Challenge To Optometry Eye Surgery Law

A coalition of Arkansas doctors are looking to deploy a rarely used ballot referendum to knock a new law off the books that would allow optometrists to perform eye surgeries and other procedures once limited to medically trained ophthalmologists.

That group, Safe Surgery Arkansas, on Tuesday filed papers at the State Capitol to form a ballot question committee to coordinate a statewide referendum challenging Act 579 of 2019. That new law opens the door for licensed optometrists, who were previously prohibited from using lasers, scalpels and injections in their local practice, to now perform those surgical procedures in Arkansas.

Supporters of the ballot referendum said in a news release that the eye health of Arkansans is at stake if Act 579 goes into effect. The group said a survey commissioned by the Arkansas Medical Society earlier this year found that 65% of Arkansans opposed allowing optometrists to perform surgeries with lasers and scalpels.      MORE

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