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Eye Doctors Prepare to Challenge Walmart-Backed Constitutional Change Featured

Last modified on Friday, 09 February 2018 04:54
Written by  Thursday, 08 February 2018 16:51
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Press release


Optometric Physicians Rally to Protect Vision Health and Medical Standards in Oklahoma

Preparations for a major effort to protect vision health and medical standards are now underway after the Oklahoma Supreme Court approved a ballot initiative submitted by a Walmart-backed political group.


As currently written, Oklahoma's Constitution mandates that optometry - like other kinds of medicine - must be practiced in medical settings and not large retail environments. The constitutional language reflects a commitment to a high standard of care and prevents large retailers from placing profit motives above medical priorities. Walmart is attempting to change the Constitution to fit their business model.


In a decision handed down today by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Walmart was given approval to begin the signature-collecting process which could ultimately put their proposal on the ballot.

Dr. Jason Ellen, president-elect of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) and a Tulsa-based optometrist, said that eye doctors will now begin the hard work of educating their patients and voters on why Walmart's proposal is bad for them.


"My partners and I perform surgeries, diagnose and manage chronic eye diseases, and can detect life-threatening conditions," said Dr. Ellen. "The right place to do that is a medical clinic, not a gigantic grocery and hardware store. If Walmart gets their way, corporate management will reduce quality and increase prices. It's a lose-lose situation for my patients and for Oklahoma consumers."


OAOP Vice-President Dr. Selina McGee, who practices in Edmond and Midwest City, said that putting optometrists in big retail settings - as Walmart has proposed - will ultimately raise prices and make vision care less convenient.


"Companies like Walmart want to control the market for vision care and raise prices," said Dr. McGee. "That's a losing proposition for patients, especially seniors on a fixed income. Walmart also wants to make their store the singular destination for vision care. The vast majority of the patients we treat don't want to navigate a Walmart parking lot or rush-hour shopping to get their eyes checked or a procedure done."

Should Walmart's proposal be placed on the November ballot, the OAOP and its members are committed to supporting a statewide education campaign emphasizing the dangers of reducing the standards for medical care in Oklahoma.


The OAOP represents over 500 Optometric Physicians in Oklahoma. OAOP's mission is to lead optometric physicians through education and opportunities to improve vision, eye care, and health care.

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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