Primary care optometry in the United States of America: abilities and responsibilities Dr.ª Susan Cotter
Southern California College of Optometry, USA
In just over 100 years, optometry in the United States has transitioned from the status of spectacle peddlers to highly-educated and well-trained health care providers rendering care in diverse settings such as private/group practice, hospitals, health maintenance organizations, and community health clinics. With its roots as a refractive profession, optometry has evolved from a profession that was primarily concerned with vision correction using spectacle lenses to one that encompasses low vision, binocular vision / vision therapy, contact lenses, and the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease. Positioned at the frontline of all eye care, U.S. optometrists fulfill the role of primary eye care providers in that they provide comprehensive general eye and vision care services on a “first contact” basis. They serve as primary eye care providers in that they are educated and trained to take care of most of the eye problems, for most of their patients, most of the time. When indicated, they recommend consultation or referral for more complex conditions. The most recent evolution of the optometric profession in the U.S. has been in the area of eye disease. Topical ocular therapeutic laws have been passed in all 50 states; of these, there are 49 states where optometrists can treat glaucoma, 47 where oral medications can be prescribed, and 32 states in which optometrists have the authority to use certain types of injectable agents. With this expanded scope of practice, however, have come expanded responsibilities. Education and political action have been the driving forces behind this movement. Optometrists at the grassroots level, together with the American Optometric Association, have been instrumental in the recent expansion of optometry’s scope of practice.
Published on Mar 11, 2011
Proceedings for the International Conference of Optometry and Visual Science 2009 (CIOCV'09). University of Minho, Braga, Portugal