The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 26: Professions and Occupations

Chapter 30: OPTOMETRY


Sub-Chapter 1: General Provisions

§ 1701. Legislative findings

The legislature finds and declares that the public health, safety, and welfare of the state of Vermont requires the exercise of the authority of this state to safeguard the people of Vermont and further that the right to practice optometry is a privilege conferred by legislative grant to persons possessed of personal and professional qualifications. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 1702. Short title

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Vermont Optometry Practice Act."  (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 1703. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Board" means the state board of optometry.

(2) The "practice of optometry" means any one or combination of the following practices:

(A) The examination of the human eyes and visual system for purposes of:

(i) diagnosing refractive and functional ability; or

(ii) diagnosing the presence of eye and adnexa disease or injury, treating the disease or injury with the appropriate pharmaceutical agents and procedures in accordance with this chapter, and making referrals to the appropriate health care provider when warranted.

(B) The diagnosis and correction of anomalies of the refractive and functional ability of the visual system and the enhancement of visual performance including, but not limited to, the following:

(i) the prescribing and employment of ophthalmic lenses, prisms, autorefractor or other automatic testing devices, frames, ophthalmic aids, and prosthetic materials as consistent with the health of the eye;

(ii) the prescribing and employment of contact lenses; and

(iii) administering visual training, vision therapy, orthoptics, and pleoptics.

(3) "Disciplinary action" or "disciplinary cases" includes any action taken by a board against a licensee or applicant premised upon a finding of wrongdoing or unprofessional conduct by the licensee or applicant. It includes all sanctions of any kind, including obtaining injunctions, issuing warnings, reprimands, suspensions, or revocations of licenses, and other similar sanctions and ordering restitution.

(4) "Financial interest" means being:

(A) a licensed practitioner of optometry; or

(B) a person who deals in goods and services which are uniquely related to the practice of optometry; or

(C) a person who has invested anything of value in a business which provides optometric services.

(5) "Contact lenses" means those lenses that are worn for cosmetic, therapeutic, or refractive purposes. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 35, § 27; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 23.)

§ 1704. Penalties

A person who obtains a license by fraud or misrepresentation or who practices or attempts to practice optometry or hold himself or herself out as being able to do so in this state without first having obtained the license required by this chapter shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A. § 127(c). (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2007, No. 29, § 29.)


Sub-Chapter 2: State Optometry Board

§ 1707. Qualifications; term of office; removal

(a) A state board of optometry is created which shall be the continuation of and successor to the state board of examiners in optometry heretofore established by chapter 29 of this title.

(b) The board shall consist of five members, three of whom shall be residents of the state, have had at least five years' experience in the practice of optometry in the state, and are in the active practice of optometry at the time of their appointment; and two members who shall be representatives of the public, who shall be residents of the state for five years and who shall have no financial interest in the profession other than as a consumer or potential consumer of its services.

(c) Board members shall be appointed by the governor pursuant to 3 V.S.A. §§ 129b and 2004.

(d) [Deleted.]  (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 27, § 46.)

§ 1708. Powers and duties

(a) The board shall:

(1) Adopt rules under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 necessary for the performance of its duties, ensuring that at least the following are established by statute or rule:

(A) A definition of the behavior for which a license is required;

(B) Explanations of appeal and other significant rights given by law to licensees, applicants, and the public.

(b) The board may:

(1) exercise authority granted under 3 V.S.A. chapter 5.;

(2) use the administrative services provided by the office of professional regulation under 3 V.S.A. chapter 5;

(3) Receive legal assistance from the attorney general of the state and from the legal counsel for the director of the office of professional regulation.

(c) The board shall not:

(1) limit the ownership of optometric practices to licensed optometrists;

(2) limit the number of offices or sites at which an optometrist may practice; or

(3) limit the right of optometrists to practice in an association, partnership, corporation, or other lawful entity with anyone. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 2009, No. 35, § 28.)

§ 1709. Functioning of board of optometry

(a) Annually, the board shall meet to elect a chairperson, vice chairperson, and a secretary.

(b) Meetings may be called by the chairperson and shall be called upon the request of any other two members.

(c) Meetings shall be warned and conducted in accordance with 1 V.S.A. chapter 5.

(d) A majority of the members of a board shall constitute a quorum for transacting business, and all action shall be taken upon a majority vote of the members present and voting.

(e) [Deleted.]

(f) [Repealed.]  (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 27, § 47; 2009, No. 35, § 41.)

§ 1710. Repealed. 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.


Sub-Chapter 3: Examinations And Licenses

§ 1712. License required

(a) No person may practice optometry in this state who is not licensed under this chapter.

(b) Licensing standards and procedures established by the board shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to measure and reasonably ensure an applicant's qualifications to practice the occupation. They shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the size of the occupation.

(c) If a licensee has a principal place of business for a licensed occupation, a license shall be prominently displayed at that place.

(d) Licenses may not be transferred.

(e) No persons may use the title "doctor of optometry," "optometrist," or any substantially equivalent title unless he or she is licensed under this chapter.

(f) Nothing contained in subsection (a) of this section shall prevent a student from providing optometric services:

(1) under the on-site supervision of a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist at a state hospital;

(2) as part of an optometric clinical program under the on-site supervision of a licensed optometry instructor of a school of optometry, a college, or an optometry department of a university recognized by the board; or

(3) as a student intern in a hospital under the on-site supervision of a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1991, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 34a; 2005, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)

§ 1713. Exemptions

(a) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit other licensed health care professionals from practicing to the full extent of their licenses, nor to apply to any eye screening, state or government eye testing programs, nor to any instruction in any medical, osteopathic, or nursing school.

(b) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit persons or corporations from making mechanical repairs to spectacles, nor shall it prohibit any person, firm, or corporation engaged in grinding lenses and filling prescriptions from replacing lenses or filling prescriptions issued by a duly licensed optometrist or physician. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 1714. Repealed. 2009, No. 35, § 41(a).

§ 1715. Licensure by examination

(a) The board may grant a license to an applicant who:

(1) has attained the age of majority;

(2) is a graduate of an optometric school or college accredited by a regional or professional accreditation organization approved by the board;

(3) has successfully completed an examination approved by the board; and

(4) has paid the fee required by section 1718 of this title.

(b) A failed examination may be retaken once free of charge and each examination thereafter shall be subject to payment of a fee. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2009, No. 35, § 29.)

§ 1716. Licensure by endorsement

The board may issue a license to an applicant who is licensed and currently in good standing in a United States jurisdiction having license requirements which are substantially equivalent to the requirements of this chapter. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1997, No. 40, § 23; 2009, No. 35, § 30.)

§ 1716a. Renewal

Licenses shall be renewed every two years upon payment of the required fee, provided that the person applying for renewal completes at least 20 hours of continuing education, approved by the board, during the preceding two-year period. If the applicant has a special endorsement for the use of pharmaceutical agents as provided in section 1729 of this title, the applicant shall, during the preceding two-year period, complete at least 40 hours of continuing education, approved by the board, of which at least 20 hours shall be related to the use of therapeutic pharmaceutical agents. The board may specify particular areas of study which must be completed to satisfy the requirements of this section. The board may, by rule, adopt continuing education requirements for those who renew their licenses after less than a full two-year period. (Added 1987, No. 236 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1993, No. 216 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 35, § 31.)

§ 1717. Repealed. 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.

§ 1718. Fees

Applicants and persons regulated under this chapter shall pay the

 following fees:

     (1) Application                                                                    $225.00

     (2) Biennial renewal                                                            $525.00

 (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 46; 1997, No. 59, § 56, eff. June 30, 1997; 2005, No. 202 (Adj. Sess.), § 15.)



Sub-Chapter 4: Unprofessional Conduct And Discipline

§ 1719. Unprofessional conduct

(a) Unprofessional conduct is the conduct prohibited by this section and by 3 V.S.A. § 129a, whether or not taken by a license holder.

(b) Unprofessional conduct means:

(1) Conduct which evidences moral unfitness to practice the occupation.

(2) Any of the following except when reasonably undertaken in an emergency situation in order to protect life, health, or property:

(A) Practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law.

(B) Performing treatments or providing services which a licensee is not qualified to perform or which are beyond the scope of the licensee's education, training, capabilities, experience, or scope of practice.

(C) Performing occupational services which have not been authorized by the consumer or his or her legal representative.

(3) Any of the following with regard to the buyer's prescription or purchase of ophthalmic goods:

(A) [Repealed.]

(B) Conditioning the availability of an eye examination to any person on a requirement that person agree to purchase any ophthalmic goods from the optometrists.

(C) Charging the buyer any fee in addition to the optometrist's examination fee as a condition to releasing the prescription to the buyer. Provided, an optometrist may charge an additional fee for verifying ophthalmic goods dispensed by another seller when the additional fee is imposed at the time the verification is performed.

(D) Placing on the prescription or requiring the buyer to sign, or delivering to the buyer a form or notice waiving or disclaiming the liability or responsibility of the optometrist for the accuracy of the eye examination or the accuracy of the prescription for ophthalmic goods or services to be dispensed by another seller.

(E) Failure to comply with prescription-released requirements established in the Federal Ophthalmic Practice Rule (16 C.F.R. Part 456) or the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (15 U.S.C.A. §§ 7601-7610).

(c) After hearing, the board may take disciplinary action against a licensee or applicant found guilty of unprofessional conduct. (Added 1979, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 242 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 7-9; 1993, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 41; 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.)

§§ 1720Repealed. 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 92.

§ 1721. Repealed. 2009, No. 35, § 41(a).


Sub-Chapter 5: Diagnostic Pharmaceutical Agents

§ 1723. Repealed. 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 53.

§ 1724. Expired.

§§ 1724aRepealed. 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 53.

§ 1725. Repealed. 2009, No. 35, § 41(a).

§ 1726. Repealed. 1993, No. 216 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.

§ 1727. Expiration date

An optometrist shall state the expiration date on the face of every prescription written by that optometrist for contact lenses. The expiration date shall be one year after the examination date unless a medical or refractive problem affecting vision requires an earlier expiration date. An optometrist may not refuse to give the buyer a copy of the buyer's prescription after the expiration date; however, the copy shall be clearly marked to indicate that it is an expired prescription. (Added 1993, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 25.)


Sub-Chapter 6: Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents

§ 1728. Use of therapeutic pharmaceutical agents

(a) An optometrist licensed under this chapter who possesses the endorsement required under section 1729 of this title, may:

(1) use and prescribe appropriate pharmaceutical agents for the diagnosis, management, and treatment of the eye and adnexa.

(2) remove superficial foreign bodies from the eye and adnexa, perform epilation of the eyelashes including electrolysis, punctal dilation, and lacrimal irrigation, and insert punctal plugs.

(b) Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to permit:

(1) the use of therapeutic ultrasound, the use of injections except for the appropriate emergency stabilization of a patient, or the performance of surgery. "Surgery" means any procedure in which human tissue is cut, penetrated, thermally or electrically cauterized except when performing electrolysis, or otherwise infiltrated by mechanical or laser means in a manner not specifically authorized by this act;

(2) the use of lasers for any procedure other than diagnostic testing; or

(3) a licensee to perform indocyanine green angiography, removal of benign skin lesions involving subcutaneous injections, sub-tenons injections, retrobulbar injections, intraocular injections, ketamine (IM) for an infant's examination under anesthesia, management of skin and conjunctival neoplasms, and botox injections. (Added 1993, No. 216 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; amended 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 13.)

§ 1728a. Permissible treatments; glaucoma types

(a) A licensee may treat the following types of glaucoma on patients who are 16 years of age or older:

(1) adult primary open angle glaucoma;

(2) exfoliative glaucoma;

(3) pigmentary glaucoma;

(4) low tension glaucoma;

(5) inflammatory (uveitic) glaucoma; and

(6) emergency treatment of angle closure glaucoma.

(b) This section shall not prohibit a licensee from administering appropriate emergency stabilization treatment to a patient. (Added 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)

§ 1728b. Repealed. 2005, No. 71, § 72b.

§ 1728c. Use of oral therapeutic pharmaceutical agent; communication with primary care provider

A licensee who employs an oral therapeutic pharmaceutical agent that might prove to have significant systemic adverse reactions or systemic side-effects shall, in a manner consistent with Vermont law, ascertain the risk of systemic side effects through either a case history or by communicating with the patient's primary care provider. The licensee shall also communicate with the patient's primary care provider, or with a physician skilled in diseases of the eye, when in the professional judgment of the licensee, it is medically appropriate. The communication shall be noted in the patient's permanent record. The methodology of communication shall be determined by the licensee. (Added 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; amended 2005, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)

§ 1728d. Duration of glaucoma treatment without referral

(a) If a glaucoma patient does not respond to up to three topically administered pharmaceutical agents within a reasonable time, the licensee shall refer the patient to a licensed ophthalmologist. No glaucoma patient shall be treated by an optometrist with more than three topically administered agents at any given time.

(b) If an oral medication is required to obtain an adequate clinical response, the licensee shall consult with a licensed ophthalmologist as soon as clinically prudent following initiation of the oral medication. This section shall not require that the licensee transfer care of the patient to the consulting ophthalmologist, but does require that the patient be seen by the consulting ophthalmologist. (Added 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 26.)

§ 1729. Endorsements and requirements

(a) Upon application, the board shall certify eligible licensees to use and prescribe therapeutic drugs and to perform those procedures authorized by subdivision 1728(a)(2) of this title, if the applicant meets the requirements of section 1715 of this chapter for licensure by examination or meets the requirements of section 1716 of this chapter for licensure by endorsement, and is authorized under the license of another jurisdiction to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.

(b) A licensee certified under this section shall affix current documentation of certification to the license in the manner provided by the board.

(c) A licensee who is certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents shall demonstrate proof of current cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification as a condition of initial certification and of license renewal. Acceptable courses shall include:

(1) courses in external cardiopulmonary resuscitation which are approved by the Vermont Heart Association or the American Red Cross; and

(2) courses which include a review of diseases or conditions which might produce emergencies such as anaphylactic shock, diabetes, heart condition, or epilepsy.

(d) A licensee certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents shall, as part of required continuing education, receive not less than 50 percent of his or her continuing education in the use of pharmaceuticals, including treating possible complications arising from their use, and the treatment of glaucoma. (Added 1993, No. 216 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; amended 2003, No. 60, § 6; 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2009, No. 35, § 32; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 15.)

§ 1729a. Prerequisites to treating glaucoma

A licensee who is already certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents and who graduated from a school of optometry prior to 2003 and is not certified in another jurisdiction having substantially similar prerequisites to treating glaucoma shall, in addition to being certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, provide to the board verification of successful completion of an 18-hour course and examination offered by the State University of New York State College of Optometry or similar accredited institution. Successful completion shall include passing an examination substantially equivalent to the relevant portions on glaucoma and orals of the examination given to current graduates of optometry school and shall require the same passing grade. The course shall cover the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and the use of oral medications and shall be taught by both optometrists and ophthalmologists. In addition, the licensee shall collaborate with an optometrist who has been licensed to treat glaucoma for at least two years or an ophthalmologist regarding his or her current glaucoma patients for six months and at least five new glaucoma patients before treating glaucoma patients independently. These five new glaucoma patients shall be seen at least once by the collaborating glaucoma-licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. (Added 2003, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; amended 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 27.)