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All Aboard: New York ODs Cap Final Win for Optometry’s Ability to Prescribe Oral Medications

New York was the lone state in the nation that prohibited oral prescribing authority for optometrists. Yet, on Oct. 25, 2021, New York optometrists took home a win.

Dr. Kanevsky

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed law S. 1519/A. 1921 to amend the state’s optometric scope of practice act by authorizing doctors to prescribe a formulary of oral therapeutic pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of eye diseases.

The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and will permit certified doctors’ use of oral therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, including antibiotics, antivirals and antiglaucoma agents.

To certify for oral privileges, doctors must complete a 40-hour oral therapeutic drug course and pass an examination, unless they have graduated from an accredited college of optometry and passed board examinations on or after January 1, 2021.

“To say that this day was highly anticipated would be the understatement of a quarter-century. I am more excited about practicing today than I was on the day I received my license,” says Viola Kanevsky, OD, of New York City and New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) President.


Ever since New York optometrists gained topical prescribing privileges in 1995, Dr. Kanevsky and many other New York ODs have been working with NYSOA’s legislative chair and former President, Dr. Dawn Chivers, on extending the authority to include oral prescriptions, allowing them to provide patients with the level of care they had been educated and trained to give in school.

“Twenty-five years have passed: 25 years of attending orals CE, 25 years of co-managing with pediatricians and general physicians who sought my advice in prescribing oral medications for ocular conditions for their patients, 25 years of trekking to Albany and 25 years of signing letters and making phone calls to legislators,” she says.


As New York ODs gain oral medication prescription authority, optometrists will be able to save their patients time and money by attending to more of their ocular health needs in one visit. “Optometrists throughout the nation have been safely prescribing these medications to patients for decades, while in New York, patients would come into our offices seeking the care we were well trained to provide and instead were being referred on for multiple unnecessary and expensive appointments,” Dr. Kanevsky says.

It’s a win-win situation for both the doctor and the patient. “Authorizing optometrists to prescribe oral medications alleviates stress on our health care system, reduces costs and, most crucially, increases access to timely eye care services for all New Yorkers,” she says.

“We’re so appreciative of the leadership and dedication of Assemblymember Amy Paulin in the passage of this bill. My heartfelt congratulations and thanks go out to the NYSOA, SUNY Optometry, Dawn Chivers, OD, the head of our legislative committee and all the doctors who fought so hard for our patients.” “The work of creating excellent coursework and accompanying testing is now being done by the NYSOA in conjunction with our brilliant colleagues as SUNY Optometry under the capable supervision of Richard Madonna, OD,” Dr. Kanevsky says.

Dr. Chivers

“Having worked on this legislation for 15 years, I am thrilled that New York State optometrists will be able to treat our patients the way they deserve to be treated, consistent with the standard of care set across the rest of the country. Thank you to the NYS Legislature and Gov. Hochul for your faith in the practice of optometry. This could not have happened without the efforts of the incredible State University of New York College of Optometry and the relentless grassroots efforts of hundreds of optometrists across the state,” says Dr. Chivers.

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