Eyeball Wars end with compromise bill heading to Governor for signature

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The Florida Senate has approved legislation to allow optometrists to prescribed approved oral medications, bringing to an end what has become known over the past few decades as the “eyeball wars” between optometrists and ophthalmologists.

The bill, which passed off the Senate floor unanimously and now heads to Governor Scott for his signature, permits optometrists to prescribe 14 oral drugs such as antibiotics and anti-glaucoma drugs after completing a course and exam. Optometrists will not be permitted to prescribe controlled substances or perform surgery, and will be required to report adverse events just as ophthalmologists do. 

The terms of this compromise are similar to those found in many of the other 47 states which permit some form of oral prescribing by optometrists, but whose laws vary in complex and unique ways.

Senate President Don Gaetz stated earlier this year his goal to end the eyeball wars; and Senator Eleanor Sobel, historically opposed to such measures, added that “after many years of negotiation, we finally have a bill that protects the patient.”