On Tuesday, the California Medical Association and the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons filed a lawsuit seeking to block the implementation of new state rules allowing optometrists to treat patients with glaucoma, the Orange County Register reports (Joseph, Orange County Register, 1/12).
The groups filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the California Board of Optometry.
The new rules, which took effect Jan. 8, allow optometrists to treat and manage glaucoma after undergoing a certification process that does not involve treating patients with glaucoma (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 1/13).
The new certification process applies to individuals who graduated from accredited optometry schools prior to May 1, 2008 (Board of Optometry rule, 12/10/10).
Previous state regulations required optometrists to treat 50 patients with glaucoma over a two-year period under ophthalmologist supervision before receiving authorization to treat the condition.
According to CMA and CAEPS, the new state rules were established under a faulty process because a consultant hired to advise a key committee was not certified to treat glaucoma.
CMA President James Hinsdale said the regulations "jeopardize the quality of eye care Californians deserve."
The plaintiffs also highlighted a recent case in which several patients with glaucoma experienced significant vision loss after receiving treatment from optometrists at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in Palo Alto.
The California Optometric Association could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit, according to HealthLeaders Media.
In a previous statement on its website, COA praised an administrative law judge's decision to approve the Board of Optometry's new regulations. The association said the new rules would help to address shortages of eye physicians in rural and underserved areas (HealthLeaders Media, 1/13).