TORONTO, April 6 /CNW/ - The Ontario Government approved a regulation
today that allows Ontario's optometrists to start prescribing
medications for their patients. Optometrists will now be able to
prescribe treatments for conditions ranging from routine bacterial eye
infections to more serious diseases including glaucoma. The change will
alleviate wait times in emergency rooms and walk-in clinics for
patients with eye-related problems.
"This is great news for our patients and everyone in Ontario," notes Dr.
John Mastronardi of Windsor, President of the Ontario Association of
Optometrists (OAO). "Most of our members have been educated and trained
to prescribe medications for years. We are pleased that the Ontario
government has made changes that will broaden access to medically
necessary services across the province."
While Ontario is one of the last provinces to en-act this regulation,
the new regulation has the widest scope in Canada and brings about the
most benefits to patients.
For patient Jason Secord of Acton, he applauds the decision. "A few
years ago, I almost lost the vision in my right eye because of a
condition called iritis. I went to my optometrist and he knew what was
wrong but he couldn't prescribe the drops that I needed. Now if I ever
have a problem again, I can go to my optometrist right away without
putting my eye health at risk by waiting to see three different doctors
Today's decision by the Ontario government means better healthcare and
shorter wait times for patients while reducing costs for taxpayers.
The Executive Director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind
(CNIB) Ontario, Paul Ting, also applauded the news. "This will make
great strides in the treatment of all eye care," says Ting. "Seventy
five percent of vision loss is preventable or treatable. Preventing
blindness is an urgent challenge with an aging population, and this
will drastically improve access to clinical care."
Optometrists are eye doctors who are university educated and clinically
trained to diagnose and treat disorders of the eye and visual system.
Optometrists complete a four year professional doctorate degree program
and are regulated by the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
For more information on the eye conditions that optometrists can now
treat and prescribe, please visit the Ontario Association of
Optometrists website at: www.eyecareoao.com.
Founded in 1909, OAO is the voluntary professional organization that
represents more than 1,400 optometrists in Ontario. The Association
proudly serves the profession by undertaking government advocacy,
membership education and public awareness initiatives.
OAO Backgrounder: Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents (TPA) Regulation
The Government of Ontario has approved a regulation of the College of
Optometrists of Ontario (College) designating the drugs (therapeutic
pharmaceutical agents - TPAs) that optometrists are authorized to
prescribe. Effective immediately, accredited Ontario optometrists can
prescribe medication to treat eye diseases and conditions including:
Bacterial and viral eye infections
Red eye due to contact lens wear
Eyelid infection and inflammation
Inflammation of the eye
Allergies affecting the eyes
Superficial foreign bodies
Only those optometrists who have demonstrated their compliance with the
College's Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents Policy: Educational
Requirements for Members to Prescribe Drugs (TPA Education Policy) -
which ensures an appropriate educational background, proof of
competence and currency of knowledge - are authorized to prescribe the
drugs listed in the regulation.
The Ontario Cabinet's approval of this regulation is the culmination of
many years of hard work by the Ontario Association of Optometrists,
which has long advocated for this government action to improve patient
access to high quality, eye health care services close to home.
The legislative authority to prescribe drugs was given to optometrists
on June 4, 2007 through the enactment of the Health System Improvements Act, 2007, which amended the Optometry Act, 1991 to expand optometry's scope of practice.
As required by law, the College consulted many stakeholders, including
the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other regulated health
professions, in the development of the regulation before submitting it
for Cabinet approval in December 2010.
Support for this legislated scope of practice expansion and regulation
runs deep. In April 2006, the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory
Council (HPRAC) - an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and
Long-Term Care - recommended that optometrists be able to prescribe
TPAs. HPRAC re-affirmed this recommendation in its January 2009 report,
SOURCE Ontario Association of Optometrists
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