Harmful Legislative Proposals

Help Us Stop House Bill 1798 – A Dangerous Bill Filed at Our State Capitol

Patient safety is at risk in Texas. Big-monied special interests are asking our state legislators to remove critical medical training requirements for those treating Texans' eyes. House Bill 1798 could pose a grave danger to Texans across this state.

House Bill 1798 would give optometrists — who are not medical doctors or trained surgeons — a blank check to perform over 100 types of delicate eye surgeries with lasers, scalpels, needles and other surgical instruments. Oklahoma is one of the only states to allow optometrists to operate on patients’ eyes. They require 32 hours of training compared with the thousands of hours ophthalmologists perform before operating. This has impacted patient safety with one study showing that Oklahoma patients operated on by an optometrist with a laser have a 189% chance of needing a second surgery compared to an ophthalmologist. In some cases, patients experienced multiple surgeries on the same eye. 

House Bill 1798 would immediately grant more than 3,000 optometrists across the state the ability to prescribe oral medications, including a special provision to prescribe hydrocodone. Ophthalmologists rarely, if ever, write opioid prescriptions for eye pain. This is bad public policy and bad judgement to even ask for this authority.

Even further, House Bill 1798 would remove the state’s requirement that optometrists refer patients suspected of glaucoma to an ophthalmologist. Eliminating this step could put patients’ sight at risk by removing medically-trained physicians from the diagnosis and management of a very complicated disease. Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored by any means.

That's not to say that optometrists don't play an important role in eye care — they do. Today, our state’s collaborative model encourages optometrists and ophthalmologists to work together based on their training and experience. This model works because ophthalmologists are physicians and their expertise combined with that of optometrists ensures that Texans receive the very best medical care.

HB 1798 would clearly put patient safety at risk.

Your voice can make the difference.