Home News Ophthalmic Laser Scope Expansion Passes in South Dakota

Ophthalmic Laser Scope Expansion Passes in South Dakota

South Dakota’s scope victory makes it the twelfth state in the nation to authorize doctors of optometry for ophthalmic lasers, bolstering patients’ access to this level of care.

Photo credit: AOA

South Dakota modernizes its optometric scope of practice to include in-office procedures, such as injections and ophthalmic lasers, making it the twelfth state in the nation to authorize these safe, accessible care options for patients. 

Signed into law on March 5 by Gov. Kristi NoemH.B. 1099 allows doctors of optometry to administer injections around the eye, use local anesthetic for office-based surgical procedures, and perform laser procedures, including selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and posterior capsulotomy with a yttrium aluminum garnet laser (YAG), in accordance with new education and certification requirements. South Dakota becomes the latest state to authorize such in-office procedures, coming on the heels of an ophthalmology workforce report finding ophthalmology unable to meet the increasing demand for age-related eye care in the years ahead. 

Dr. Ashley Crabtree

“I am so proud of our member doctors for the support they provided in passing this bill,” says Ashley Crabtree, OD, South Dakota Optometric Society (SDOS) president-elect. “When asked, they responded and met with legislators, texted, called and emailed. Several doctors made the trip to the state Capitol to lobby legislators and testify in committee. 

“Our board also allocated resources to put together a great lobbying team led by our executive director, Deb Mortenson. We also had a robust social media and digital ad campaign to support this effort, and AOA’s State Government Relations Committee (SGRC), specifically Dr. Jeff Michaels, was a key support,” Dr. Crabtree adds. 

Specifically, the law now permits optometrists in South Dakota to provide: 

  • Intradermal injection of a paralytic agent 
  • Intralesional injection of a steroid to treat a chalazion 
  • Local anesthetic in conjunction with the primary removal of a pedunculated skin tag 
  • SLT and YAG  
  • Intense Pulsed Light therapy for dry eye 

Despite all procedures being taught in every school and college of optometry in the nation since at least 2015, optometrists will be required to complete a three-part “prove up” process to perform any added procedure. This process requires: 

  1. Passage of both a national examination on laser and injection procedures (graduates prior to July 1, 2024, will be grandfathered in).
  2. Passage of a 32-hour certification course to demonstrate competency on each of the added procedures.
  3. Hands-on demonstration of the procedures on at least five human eyes (SLT) and 10 human eyes (YAG) under the direct supervision of an ophthalmologist or authorized optometrist to prove competency in each procedure. 

South Dakota’s scope modernization effort began in earnest over a year ago when the legislation was introduced in the state’s senate, ultimately stalling with the House Health and Human Services committee. Reintroduced in January, the legislation received favorable responses in both chambers before heading to the governor’s desk in late February. 

The law takes effect July 1, 2024, and the SDOS is working with the state optometric licensing board on implementation. 


Read the full story from AOA here.

Read more news from WO here.

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