AOA News anniversary celebrated with top 10 stories

November 21, 2013

The AOA News commemorated 50 years of groundbreaking news in optometry by republishing the Top 10 AOA News stories as selected by readers from all five decades. Here’s a recap of the top stories leading up to No. 1.

No. 10: Oklahoma authorizes lasers for ODs in 1998

Oklahoma has become the first state to specifically authorize optometrists to use lasers to correct vision and provide eye care.

Legislation authorizing properly certified optometrists to provide certain types of eye care and vision correction using lasers was signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R), March 16.

The new law goes into effect Nov. 1.

No. 9: U.S. Senate approves sweeping health bill, AOA-backed provisions advance in Dec. 2009

In the early morning hours of Dec. 24, the U.S. Senate approved its version of health care reform legislation (H.R. 3590) on a 60-39 party-line vote.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the sweeping legislation measure will extend health insurance coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cost $871 billion over the next 10 years.

No. 8: InfantSEE™ launches with 6,600 ODs on board

InfantSEE™, the largest public health initiative ever undertaken by optometry, officially launched nationwide June 8.

From an idea first stated by W. David Sullins, Jr., O.D., to a multimillion dollar national program, we’ve had unprecedented attention and overwhelming commitment by ODs.

No. 7: AOA became an agency member of the APHA in 1963, later forming the Vision Care Section

The AOA News ran the article in January 1963, the same year the AOA become an agency member of the American Public Health Association. This opened the door for the later formation of the Vision Care Section in 1979. Mel Shipp, O.D., Dr.PH, MPH, was elected APHA president in 2011.

The American Public Health Association’s 90th annual meeting in Miami Beach was attended by 6,000 registrants including a delegation of 21 representing AOA.

As in the several previous meetings, the AOA presented an exhibit in the Scientific Section. The theme dwelt upon modern tests for pre-school and early-school children, and emphasized the 10 points essential to educational achievement. Educational literature was distributed.

No. 6: KY to require pre-school eye health exams

Kentucky has become the first state in the country to require eye examinations for children prior to entry into preschool, Head Start or kindergarten.

House Bill 706 was signed into law by Gov. Paul Patton (D) April 4 as part of his Early Childhood Initiative.

The law goes into effect July 15, 2000, so all children entering school this fall must meet the exam requirement.

No. 5: Victory! 22-year battle for Medicare parity succeeds

An event that optometry has been hoping to proclaim for 20 years finally happened last month when Congress approved and the president signed legislation ensuring optometric patient equity under Medicare.

The Medicare provision was contained in the reconciliation package for the 1987 federal budget. President Reagan signed the budget package Oct. 21, and the Medicare provision will become effective April 1, 1987.

The measure allows payment for vision care services performed by optometrists, if the services are among those already covered by Medicare when furnished by a medical doctor, and if the optometrist is authorized by state law to provide the services.

No. 4: Therapeutics included in West Virginia Law

The West Virginia legislature in overriding a gubernatorial veto has passed legislation allowing optometrists to use drugs for diagnostic purposes. Seven states in the country have laws which allow optometrists to use diagnostic drugs, but the West Virginia law is the first to include therapeutics.

The unprecedented action of the West Virginia legislature was culminated on March 3, 1976, when the state Senate followed the lower house’s veto to override the governor’s veto of the bill.

The legislation’s new definition of optometry reads: “The examination of the human eye, with or without the use of drugs prescribable for the human eye, which drugs may be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes for topical application to the anterior segment of the human eye only, and, by any method other than surgery….”

No. 3: Rhode Island law amended to permit diagnostic drugs

Rhode Island has become the first state to have a law explicitly giving optometrists the authority to administer diagnostic drugs.

Gov. Frank Licht signed the new optometry act July 16, 1971, following its passage July 14 by the Rhode Island Senate.

The senate vote was 25 to 16.

The new law, strongly advocated by the Rhode Island Optometric Association, reads in part:

“Optometry is defined as the profession whose practitioners are engaged in the art and science of the evaluation of vision and the examination of vision and the examination and refraction of the human eye which includes:…the topical application of drugs to the eye, to wit, mydriatics, miotics, and the use of topical anesthetics, provided however, that no optometrist licensed in this state shall treat by the use of these drugs or attempt to perform any surgery and shall be used only for the purpose of detecting any diseased or pathological condition of the eye or the effects of any disease or pathological condition of the eye….”

No. 2: AOSA Names Officers, Board Of Directors

On July 1, 1968, an order was proclaimed declaring the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) an official organization.

The AOSA is an affiliation of three optometric schools: Pennsylvania College, Indiana University, and University of California at Berkeley.

The remaining seven schools of optometry are expected to join the affiliation in the near future.

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