On Thursday night, September 1, the California Assembly passed a bill—by a one-vote margin—that would expand optometrists’ scope of practice to include various advanced procedures including laser and incisional surgery. Passed by the narrowest margin, on the last day of the California legislative calendar, this bill would make California the 11th state to expand non-physician optometrist scope.

Now, the bill goes to Governor Gavin Newsom for his review. Will he approve or veto this legislation? Reducing licensing requirements for surgical procedures can be harmful for patients. For generations in America, eye surgery has required the training and experience of a physician. A physician opthamologist receives four to five years of surgical training (after completing medical school) involving cases ranging from the hundreds to thousands. If this bill is signed into law someone who took limited educational courses and completed scant surgical on plastic eye models would be allowed to perform surgery, and this can risk patient safety.

After lobbying for the successful passage of this bill, California optometrists called it a “watershed moment”. Meanwhile, the California Medical Association has said this bill does not require adequate training for such expanded scope.

Physicians for Patient Protection calls on everyone in California to take note of this risk.

How to contact Gov. Newsom and share your expert feedback on Assembly Bill 2236, now sitting on his desk:

You can also fax a letter to: (916) 558-3160