A bill allowing optometrists to perform a broader range of eye surgeries passed 70-19 Wednesday in the House.
House Bill 1251, sponsored by Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris, would allow optometrists to administer injections around people's eyes, remove bumps and lesions from eyelids, and perform certain types of laser surgery. HB1251 next goes to the Senate.
Supporters say the measure would allow optometrists to use more of their training and provide easier access to eye care for patients in rural areas.
Opponents, including Democratic Rep. Stephen Magie, an ophthalmologist from Conway, say that allowing optometrists to perform procedures now performed by ophthalmologists, who have medical degrees and more training, would put patients at risk.
An October 2018 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures listed Alaska, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky as allowing optometrists to perform some laser surgeries and remove lumps and bumps. Five other states allowed optometrists to remove lumps and bumps but not perform laser surgeries.