Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 32. Optometry

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 54.1-3200. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the Board of Optometry.

"Optometrist" means any person practicing the profession of optometry as defined in this chapter and the regulations of the Board.

"Practice of optometry" means practice in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-3201.

"TPA-certified optometrist" means an optometrist who is licensed under this chapter and who has successfully completed the requirements for TPA certification established by the Board pursuant to Article 5 (§ 54.1-3222 et seq.).

The foregoing shall not restrict the authority of any optometrist licensed or certified under this chapter for the removal of superficial foreign bodies from the human eye and its adnexa or from delegating to personnel in his personal employ and supervised by him, such activities or functions as are nondiscretionary and do not require the exercise of professional judgment for their performance and which are usually or customarily delegated to such persons by optometrists, if such activities or functions are authorized by and performed for such optometrists and responsibility for such activities or functions is assumed by such optometrists.

Code 1950, § 54-368; 1988, cc. 243, 737, 765; 1991, c. 290; 1996, cc. 152, 158, 365, 436; 2004, c. 744; 2015, c. 355; 2018, c. 280; 2022, cc. 16, 17.

§ 54.1-3201. What constitutes practice of optometry.

A. The practice of optometry includes:

1. Examination of the human eye to ascertain the presence of defects or abnormal conditions that may be corrected or relieved by the use of lenses, prisms or ocular exercises, or visual training or orthoptics and the prescribing or adapting of lenses, prisms or ocular exercises, or visual training or orthoptics for the correction, relief, remediation, or prevention of such conditions;

2. Employment of any subjective or objective mechanism to determine the accommodative or refractive states of the human eye or range or power of vision of the human eye;

3. Use of testing appliances for the purpose of the measurement of the powers of vision;

4. Examination, diagnosis, and optometric treatment in accordance with this chapter of conditions and visual or muscular anomalies of the human eye;

5. Evaluation, examination, diagnosis, and treatment of abnormal or diseased conditions of the human eye and its adnexa by the use of medically recognized and appropriate devices, procedures, or technologies;

6. Preoperative and postoperative care related to the human eye and adnexa; and

7. Use of diagnostic pharmaceutical agents set forth in § 54.1-3221.

B. Except as provided in §§ 54.1-3222 and 54.1-3225, the practice of optometry does not include treatment through:

1. Surgery, including:

a. Retina laser procedures; laser procedures into the vitreous chamber of the eye to treat vitreous, retinal, or macular disease; laser in situ keratomileusis and photorefractive keratectomy eye surgery; or other laser surgery;

b. Penetrating keratoplasty and corneal transplants;

c. Surgery (i) related to removal of the eye; (ii) requiring a full-thickness incision or excision of the cornea or sclera; (iii) requiring physical incision of the iris and ciliary body, including the diathermy, and cryotherapy; (iv) requiring incision of the vitreous humor or retina; (v) requiring full-thickness conjunctivoplasty with a graft or flap; (vi) of the eyelid for incisional cosmetic or functional repair, or blepharochalasis, ptosis, or tarsorrhaphy treatment; (vii) of the bony orbit, including orbital implants; (viii) requiring surgical extraction of the crystalline lens; or (ix) requiring surgical anterior or posterior chamber intraocular implants; or

d. Incisional or excisional surgery of the (i) extraocular muscles; (ii) lacrimal system, other than probing or related procedures; or (iii) pterygium surgery;

2. Cryotherapy of the ciliary body;

3. Iodizing radiation;

4. The use of injections, including venipuncture and intravenous injections;

5. Administration of or surgery using general anesthesia; or

6. Other invasive modalities.

C. An optometrist may (i) treat certain diseases or abnormal conditions of the human eye and its adnexa with certain therapeutic pharmaceutical agents as permitted under this chapter and (ii) administer intramuscular epinephrine for the treatment of emergency cases of anaphylactic shock.

D. Any person who in any way advertises himself as an optometrist or uses the title of doctor of optometry (O.D.) or any other letters or title in connection with his name which in any way conveys the impression that he is engaged in the practice of optometry shall be deemed to be practicing optometry within the meaning of this chapter.

Code 1950, § 54-368; 1988, cc. 243, 737, 765; 2022, cc. 16, 17.

§ 54.1-3202. Exemptions.

This chapter shall not apply to:

1. Physicians licensed to practice medicine by the Board of Medicine or to prohibit the sale of nonprescription eyeglasses and sunglasses;

2. Any optometrist rendering free health care to an underserved population in the Commonwealth who (i) does not regularly practice optometry in the Commonwealth; (ii) holds a current valid license or certificate to practice optometry in another state, territory, district, or possession of the United States; (iii) volunteers to provide free health care in an underserved area of the Commonwealth under the auspices of a publicly supported, all volunteer nonprofit organization that sponsors the provision of health care to populations of underserved people; (iv) files a copy of his license or certification in such other jurisdiction with the Board; (v) notifies the Board at least five business days prior to the voluntary provision of services of the dates and location of such service; and (vi) acknowledges, in writing, that such licensure exemption shall only be valid, in compliance with the Board's regulations, during the limited period that such free health care is made available through the volunteer nonprofit organization on the dates and at the location filed with the Board. The Board may deny the right to practice in the Commonwealth to any optometrist whose license or certificate has been previously suspended or revoked, who has been convicted of a felony, or who is otherwise found to be in violation of applicable laws or regulations. However, the Board shall allow an optometrist who meets the criteria of this subdivision to provide volunteer services without prior notice for a period of up to three days, provided the nonprofit organization verifies that the practitioner has a valid, unrestricted license in another state; or

3. Any student, intern, or trainee in optometry who is performing optometric services under the direct supervision of a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist as part of a course of study at an accredited institution of higher education.

Code 1950, § 54-369; 1988, c. 765; 2002, c. 740; 2008, c. 674; 2009, cc. 353, 761; 2023, c. 268.

§ 54.1-3203. License to be displayed.

Every person practicing optometry shall display his license in a conspicuous place in the principal office in which he practices.

Code 1950, § 54-386; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3204. Prohibited acts.

It shall be unlawful for any person:

1. To practice optometry in this Commonwealth without holding a license issued by the Board. Practicing or offering to practice optometry, or the public representation of being qualified to practice the same by any person not authorized to practice optometry, shall be sufficient evidence of a violation of the law.

2. To impersonate a licensed optometrist of like or different name.

3. To buy or sell or fraudulently obtain a diploma or license.

4. To do any act for which if he were an optometrist his license could be revoked as provided by this chapter.

5. To possess any trial lenses, trial frames, graduated test cards, appliances or instruments used in the practice of optometry, self-testing devices or eyeglass vending machines for the purpose of fitting or prescribing glasses in the practice of optometry, unless he is or unless he regularly employs on the premises a licensed optometrist or a licensed physician.

6. To publish or cause to be published in any manner an advertisement that is false, deceptive or misleading, contains a claim of professional superiority or violates regulations of the Board governing advertising by optometrists.

7. To sell, provide, furnish, supply or duplicate eyeglasses, or lenses for the correction of vision without the prescription of a licensed physician or licensed optometrist, unless he is the holder of a license to practice optometry or a license to practice medicine under the laws of this Commonwealth.

8. To sell or dispense contact lenses, including plano or cosmetic lenses, without holding a license issued by the Board. This subdivision shall not apply to a licensed optician operating or working in a retail establishment, when selling or dispensing contact lenses, including plano or cosmetic lenses, upon the valid written prescription of an individual licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy, or a licensed optometrist.

9. To dispense, administer, or sell an ophthalmic device containing Schedule III, IV, or VI controlled substances or an over-the-counter medication without holding a license issued by the Board, including TPA certification. An "ophthalmic device" shall mean any device, as defined in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) customarily used primarily for ophthalmic purposes, including an ophthalmic device classified by the United States Food and Drug Administration as a drug. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude a pharmacist from dispensing an ophthalmic device, as defined in this subsection, upon the written and valid prescription of an optometrist, providing the patient is then advised by the pharmacist to return for follow-up care to the optometrist prescribing the ophthalmic device.

The provisions of this section shall be enforced in accordance with this chapter and § 54.1-2506.

Code 1950, § 54-396; 1976, c. 758; 1977, c. 161; 1979, c. 39; 1988, c. 765; 2009, cc. 353, 761.

§ 54.1-3205. Practicing in a commercial or mercantile establishment.

A. It shall be unlawful for any optometrist to practice his profession as a lessee of or in a commercial or mercantile establishment, or to advertise, either in person or through any commercial or mercantile establishment, that he is a licensed practitioner and is practicing or will practice optometry as a lessee of or in the commercial or mercantile establishment.

B. No licensed optometrist shall practice optometry as an employee, directly or indirectly, of a commercial or mercantile establishment, unless such commercial or mercantile establishment was employing a full-time licensed optometrist in its established place of business on June 21, 1938.

C. For the purposes of this section, the term "commercial or mercantile establishment" means a business enterprise engaged in the selling of commodities.

D. For the purposes of this section, an optometrist shall be deemed to be practicing in a commercial or mercantile establishment if he practices, whether directly or indirectly, as an officer, employee, lessee or agent of any person or entity in any location that provides direct access to or from a commercial or mercantile establishment. Direct access includes any entrance or exit, except an entrance or exit closed to the public and used solely for emergency egress pursuant to applicable state and local building and fire safety codes, that prohibits a person from exiting the building or structure occupied by such practice or establishment (i) onto an exterior sidewalk or public way or (ii) into a common area that is not under the control of either the optometry practice or the commercial or mercantile establishment, such as into the common areas of an enclosed shopping mall. For the purposes of this section, neither an optometric practice nor an ophthalmologic practice which sells eyeglasses or contact lenses ancillary to its practice shall be deemed a commercial or mercantile establishment. Further, any entity that is engaged in the sale of eyeglasses or contact lenses, the majority of the beneficial ownership of which is owned by an ophthalmologic practice and/or one or more ophthalmologists, shall not be deemed a commercial or mercantile establishment.

E. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the rendering of professional services to the officers and employees of any person, firm or corporation by an optometrist, whether or not the compensation for such service is paid by the officers and employees, or by the employer, or jointly by all or any of them.

Code 1950, §§ 54-388, 54-397.1; 1968, c. 505; 1976, c. 758; 1977, c. 161; 1979, c. 39; 1988, c. 765; 2005, cc. 711, 720.

§ 54.1-3205.1. Supervision by unlicensed persons prohibited.

No optometrist shall be directly or indirectly supervised within the scope of the practice of optometry by any officer, employee, or agent of a commercial or mercantile establishment, as defined in subsection C of § 54.1-3205, who is not a Virginia-licensed optometrist or physician. No officer, employee, or agent of a commercial or mercantile establishment, who is not a Virginia-licensed optometrist or physician, shall directly or indirectly control, dictate, or influence the professional judgment, including but not limited to the level or type of care or services rendered, of the practice of optometry by a licensed optometrist.

1990, c. 307.

§ 54.1-3206. Report of conviction or injunction to Board; revocation or suspension of license.

It shall be the duty of the clerk of every circuit court in which any person is convicted of any violation of this chapter or enjoined from unlawfully practicing optometry to report the same to the Board. The Board may thereupon suspend or revoke any certificate or license held by the person so convicted or enjoined. Every such report shall be directed to the secretary of the Board.

1979, c. 39, § 54-398.02; 1988, c. 765.