Optometrists allowed to order lab tests, prescribe drugs

Optometrists will soon have an expanded role in Alberta.

Optometrists will soon have an expanded role in Alberta.

The Alberta government announced Tuesday that it is increasing the scope of practice for optometrists.

Health Minister Fred Horne says it will come into effect this fiscal year and optometrists will be responsible for primary eye care.

Horne says in most cases patients will no longer need to travel to another community for eye care.

He also says optometrists will be able to order lab tests, prescribe drugs, treat certain types of glaucoma and order and apply ultrasound tests.

Horne says optometrists will now get paid to do things they are trained and licensed to perform.

“With nearly 645 optometrists in more than 80 Alberta communities this means that Albertans will have faster, more convenient access to essential vision care close to where they live, places like the centre we’re in today, with greatly reduced wait times,” Horne said.

“The ability for optometrists under this new regulation to prescribe some very specific drugs will eliminate the need for people to return to a family physician or specialist and wait in line to have that prescription ordered.”