Arkansans for Healthy Eyes is a Ballot Question Committee made up of optometric physicians and patients working to give Arkansans better access to quality eye care. Because of Arkansas’s outdated eye care laws, patients in communities across the state often have to wait weeks for an appointment and drive hours from home to see a different doctor for care their own doctor of optometry is educated and qualified to provide.
Issue 6 (passed overwhelmingly as Act 579 during the 2019 legislative session) allows doctors of optometry to perform additional routine, in-office procedures that are typically done in an optometrist’s chair and without the use of general anesthesia. This is care Arkansas optometrists are trained and tested on, and it’s care Arkansas patients need and deserve.
Opponents of Issue 6 are using scare tactics to mislead voters about what the law actually does. The FACT is, Issue 6 allows doctors of optometry to safely perform additional in-office procedures they are educated and tested on, while requiring strict oversight and accountability. This means more patients in every part of the state will have better access to the eye care they need, and they can receive it from the doctor of optometry they know and trust.
Doctors of optometry serve patients all across our state. There are full-time optometric practices in over 80% of Arkansas counties, compared to ophthalmology, which has full time practices in about 30% of counties.
Doctors of optometry already perform many in-office procedures, like removal of metal from the cornea, for example.
Issue 6 passed overwhelmingly as Act 579 in 2019, to improve patient care and bring Arkansas law up-to-date. Before Issue 6, Arkansas’s eye care laws had not been updated in more than 20 years!
Issue 6 would NOT allow optometrists to perform surgeries like cataract surgery, LASIK surgery, or other major eye surgeries that ophthalmologists regularly perform.
Issue 6 requires strict oversight and accountability. Doctors of optometry are already educated to perform the procedures in Issue 6, and the law includes strict oversight – optometrists would be tested on the procedures, and they would have to receive credentials from the Arkansas Board of Optometry to be able to perform these procedures.
Optometrists in many other states have been performing the procedures allowed in Issue 6 for years. For example, optometrists in Oklahoma have been performing these procedures more than 20 years with NO reports of negative incidents.
The procedures allowed under Issue 6 are NOT the kind of procedures ophthalmologists typically perform in an operating room, like cataract surgery. These are in-office procedures similar to the other procedures doctors of optometry already regularly provide patients.
Optometrists go to four years of under-graduate school, followed by four years of optometry school, where they log thousands of hours working with patients. Many go on to attend a residency program.
Eighteen other states have a higher scope of practice than
Arkansas has WITHOUT Issue 6.
Four other states have expanded their scopes to do what Arkansas
now allows under the law.
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