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New Law Brings An End To Long-Running 'Eyeball Wars'

Florida’s optometrists now have more authority in prescribing medications under a bill signed into law Monday. The new law brings a decades-long battle between optometrists and ophthalmologists to a close.

Optometrists can now prescribe more medications. But there are limits on types of meds they can give. Judi Spann represents the ophthalmologists, which pushed for the limits. She says the issue has flown under the radar for most Floridians, because there’s confusion between what the two groups do.                        

“There are many things an ophthalmologist can do that an optometrist can’t do, for example: surgery on the eye. So it’s important that Floridians know the limitations of their healthcare professionals and what type of healthcare professional they need to see," she said.

The federal health law is aimed at getting people more access to insurance, and by extension, doctors. And as the law continues to be implanted, providers are being called on to do more. Spann says even as some groups look to expand their roles to meet that demand, there are still limits between what different groups can and can’t do.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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