Optometrists; allowed to perform laser surgery if certified by Board of Optometry. (SB375)

Introduced By

Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Optometrists; laser surgery. Allows an optometrist who has received a certification to perform laser surgery from the Board of Optometry (the Board) to perform certain types of laser surgery of the eye and directs the Board to issue a certification to perform laser surgery to any optometrist who submits evidence satisfactory to the Board that he (i) is certified by the Board to prescribe for and treat diseases or abnormal conditions of the human eye and its adnexa with therapeutic pharmaceutical agents pursuant to Code requirements and (ii) has satisfactorily completed such didactic and clinical training programs provided by an accredited school or college of optometry that includes training in the use of lasers for the medically appropriate and recognized treatment of the human eye as the Board may require. The bill also requires the Board to adopt regulations (a) establishing criteria for certification of an optometrist to perform permitted laser surgeries and (b) requiring optometrists to register annually with the Board and to report information regarding any disciplinary action, malpractice judgment, or malpractice settlement against the provider and any evidence that indicates the provider may be unable to engage safely in the practice of his profession. The bill also requires optometrists certified to perform laser surgery to report certain information regarding the number and types of laser surgeries performed and the conditions treated as well as any adverse treatment outcomes associated with the performance of such laser surgeries to the Board, and requires the Board to report such information to the Governor and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources annually. This bill is identical to HB 213. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/11/2022Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/12/22 22103933D
01/11/2022Referred to Committee on Education and Health
01/13/2022Assigned Education sub: Health Professions
01/21/2022Impact statement from DPB (SB375)
02/03/2022Reported from Education and Health with amendments (11-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/03/2022Senate committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
02/03/2022Reported from Education and Health with amendment (11-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/04/2022Read first time
02/07/2022Read second time
02/07/2022Reading of amendment waived
02/07/2022Committee amendment agreed to
02/07/2022Amendment by Senator Petersen agreed to
02/07/2022Engrossed by Senate as amended SB375E
02/07/2022Printed as engrossed 22103933D-E
02/08/2022Impact statement from DPB (SB375E)
02/08/2022Passed by for the day
02/09/2022Read third time and passed Senate (33-Y 3-N 1-A) (see vote tally)
02/21/2022Placed on Calendar
02/21/2022Read first time
02/21/2022Referred to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions
02/22/2022Reported from Health, Welfare and Institutions (17-Y 3-N) (see vote tally)
02/24/2022Read second time
02/25/2022Read third time
02/25/2022Passed House (88-Y 10-N)
02/25/2022VOTE: Passage (88-Y 10-N) (see vote tally)
03/01/2022Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB375ER)
03/01/2022Impact statement from DPB (SB375ER)
03/01/2022Signed by President
03/01/2022Signed by Speaker
03/02/2022Enrolled Bill Communicated to Governor on March 2, 2022
03/02/2022G Governor's Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 9, 2022
03/09/2022G Approved by Governor-Chapter 16 (effective 7/1/22)
03/09/2022G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0016)


Linda Semans Donovan writes:

I'm curious what the impetus is for this bill. If it's access or affordability, it seems there's another way to increase medical presence in the state. I would want a medical doctor to perform any of these surgeries and I think other residents of Virginia would want the same, regardless of their income or residence.

Fred Woehrle writes:

This looks like a good bill that will improve access to and affordability of healthcare, while maintaining the quality of healthcare.

Suzanne Everhart writes:

This bill is open ended and permits all surgeries except those expressly excluded to be performed by optometrists who never went to medical school or completed a surgical residency on unknowing patients’ eyes.

Who woke up one day and thought I want my optometrist who fits my glasses and contacts to perform delicate eye surgery on my eyes?

The only persons who thought this were optometrists guaranteed! Virginians deserve and have access to top notch eye surgery performed by competent medical eye doctors and surgeons.

Why should anyone in Virginia be subjected to the least qualified professional performing eye surgery?

A recent survey conducted in January 2022 revealed unsurprisingly that 90% of all polled want medically trained eye physicians and surgeons performing their eye surgery.

This legislation puts all Virginians at risk.

Please contact your legislators and let them know you are entitled to having fully qualified eye surgeons perform your eye surgery! There is no shortage or access to care here in Virginia!

Patient safety is and should remain first and foremost here in Virginia!

William Shaheen writes:

This bill is about improving outcomes for patients. Anytime there is increased access to high quality care and increased choice this leads more prompt treatment and yes BETTER OUTCOMES. The record in 7 other states starting in the 1980s shows about 150,000 laser procedures by optometrists without any poor outcomes. In most other states optometrists have been performing other minimally invasive surgeries for decades and some of these may not even be allowed by this bill...go figure. Medicine always claims the sky is falling for these types of bills. The attempted maintanance of a monopoly by MD's is not altruistic. Falsely claiming potential harm when the facts bear just the opposite over the decades is just not in the best interest of society and is counter productive the providing the best care for all people.

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