictive scope of practice laws.

Doctors of Optometry in other states have been performing in-office eye laser procedures for glaucoma and after-cataract care since the 1980s with safe and effective outcomes. 

Nationwide research comparing glaucoma in-office eye laser procedures shows...

13x more ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) make a patient repeat their laser procedure two additional times compared to when a Doctor of Optometry performs the same procedure.

Based on publicly available Medicare data


What ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) will say about SB-440:

Click each statement below to learn more


  • The Truth

    MDs in New Hampshire have fought against the ability of Doctors of Optometry to care for their patients since the 1970s. In that time, MDs have tried to stop Optometrists from:

    • Dilating patient’s pupils.
    • Prescribing eye drops for pink eye and glaucoma.
    • Prescribing oral medication for eye infections and inflammation.
    • Performing in-office procedures to treat eye infections, inflammation and other conditions.
    • Administering vaccines

    MDs try to convince the public and legislators that only they should be allowed to perform these procedures despite zero evidence of ill-effects of optometric care over the past four decades. The entire Optometry profession has been built upon personal eye health and vision care for the betterment of society. This is why the public prefers Optometrists for their personalized eye health care.

  • The Truth

    SB-440 allows three common in‑office laser procedures for glaucoma and post-cataract scar tissue along with removing skin tags and eyelid injections for "styes." These in‑office procedures do not include major surgeries like cataract surgery, retina surgery, LASIK and many more.

    Optometrists are not allowed to perform any procedures that are not part of the accredited optometric curriculum.

    In fact, SB-440 includes a long list of surgical exclusions to cement them into law.

  • The Truth

    Doctors of Optometry have been performing in‑office procedures since the 1980s. The argument that only MDs are supposed to perform these procedures ended more than three decades ago. 

    Every Doctor of Optometry school across the nation trains optometrists for in‑office surgical and in-office eye laser procedures. In addition, every Optometrist that performs in‑office eye laser procedures has been certified by experts including ophthalmologists. 

    It's time to modernize the practice of Optometry in New Hampshire. 

  • The Truth

    The number of ophthalmologists in the U.S. has remained stable since 1990, while the number of patients over age 65 will increase 42% by 2030 and 83% by 2050. This provider-to-patient imbalance will continue to worsen as 50% of ophthalmologists are older than 50 years old and closer to retirement than training. American Academy of Ophthalmology 2022

    From 2020 to 2035, the total ophthalmology supply is projected to decrease by 12% and total demand is projected to increase by 24%, representing a supply and demand mismatch of 30% workforce inadequacy. ScienceDirect 2023

     

  • The Truth

    One optometrist in Oklahoma performed more laser procedures than a group of ophthalmologists.  MDs exploited that by writing a paper about it. However, MDs refused to look at the nationwide data because it showed 13x more Eye MDs required patients to have 3 procedures compared to when Doctors of Optometry perform the same.      

  • The Truth

    In-office eye laser procedure certification is a major endeavor. It requires:

    • 4 years of Doctor of Optometry school
    • Evaluation and management of thousands of patients
    • Years of training in ocular disease and treatment
    • Three board examinations
    • Performance proficiency examination

    It is the job of healthcare providers to remain current with medical advances and technologies.

    No medical profession stands still.

    All healthcare professionals learn new advances through continuing education (CE), including MDs, which builds on their formal foundational knowledge and skill.

Media Updates

Drs. Angelique Sawyer & Alison Loranger: SB 440 will improve access to quality eye care

New Hampshire Union Leader

Doctors of optometry are the leaders in primary eye care, helping patients and their families achieve healthier eyes and bodies by examining, diagnosing, treating, and managing diseases and disorders of the eye. Optometrists complete 4 years of undergraduate education, an additional 4 years of rigorous classroom and clinical doctorate training, followed by national board examinations. In all 50 states, doctors of optometry independently...

2/6/2024:

WFEA Radio 1370 AM - 2/6/2024: Morning Update with Drew Cline (Dr. Angel Sawyer)

NHOA's Legislative Committee Co-Chair Dr. Angel Sawyer shares the differences (and similarites) between an optometrist and ophthalmologists, the importance of SB-440 and the need to improve access to first-class eye care in New Hampshire.  

Union Leader Endorses SB-440

Hindsight, eyesight - A good optometrist measure

"A dozen states now allow optometrists to perform in-office laser procedures. Eighteen allow removal of eye lesions, and 42 states allow them to perform injections."

"Hindsight can clearly see the past waste of time and money in opposing sensible health care reform.  We trust foresight will rule the day this time."

Click here for a pdf of the March 30, 2024 editorial.

New Hampshire Optometrists have updated their scope of practice several times over the past 50 years to keep their patient care current with medical advancements. The experience of New Hampshire's Doctors of Optometry over many decades demonstrates the highest standards of care without any pullbacks, increases in malpractice rates, or disciplinary actions. New Hampshire optometrists have never let down the legislature or the citizens of the Granite State.


Optometry and Ophthalmology play a vital, coordinated role in modern eye care

Doctors of Optometry respect and work closely alongside Ophthalmologists to provide their patients the best possible eye care in New Hampshire.

Ophthalmologists provide a critical surgical role in LASIK, cataract surgery, incisional glaucoma surgery, retinal surgery, eye muscle surgery, corneal transplants, and much much more. Patients are much better served when each discipline is able to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training. 

teamwork

Paid for and authorized by the 215+ members of the
New Hampshire Optometric Association

If you would like more information or have a question regarding SB-440 and/or the profession of optometry, please complete the form below. We will respond quickly to your request!

About the NHOA

The New Hampshire Optometric Association (NHOA) is the Granite State affiliate of the American Optometric Association. We represent the vast majority of New Hampshire’s practicing Doctors of Optometry and have served our members and the citizens of New Hampshire since NHOA's founding over 110 years ago.