OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma optometrists today thanked the Legislature and Governor Kevin Stitt for passing and signing legislation that will protect Oklahoma’s vision health standards while increasing convenience for consumers.
Senate Bill 100, authored by State Representative Carl Newton, himself an optometrist, removes from statute a prohibition on the sale of eyewear in non-medical, retail settings. It would allow retail stores to sell frames and lenses. It would also allow retail stores to lease space to optometrists. However, unlike previous proposals (including the previously rejected State Question 793), SB 100 contains vigorous protections for patient safety, quality of care, and the independence of the doctor.
Under SB 100, any optometry clinic leasing space from a retail store would need to be a separate legal entity owned and operated by an optometric physician licensed in Oklahoma. That optometrist cannot be an employee of the retail entity. Furthermore, the optometry clinic would be required to be physically separate from the retail space, with its own external entrance. The language maintains Oklahoma’s status as one of 16 so-called “two door” states, which include neighboring Texas and Kansas.
Also unlike State Question 793, SB 100 clarifies that the independently operating Board of Examiners in Optometry regulates optometrists’ scope-of- practice, and that a corporate entity cannot restrict or influence how a doctor practices.
Dr. Selina McGee, an Edmond optometrist and president of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians, said the bill is a positive development for optometric physicians and their patients.
“Our primary concern as eye doctors is protecting Oklahoma’s very high standards for quality of care and patient safety,” said Dr. McGee. “To preserve those high standards, optometrists need to be operating independently, free of corporate control or interference, and governed by a medical board. SB 100 is consistent with those principles, where State Question 793 and other previous proposals were not.”
More on SB 100:
SB 100 stipulates:
• That retail outlets may sell frames and lenses;
• That retail outlets may begin to lease space to optometric physicians in a phased-in, gradual manner with a timeline based on population density;
• That the doctor may not be an employee of the retail outlet;
• That the doctor will not receive any additional compensation for referring patients to the retail stores’ optical services;
• That the care given to the patient be the main concern of the optometric physician, or other physician providing vision care;
• That the doctor’s office be separate from the retail outlet’s optical shop; and
• That the current laws be followed in giving a patient a prescription for glasses or contact lenses.
SB 100 also:
• Defines the responsibility of the doctor to his patients;
• Sets out penalties for infraction of the law;
• Includes language disallowing the retailer to sell below costs; and
• Adds new language that puts into law requirements for a contact lens prescription and requirements for the renewal of contact lens prescriptions by persons other than the prescribing doctor.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signs SB 100.
The Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians exists to to lead optometric physicians through education and opportunities to improve vision, eye care, and health care.