Lawmakers looking to expand access to eye care

Lawmakers estimate change to the law would save the state $20 million annually.

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Senate approved a measure that would increase access to eye care and give state residents more options for treating eye disorders next year.

Forty-nine states allow optometrists to treat eye disorders like Glaucoma and authorize medication for eye infections. Massachusetts is the only state that does not.

Under current state law, optometrists can screen patients for eye conditions, but must refer them to a specialist for treatment.

Eye doctors say this forces patients to pay additional fees and higher rates for the same care offered by optometrists in other states.

Massachusetts lawmakers have also filed several bills that would allow optometrists to give medical care to patients with glaucoma and other eye disorders.

“We’re going to be saving money yet increasing accessibility,” State Senator Michael Moore explained. “So I think this really addresses a lot of the needs that we have.”

Some specialists are concerned that optometrists don’t have the training to provide these medical procedures. Lawmakers estimate that changing eye care laws would save the state $20 million annually.