Dr. Susan Whaley of Tallahassee Eye Center tests equipment at her optometric practice.
Tallahassee, Florida - A fight is brewing at the state Capitol over your eye care.
Optometrists are pushing legislation that would allow them to prescribe oral medications for eye diseases and conditions.
They say the bill would make it easier for patients to get routine prescription drugs currently available only from ophthalmologists. To ease some safety concerns, the bill prohibits optometrists from prescribing strong, Schedule 1 and 2 drugs.
But ophthalmologists don't want to lose patients. They are fighting the legislation, arguing it could put patients at risk.
Florida Optometric Association spokeswoman Sarah Bascom counters that optometrists are highly trained and they can handle more patients, especially in rural areas.
"We believe it's about access to care. It's not about scope of practice. It's not about trying to take patients. This is about making sure that our health care delivery system has a bigger workforce and people can be seen for something that can be handled by an optometrist. This would allow for more patients to be able to be seen and treated by an optometrist and be able to get prescription oral medications only as it relates to eye diseases and conditions."
Optometrists in 47 other states already have the authority to prescribe oral medications. The legislation has passed committees in the House and Senate, but still faces more committee votes before it can head to the full chambers for debate.