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Eye care procedure proposals

Optometrists in the state of Illinois say they want more rights when it comes to the procedures they're allowed to perform on patients. (WICS)

Optometrists in the state of Illinois say they want more rights when it comes to the procedures they're allowed to perform on patients.

Now a new proposal is creating controversy among some surgeons.

Leaders of the Illinois Optometric Association say they want to be able to perform low-risk procedures in their offices, including things like removing skin tags, draining eye cysts, and the ability to perform some biopsies.

"Optometrists tend to be the primary eyecare folks,” Illinois Optometric Association trustee and optometrist Dr. Matthew Jones said. “We're providing the majority of the care for folks in Illinois that need eye care, and you know a lot of these procedures can be done in office and it speeds up the process and in some ways, makes it more convenient for our patients."

Yet groups like the Illinois Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons say they believe only those who have completed both medical school and an ophthalmology residency should be able to perform such procedures.

The proposal is in its first notice with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. If it makes it to second notice, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, would decide whether to allow these procedures. JCAR is a bipartisan group of law makers from the General Assembly.

"The number one thing JCAR is interested in is there sufficient statutory authority for what the agency's doing?” JCAR executive director Vicki Thomas said. “Then we have secondary considerations like is it consistent with the legislative intent."

They'll also take public comment before deciding whether to permit these procedure expansions. Once in second notice, JCAR would have up to 90-days to make a decision.

"We're taught in school how to do these procedures, they’re already done safely in other states,” Dr. Jones said. “Ultimately, what everyone's hoping for is that there can be a plan for everyone to feel like we're safely able to do these procedures."

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