Advocacy Group Forms to Advocate Improved Eye Care in Texas

Mary Thorman/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mary Thorman/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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There is a new effort to improve access to eye care in the state. The Texas Optometric Association has formed Focus Texas.

Claire Kowalick covered this advocacy group for the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

“And it is a group of doctors, patients, and citizens [that] are concerned about the state of eye care in Texas,” she says.

The group says Texas ranks 47th in the United States for eye care. The reason for that? Focus Texas says the state has outdated laws that restrict what services optometrists can perform, even when they’re fully trained to do them.

Kowalick says, for example, optometrists in Texas can’t prescribe oral antiviral medications.

“If a person has, say, shingles of the eye, the optometrist can diagnose the disease and completely know how to treat it but they can’t prescribe this medication,” she says. “They would have to say, I’m sorry you’re in pain right now but you have to go see this other doctor.”

Kowalick also found that those studying optometry may even have to leave Texas to become fully trained.

“There are doctors of optometry that train at the University of Houston, but they have to do a portion of their training in Louisiana because we’re not even allowed to do that training here,” she says. “So to be fully accredited and be able to travel anywhere in the nation, they have to do a portion of their training in another state, to just do what any optometrist should be able to do.”

Neighboring states also have far better access to eye care than Texas.

Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico all rank in the top ten.