Trusted Eye Care

Doctors of Optometry are the primary eye care providers in Virginia, providing more eye health and vision examinations than any other profession. Virginians look to Doctors of Optometry for their eye care treatment and advice.

Survey says...

  1. Americans prefer Doctors of Optometry as their eye care expert nearly 2x more than MDs (ophthalmologists).
  2. The most-trusted source for reliable eye health information is a Doctor of Optometry - not an MD (ophthalmologist or primary care physician).
(American Eye-Q Survey, Results published Jan 2019)

Every day...

Doctors of Optometry use a microscope to diagnose over 270 systemic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases, cancers and more.

These doctors are trusted and more accessible as their eye surgeon colleagues (ophthalmologists) are not even in half of the counties in Virginia.*

*Source: VHDA 

Adapting to Needs

Optometrists practicing in Virginia take more than 20 hours of continuing education courses every year. That equates to more than 800 hours of continuing education after they have graduated from doctor of optometry school.

4 years

Undergraduate University

4 years

Doctor of Optometry school

1000s

of patients with eye diseases receiving care and individual treatment plans while the optometrist was in school

~10,000

hours of optometry education and patient care before independently seeing patients

800+

hours of ongoing education after graduation from Doctor of Optometry school

Certified

in laser treatment procedures, in‑office surgical care, and more

Proven Success

Doctors of Optometry already
perform in-office eye laser procedures

to treat glaucoma and after-cataract surgery care.  While optometrists are the trusted professionals for the majority of eye care patients in the United States, you still need an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) to perform cataract surgery, LASIK, retina surgery and more.

Every Optometry school in the USA trains Doctors of Optometry to perform in-office eye laser procedures and Doctors of Optometry in Virginia have been certified to perform in-office laser procedures since the 1990s. In other states, these glaucoma and after-cataract in-office eye laser procedures are provided by optometrists.

Legislated Profession

Why do optometrists need states to legislate their profession?

Every state governs the privileges of its health care providers through licensing programs.  For example, every optometry school trains its students for in-office eye laser procedures and in-office surgical care but every state decides the rights of its doctors to perform these procedures.  Typically, MDs try to limit the rights of optometrists, dentists, nurses, chiropractors and other health care professions. 

Ophthalmologists have commonly tried to reduce patients access to care by saying that only they can perform in-office eye laser procedures − even though Optometrists have been performing these procedures for decades.

Ophthalmologists often claim that their training is superior to Doctors of Optometry and trying to limit them doing even basic procedures such as:

  • Dilating pupils during an eye exam
  • Recommending artificial tear drops for dry eye
  • Prescribing eye drops for pink eye or glaucoma
  • Treating eye lid chalazia with steroid injections

Imagine your Doctor of Optometry not being permitted to dilate pupils or treat pink eye as MDs fought for over the past 40 years.


A 2022 bill before the Virginia General Assembly will allow Doctors of Optometry to practice to the scope of their education and training by allowing them to perform in-office eye laser procedures.

Doctors of Optometry have been trained for and performed these eye laser procedures in other states for decades. It's time for Virginia to catch up, especially since more than half of the counties in Virginia do not even have ophthalmologists, making it difficult to access care.

In-office eye laser procedure certification requires:

  • 4 years of Doctor of Optometry school
  • Evaluation and management of thousands of patients
  • Years of training in ocular disease and treatment
  • Three national board examinations
  • Performance proficiency examination

Optometrists Performing In‑Office Eye Laser FACTS

  • Doctors of Optometry have performed in‑office eye laser procedures for more than 20 years
  • Doctors of Optometry are trained to perform in-office eye laser procedures in school and are certified by experts
  • Doctors of Optometry have been treating glaucoma without lasers for decades
  • Doctors of Optometry have been managing and treating every complication that could come from in-office eye laser procedures for decades

Doctors of Optometry in other states have been performing
in-office eye laser procedures for glaucoma and after-cataract care
since the 1990s.

By expanding the eye laser procedures in Virginia
within an optometrist's scope of training and education,
Virginians will have better access to the care they need.


Nationwide research comparing glaucoma in-office eye laser procedures shows...

13x more ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) make a patient repeat their laser procedure two additional times compared to when a Doctor of Optometry performs the same procedure.

American Optometric Association review of public Medicare data

Ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) that oppose the 2022  'Optometry Bill'  will say:

Click each statement below to learn more


  • The Truth

    One optometrist in Oklahoma performed more laser procedures than a group of ophthalmologists.  MDs exploited that by writing a paper about it. However, MDs refused to look at the nationwide data because it showed 13x more Eye MDs required patients to have 3 procedures compared to when Doctors of Optometry perform the same.      

  • The Truth

    Doctors of Optometry have been performing in‑office eye laser procedures since the 1990s. The argument that only MDs are supposed to perform these procedures ended more than two decades ago. 

    Every Doctor of Optometry school in the USA teaches and trains optometrists for in‑office surgical and in-office eye laser procedures. In addition, every Optometrist that qualifies to perform in‑office eye laser procedures has been certified by experts including by ophthalmology.  It's time to update Virginia Code to the 21st century. 

  • The Truth

    Doctors of Optometry have been performing in-office eye laser procedures for decades. Virginia is late to adopt such a law. Eye MDs published an article in 2018 that proved patients would have to drive nearly 2x further by limiting in-office eye laser procedures to only ophthalmologists.*

    JAMA Ophthalmology 2018
  • The Truth

    The 'Optometry Bill' before the 2022 General Assembly only allows three in‑office eye laser procedures called: selective laser trabeculoplasty, peripheral iridotomy, and posterior capsulotomy. These three in‑office procedures do not include major surgeries like cataract surgery, retina surgery, LASIK and more. In fact, the 2022 'Optometry Bill' includes a long list of surgical exclusions to bolster the confidence of all involved because only three procedures are allowed in the language of the bill.

  • The Truth

    Optometry is a legislated profession.  Not unlike dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, physical therapists and other doctor-level health professions, these non-MD professions must legislate to be allowed to perform any patient care. That means that each of these professions must meet with legislators regularly to discuss health care trends and issues. In fact, even the MD lobby will meet with legislators and give campaign contributions yearly.

  • The Truth

    In-office eye laser procedure certification is a major endeavor. It requires:

    • 4 years of Doctor of Optometry school
    • Evaluation and management of thousands of patients
    • Years of training in ocular disease and treatment
    • Three board examinations
    • Performance proficiency examination

    Clearly this is impossible to accomplish in only one weekend.

  • The Truth

    MDs in Virginia have fought against the ability of Doctors of Optometry to care for their patients since the 1980s. In that time, MDs have tried to stop Optometrists from:

    • Dilating patient’s pupils.
    • Prescribing eye drops for pink eye and glaucoma.
    • Prescribing oral medication for eye infections and inflammation.
    • Performing in-office procedures to treat eye infections, inflammation and other conditions.

    MDs try to convince the public and legislators that their care is the only one that should allow these medical procedures despite there being zero evidence of ill-effects of optometric care over the past four decades. The entire Optometry profession has been built upon personal eye health and vision care for the betterment of society. This is why the public prefers Optometrists for their personalized eye health care.

Virginia Optometrists have changed their scope of practice a few times over the past 40 years to keep their patient care up to the standards of the doctor's education, ability and training.  During those times, the procedures to adapt optometry laws have not been requested lightly.  The experience of Virginia Doctors of Optometry over the past 40 years shows their incredible track record of neighborhood patient care and trust within the legislative community.  

Optometry and Ophthalmology play a vital, coordinated role in modern eye care

Doctors of Optometry respect and work closely alongside Ophthalmologists to provide their patients the best possible eye care in Virginia.

Ophthalmologists provide a critical surgical role in LASIK, incisional glaucoma surgery, retinal surgery, eye muscle surgery, corneal transplants, and much much more. Patients are much better served when each discipline is able to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training. 

teamwork