Education Law

Article 143, Optometry

§7100. Introduction. | §7101. Definition of the practice of optometry. | §7101-a. Certification to use therapeutic drugs. | §7102. Practice of optometry and use of title "optometrist". | §7103. State board for optometry. | §7104. Requirements for a professional license. | §7105. Exempt persons. | §7106. Special provisions. | §7107. Advertising of non-prescription ready-to-wear magnifying spectacles or glasses.

§7100. Introduction.

This article applies to the profession of optometry. The general provisions for all professions contained in article one hundred thirty of this title apply to this article.


§7101. Definition of the practice of optometry.

The practice of the profession of optometry is defined as diagnosing and treating optical deficiency, optical deformity, visual anomaly, muscular anomaly or disease of the human eye and adjacent tissue by prescribing, providing, adapting or fitting lenses or by prescribing, providing, adapting or fitting non-corrective contact lenses, or by prescribing or providing orthoptics or vision training, or by prescribing and using drugs. The practice of optometry shall not include any injection or invasive modality. For purposes of this section invasive modality means any procedure in which human tissue is cut, altered, or otherwise infiltrated by mechanical or other means. Invasive modality includes surgery, lasers, ionizing radiation, therapeutic ultrasound and the removal of foreign bodies from within the tissue of the eye. Nothing in this section or section seventy-one hundred one-a of this article shall be construed to limit the scope of optometric practice as authorized prior to January first, nineteen hundred ninety-five. The use of drugs by optometrists is authorized only in accordance with the provisions of this article and regulations promulgated by the commissioner.


§7101-a. Certification to use therapeutic drugs.

  1. Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
    1. Clinical training. Clinical training shall mean the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with ocular disease and shall be comparable to that acquired by a current graduate of the State University College of Optometry.
    2. Consultation. Consultation shall mean a confirmation of the diagnosis, a plan of co-management of the patient, and a periodic review of the patient's progress.
    3. Education review committee. Education review committee shall mean the committee established pursuant to subdivision nine of this section.
    4. Diagnostic pharmaceuticals. Diagnostic pharmaceuticals shall mean those drugs which shall be limited to topical applications to the surface of the eye for the purpose of diagnostic examination of the eye and shall be limited to:
      1. Anesthetic agents;
      2. Mydriatics;
      3. Cycloplegics;
      4. Miotics;
      5. Disclosing agents and other substances used in conjunction with these drugs as part of a diagnostic procedure.
    5. Phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents. Phase one pharmaceutical agents shall mean those drugs which shall be limited to topical application to the surface of the eye for therapeutic purposes and shall be limited to:
      1. antibiotic/antimicrobials;
      2. decongestants/anti-allergenics;
      3. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents;
      4. steroidal anti-inflammatory agents;
      5. antiviral agents;
      6. hyperosmotic/hypertonic agents;
      7. cycloplegics;
      8. artificial tears and lubricants.
    6. Phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents. Phase two pharmaceutical agents shall mean those drugs which shall be limited to topical application to the surface of the eye and shall be limited to:
      1. beta blockers;
      2. alpha agonists;
      3. direct acting cholinergic agents.
  2. Standard of care. An optometrist authorized to use pharmaceutical agents for use in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of ocular disease shall be held to the same standard of care in diagnosis, use of such agents, and treatment as that degree of skill and proficiency commonly exercised by a physician in the same community.
  3. Certificate. The commissioner shall issue appropriate certificates to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents in accordance with the provisions of this section to those optometrists who have satisfactorily completed a curriculum in general and ocular pharmacology at a college of optometry with didactic and supervised clinical programs approved by the department are eligible to apply for the certificate issued pursuant to this section.
  4. Phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.
    1. Before using or prescribing phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, each optometrist shall have completed at least three hundred hours of clinical training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with ocular disease other than glaucoma and ocular hypertension, not fewer than twenty-five hours of such training shall have been completed subsequent to June thirtieth, nineteen hundred ninety-three and additionally shall either have taken and successfully passed the treatment and management of ocular diseases portion of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry test or have taken and successfully passed an examination acceptable to the board.
    2. Before using or prescribing phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, an optometrist must be certified for diagnostic and phase one therapeutic agents and have completed an additional one hundred hours of clinical training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension, not fewer than twenty-five hours of such training shall have been completed subsequent to July first, nineteen hundred ninety-four, and shall have taken and successfully passed an oral or written examination acceptable by the board.
    3. The clinical training required by this section may have been acquired prior to the enactment of this section not inconsistent with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision. Approval of the pre-acquired clinical training shall be in accordance with subdivision nine-a of this section.
    4. The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision shall not apply to (i) graduates of an appropriate program approved by the department who have successfully passed the examination on the use of diagnostic and therapeutic drugs and who graduated subsequent to January first, nineteen hundred ninety-three; or (ii) optometrists who have been certified for at least five years to use phase one and phase two drugs in another jurisdiction, have demonstrated such use in independently managed patients, and have been licensed in accordance with section seventy-one hundred four of this chapter. Provided, however, no optometrist exempt under this paragraph shall be permitted to use phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents or phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents prior to the general authorization provided to optometrists licensed in this state.
  5. Suspension of certification. The department shall suspend the certification for the use and prescribing of phase one therapeutic agents of any optometrist who fails to receive certification for phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents within three years of having been certified for phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.
  6. Consultation.
    1. After the initial diagnosis of glaucoma or ocular hypertension and before initiating treatment of any patient, an optometrist shall engage in a written consultation with a licensed physician specializing in diseases of the eye.
    2. A consultation shall be required for a period of three years or until the optometrist has examined and diagnosed seventy-five patients having glaucoma or ocular hypertension which examinations require a written consultation in accordance with paragraph (a) of this subdivision, whichever occurs later.
    3. The consultation provisions shall not apply to a graduate of an appropriate program approved by the department who successfully passed an examination in the use of diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceutical agents approved by the department and graduated such school subsequent to January first, nineteen hundred ninety-nine and who has had at least seventy-five documented examinations and diagnosis of patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension which examinations were part of their training and were under physician supervision.
  7. Continuing education. Each optometrist certified to use phase one or phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents shall complete a minimum of thirty-six hours of continuing education per triennial registration period. The education shall be in the area of ocular disease and pharmacology and may include both didactic and clinical components. Such educational programs shall be approved in advance by the department and evidence of the completion of this requirement shall be submitted with each application for license renewal as required by section sixty-five hundred two of this chapter.
  8. Notice to patient.
    1.  
      1. An optometrist prescribing steroids or antiviral medication shall inform each patient that in the event the condition does not improve within five days, a physician of the patient's choice will be notified.
      2. An optometrist engaged in a written consultation with an ophthalmologist shall inform a patient diagnosed with glaucoma that the optometrist will have the diagnosis confirmed and co-managed with an ophthalmologist of the patient's choice, or one selected by the optometrist.
    2. In addition, each optometrist certified to prescribe and use therapeutic drugs shall have posted conspicuously in the office reception area the following notice:

      "Dr. (Name), O.D. is certified by New York State to use drugs to diagnose and treat diseases of the eye. In the event your condition requires the use of steroids or antiviral medication and your condition does not improve within five days, a physician of your choice will be notified.

      In the event you are diagnosed with glaucoma, the optometrist will have your diagnosis confirmed and treatment co-managed with an ophthalmologist (MD) of your choice, or if you wish, one selected by Dr. (Name)."

      The second paragraph of such notice shall only be required to be included during the period when the optometrist is engaged in a written consultation pursuant to subdivision six of this section.

  9. Education review committee. An education review committee is hereby created to advise and assist the commissioner in evaluating pre-acquired clinical training. The members of the committee shall be appointed by the commissioner in consultation with the chancellor of the state university of New York. The committee shall consist of five members, two of whom shall be optometrists on the faculty of the SUNY college of optometry, two of whom shall be ophthalmologists who, in addition to being members of the faculty of any approved medical school in this state and not also faculty members of SUNY college of optometry, have surgical privileges at a New York state hospital. The fifth member who shall be designated as chair shall be an expert in the field of public health and shall be neither an ophthalmologist nor an optometrist.

    The commissioner shall submit each application to the committee for its review and recommendation. In making such recommendation, the committee shall advise as to the number of hours of pre-acquired clinical training, if any, to be approved, based upon the information submitted with the application. In evaluating such training, the committee shall be authorized to require the submission of such reasonable documentation needed to facilitate the committee's review of the adequacy and relevance of such training.

    9-a. Pre-acquired clinical training.

    1. Each optometrist requesting approval of pre-acquired clinical training shall submit a written application to the department. The commissioner, in consultation with the education review committee may provide credit for the following:
      1. clinical training acquired at an institution accredited by a regional or professional accreditation organization which is recognized or approved by the United States Department of Education, the department and the Board of Regents of the University of the state of New York;
      2. clinical training acquired at a facility licensed by the state of New York in accordance with article twenty-eight of the public health law or at a comparable facility located in another state or country provided the licensing requirements or accreditation requirements of such institution are comparable to those of New York state;
      3. hospital affiliations, including rounds and patient management for applicants having staff privileges at such facility;
      4. consultation and co-management with ophthalmologists of patients with ocular disease and post-surgery recovery;
      5. postdoctoral accredited residency or fellowship programs;
      6. experience at an accredited educational institution as a faculty instructor in clinical practice, ocular disease management and pharmacology;
      7. experience in other states in which the applicant has been certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.
    2. Any optometrist disagreeing with the recommendation of the education review committee shall have a right to appeal in writing to the commissioner. The decision of the commissioner shall be final and binding on all parties.
  10. Pharmaceutical agents. Optometrists who have been approved and certified by the department shall be permitted to use the following drugs:
    1. Diagnostic pharmaceuticals.
    2. Those optometrists having been certified for phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents shall be authorized (i) to use and recommend all nonprescription medications appropriate for ocular disease whether intended for topical or oral use; and (ii) to use and prescribe all phase one therapeutic pharmaceutical agents which are FDA approved and commercially available.

      In the event an optometrist treats a patient with topical antiviral or steroidal drugs and the patient's condition either fails to improve or worsens within five days, the optometrist shall notify a physician designated by the patient or, if none, by the treating optometrist.

    3. Those optometrists having been certified for phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents shall be authorized to use and prescribe phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents which are FDA approved and commercially available.
  11. Responsibilities of the commissioner. The commissioner shall adopt regulations (a) providing for the certification of graduates of an appropriate program approved by the department who have successfully passed the examination on the use of diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceutical agents and who have graduated subsequent to January first, nineteen hundred ninety-three; and (b) providing for the certification of optometrists who have graduated from other accredited colleges of optometry or who are licensed to practice in other jurisdictions, have demonstrated such use in independently managed patients and are seeking licensure and certification in New York.
  12. Responsibilities of the commissioner of health. The commissioner of health may recommend to the commissioner additions or deletions to the department's regulations relating to optometric use of drugs except that such recommendations shall be limited only to additions which have been determined to be equivalent to those drugs already authorized or deletions based upon a finding that the drugs are no longer appropriate for their current use or for other similar reasons.

§7102. Practice of optometry and use of title "optometrist".

Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice optometry or use the title "optometrist".


§7103. State board for optometry.

A state board for optometry shall be appointed by the board of regents on recommendation of the commissioner for the purpose of assisting the board of regents and the department on matters of professional licensing and professional conduct in accordance with section sixty-five hundred eight of this title. The board shall be composed of not less than seven optometrists who shall have been residents of this state engaged in the practice of optometry for at least five years in this state. An executive secretary to the board shall be appointed by the board of regents on recommendation of the commissioner.


§7104. Requirements for a professional license.

To qualify for a license as an optometrist, an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Application: file an application with the department;
  2. Education: have received an education, including a degree of doctor of optometry or equivalent degree, in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
  3. Experience: have experience satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
  4. Examination: pass an examination satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
  5. Age: be at least twenty-one years of age;
  6. Citizenship: meet no requirement as to United States citizenship;
  7. Character: be of good moral character as determined by the department; and
  8. Fees: pay a fee of two hundred twenty dollars to the department for admission to a department conducted examination and for an initial license, a fee of one hundred fifteen dollars for each reexamination, a fee of one hundred thirty-five dollars for an initial license for persons not requiring admission to a department conducted examination, and a fee of two hundred ten dollars for each triennial registration period, and for additional authorization for the purpose of utilizing diagnostic pharmaceutical agents, a fee of sixty dollars.

§7105. Exempt persons.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to affect or prevent:

  1. A student from engaging in clinical practice under supervision of a licensed optometrist or physician in a school of optometry in this state registered by the department; or
  2. A person licensed to practice optometry from using a degree conferred in course after resident study by an educational institution lawfully authorized by the state in which it is located to confer such a degree.
  3. An optometrist licensed in another state or country who is employed on a full-time basis by a registered school of optometry as a faculty member with the rank of assistant professor or higher from conducting research and clinical demonstrations as part of such employment, under the supervision of a licensed optometrist and on the premises of the school. No fee may be charged for the practice of optometry authorized by this subdivision.

§7106. Special provisions.

  1. The testimony and reports of a licensed optometrist shall be received by any official, board, commission or other agency of the state or of any of its subdivisions or municipalities as qualified evidence with respect to any matter defined in section seventy-one hundred one of this article; and no official, board, commission, or other agency of the state or any of its subdivisions or municipalities shall discriminate among the practitioners of optometry and any other ocular practitioners.
  2. Eyeglasses or lenses for the correction of vision or non-corrective contact lenses may be sold by any person, firm or corporation at retail, only on prescription of a licensed physician or licensed optometrist and only if a licensed physician, optometrist or ophthalmic dispenser is in charge of and in personal attendance at the place of sale. This article shall not apply to binoculars, telescopes, or other lenses used for simple magnification; except, that a seller of non-prescription ready-to-wear magnifying spectacles or glasses shall have the following language attached to each pair of glasses or spectacles displayed or offered for sale and in at least ten point bold type permanently affixed in plain view to the top of any point of sale display or, if there is no display, in the area of sale: "ATTENTION; READY-TO-WEAR NON-PRESCRIPTION GLASSES ARE NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE PRESCRIBED CORRECTIVE LENSES OR EXAMINATIONS BY AN EYE CARE PROFESSIONAL. CONTINUOUS EYE CHECK-UPS ARE NECESSARY TO DETERMINE YOUR EYE HEALTH STATUS AND VISION NEEDS." As used in this subdivision "non-prescription, ready to wear magnifying spectacles or glasses" means spherical convex lenses, uniform in each meridian, which are encased in eyeglass frames and intended to ameliorate the symptoms of presbyopia. The lenses in such glasses shall be of uniform focus power in each eye and shall not exceed 2.75 diopters.
  3. It shall be a class A misdemeanor to practice any fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in any advertising related to optometric services.

  1. Any printed advertising for non-prescription ready-to-wear magnifying spectacles or glasses to be sold through the mail also shall include the statement, "ATTENTION; READY-TO-WEAR NON-PRESCRIPTION GLASSES ARE NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE PRESCRIBED CORRECTIVE LENSES OR EXAMINATIONS BY AN EYE CARE PROFESSIONAL. CONTINUOUS EYE CHECK-UPS ARE NECESSARY TO DETERMINE YOUR EYE HEALTH STATUS AND VISION NEEDS." As used in this section, "non-prescription, ready to wear magnifying spectacles or glasses" means spherical convex lenses, uniform in each meridian, which are encased in eyeglass frames and intended to ameliorate the symptoms of presbyopia. The lenses in such glasses shall be of uniform focus power in each eye and shall not exceed 2.75 diopters.
  2. Any person, his or her agent or employee who shall violate any provision of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars for each violation. For purposes of this section, the sale or offer for sale of each pair of non-prescription ready-to-wear magnifying spectacles or glasses which fail to meet the standards of this section shall constitute a violation.
Last Updated: August 19, 2009