Bill S1078-2013

Provides for the conducting of visual assessments by ophthalmic dispensers

Relates to the practice of ophthalmic dispensing by ophthalmic dispensers pursuant to a visual assessment; provides that the commissioner of education shall establish educational and examination requirements to certify ophthalmic dispensers to practice visual assessment.






TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to the practice of ophthalmic dispensing


This bill authorizes opticians, who obtain an additional certification from the State Education Department, to assess a person's visual acuity, in order to determine the degree of correction necessary to compensate for various vision deficiencies such as nearsightedness or farsightedness through the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses.


This amends §7121 of the Education Law which defines opticians' scope of practice, to authorize opticians to practice visual assessment under certain conditions. The bill adds three additional subdivisions to §7121 which define visual assessment, establish certain educational requirements for opticians to meet in order to be certified to practice visual assessment, and require opticians to refer consumers whose vision cannot be corrected through the use of lenses beyond a certain degree.


Visual assessment is the skill necessary to determine the particular type of lens (eyeglasses or contact lenses) necessary to correct the usual causes of vision deficiencies. Visual assessment as such is a mechanical process, not a medical procedure. However, visual assessment is an essential component of vision care since it determines the degree of correction lenses must provide in order to correct the vision deficiencies. Visual assessment does not constitute an examination of the interior of the eyeball for purposes of determining pathologies or other medical conditions of the eye. As a nonmedical process, but one which is essential to the dispensing of corrective lenses, there is no reason that opticians who are appropriately trained should not practice visual assessment. The vast majority of consumers who have vision deficiencies described in this bill do not have medical conditions attendant to or causing such deficiencies. In these cases, the need for an eye examination, other than assessing the consumer's visual acuity, is uncalled for and not warranted.

The net effect of this bill will be to expand corrective vision services to the consumer by expanding the number of eye care practitioners who may perform visual assessment and thereby prescribe corrective lenses. This also allows the consumer to obtain prescribing services for corrective lenses from the practitioner who, in the majority of cases, will ultimately dispense the eyeglasses or contact lenses. The bill also provides an additional consumer protection by requiring opticians who perform visual assessment to refer consumers to an ophthalmologist or optometrist if their vision cannot be corrected beyond a certain

point by lenses. It should be noted that visual assessment is not foreign to the scope of practice of opticianry presently. Those opticians who are certified to dispense contact lenses are essentially skilled in and visually assess consumers presently in order to properly fit contact lenses. This process is referred to as over-refracting. In addition, practitioners who would practice visual assessment must meet additional education and clinical requirements and be certified by the commissioner after passing an examination.


None to the state.


A.536/S.527 of 2003-2004. A.1057/S.2509 of 2005-2006. A.4831 of 2009-2010 - Referred to Higher Education S.3661/A.3083 of 2011-12; Referred to Higher Education


This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law provided, however, the commissioner of education is hereby authorized to promulgate regulations and take such other actions necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act prior to such date.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1078 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. MAZIARZ -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Higher Education AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to the practice of ophthalmic dispensing THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 7121 of the education law, as amended by chapter 647 of the laws of 2005, is amended to read as follows: S 7121. Definition of practice of ophthalmic dispensing. 1. The prac- tice of the profession of ophthalmic dispensing is defined as adapting and fitting lenses, for the correction of deficiencies, deformities or anomalies of the human eyes, or adapting and fitting non-corrective contact lenses, on written prescriptions from a licensed physician or optometrist OR PURSUANT TO A VISUAL ASSESSMENT PERFORMED BY AN OPHTHALM- IC DISPENSER WHO IS CERTIFIED TO PERFORM VISUAL ASSESSMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SUBDIVISION THREE OF THIS SECTION. Replacements or duplicates of such lenses may be adapted and dispensed without prescription. Contact lenses may be fitted by an ophthalmic dispenser only under the personal supervision of a licensed physician or optome- trist. 2. AN OPHTHALMIC DISPENSER MAY PRACTICE VISUAL ASSESSMENT ONLY PURSU- ANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. VISUAL ASSESSMENT FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION MEANS TO TEST A PERSON'S VISION, BY THE USE OF A SERIES OF LENSES AND THEIR ROTATION, TO DETERMINE THE DEGREE OF CORRECTION NEEDED TO COMPENSATE FOR HYPEROPIA, MYOPIA, PRESBYOPIA, ASTIGMATISM OR ANY COMBINATION OF THESE. 3. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ESTABLISH BY REGULATION EDUCATIONAL AND EXAMINATION REQUIREMENTS TO CERTIFY OPHTHALMIC DISPENSERS TO PRACTICE VISUAL ASSESSMENT. SUCH EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS SHALL INCLUDE NINETY CONTRACT HOURS IN THE PRINCIPLES OF VISUAL ASSESSMENT OFFERED BY A
DEGREE-GRANTING INSTITUTION ACCEPTABLE TO THE DEPARTMENT. IN ADDITION, SUCH REQUIREMENTS SHALL INCLUDE TWENTY HOURS OF CLINICAL PRACTICE IN VISUAL ASSESSMENT UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED OPTOMETRIST OR LICENSED OPHTHALMOLOGIST. 4. IF AN OPHTHALMIC DISPENSER IS UNABLE TO SELECT LENSES WHICH PROVIDE 20/30 VISION IN EACH EYE TO THE CLIENT, HE OR SHE SHALL REFER THE CONSUMER TO A LICENSED OPHTHALMOLOGIST OR OPTOMETRIST. S 2. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision 3 of section 7121 of the education law, as added by section one of this act, the commis- sioner of education shall establish by regulation educational and exam- ination requirements to certify ophthalmic dispensers to practice visual assessment who are licensed and registered prior to the effective date of this act; provided, however, that such educational requirements may include, but not be limited to, courses, clinical practice, experience, or any combination thereof, which is acceptable to such commissioner and substantially meets the standards of the educational requirements estab- lished pursuant to such subdivision 3 of such section 7121 of the educa- tion law. S 3. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law; provided, however, the commissioner of education is hereby authorized to promulgate regulations and take such other actions necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act prior to such date.


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