The NCSL Blog


By Sydne Enlund

With projected shortfalls of primary care providers across the U.S., legislators are exploring ways to increase access to needed care. And, eye care is one form of primary care.

NCSL’s Scope of Practice Policy website has a new, eye-catching addition: optometrists are now featured as a new practitioner. Providing more than two-thirds of all primary eye and vision health care in the U.S., doctors of optometry, or optometrists, are an important access point to the health care system for many patients.

They are trained to examine, diagnose, treat and manage eye disorders, diseases, injuries and diseases that manifest in the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, they may also play a key role in an individual’s general health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases.

The new optometrists page features three interactive policy maps outlining optometrists’ authority to perform ophthalmic procedures, administer injections and prescribe controlled substances.

Optometrist licensing map

Visit the website to explore these policy areas among 18-plus others for nine different practitioners. And don’t forget to check out the scope of practice legislative database.

Sydne Enlund is a senior policy specialist in NCSL’s Health Program.

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This resource is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $853,466 with 100% funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. government.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.