Health

Bill headed to Assembly would allow optometrists to do more

If SB 622 is approved by the legislature and the Governor, some optometrists will be able to perform certain laser procedures and give some vaccinations.
If SB 622 is approved by the legislature and the Governor, some optometrists will be able to perform certain laser procedures and give some vaccinations.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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Eye doctors in California may be allowed to perform more procedures and give some vaccines if a bill approved by the state Senate on Friday and now on its way to the Assembly is approved.

The measure is not the only proposal that would widen the responsibilities of a group of medical professionals. It follows a more widely debated bill that would give nurse practitioners for autonomy.

The optometry bill is SB 622.  It would allow optometrists to get trained to do a variety of procedures, such as collecting blood and performing skin tests to diagnose allergies. It would let optometrists perform post surgery laser procedures on glaucoma patients, and administer certain vaccines.

Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) wrote both the nurse practitioner and the optometrist bills.

He says his goal is to give all medical professionals as many tools as possible to ensure quality care for Californians. He points to the growing number of people with insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The California Optometric Association supports SB 622; the California Medical Association opposes it - the Medical Association worries the bill would undercut the quality of care.

This is the second time Hernandez has proposed the optometrist bill. During the last session it passed the Senate and was in the Assembly when he pulled the bill in face of ongoing opposition.

The current bill includes more training requirements for optometrists who opt to do some of the  additional procedures.