Article 1 - General Provisions
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms shall have the respective meaning ascribed by this section:
(1) BOARD. The Alabama Board of Optometry
(2) HUMAN EYE AND ITS ADJACENT STRUCTURES. The eye and all structures situated within the orbit, including the conjunctiva, lids, lashes, and lachrymal system.
(3) PHARMACEUTICAL AGENTS. Any diagnostic and therapeutic drug or combination of drugs that has the property of assisting in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or mitigation of abnormal conditions or symptoms of the human eye and its adjacent structures.
(4) PRACTICE OF OPTOMETRY. The practice of optometry is a learned profession involving the examination, measurement by objective and subjective means, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of any departure from the normal of the human eyes, their adjacent structures, and visual system. The practice of optometry includes, but is not limited to: The adapting and fitting of all types of lenses or devices, including , contact lenses; the determination of refractive error and shape of the eye and visual, muscular or anatomical anomalies of the eye through the use of any means including the use of self testing device and the use of any computerized or automatic refracting device; the determination and prescribing of spectacle or contact lens parameters; the administering and prescription of pharmaceutical agents rational to the diagnosis and treatment of disease of the human eye and its adjacent structures; the removal of superficial foreign bodies from the human eye and its adjacent structures; the providing of developmental and perceptual therapy for the vision system; the utilization of any method or means to diagnose and treat diseases of the human eye and its adjacent structures as determined and approved by the board, subject to the limitations of this act; the performance of primary eye care procedures or ordering of laboratory tests rational to the diagnosis and treatment of conditions or diseases of the human eye and its adjacent structures as determined and approved by the board, subject to the limitations of this act. The practice of optometry shall include the prescribing and administering of narcotic analgesics pursuant to the Alabama Uniform Controlled Substances Act, except for narcotic analgesics classified under Schedule I and II, and any Schedule III pharmaceutical agents that contain Dihydrocodeinone (Hydrocodone). The prescribing or administering of any other Schedule III pharmaceutical agent shall be limited to a prescription, the duration of which does not exceed 96 hours. Notwithstanding any provision of this act to the contrary, the practice of optometry shall include the prescribing and administering of pharmaceutical agents which are commonly known as steroids. Optometrists are prohibited from performing injections into the eyeball, cataract surgery, muscle surgery, retinal surgery, radial keratotomy, laser surgery, cryosurgery, or any other invasive surgery. The Alabama Board of Optometry shall be a certifying board as defined in Section 20-2-2, except as limited by this act. The practice of optometry shall include the authority to administer benedryl, epinephrine, or other medication to counteract anaphylaxis or anaphylactic reaction. The use and prescribing of pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of the human eye and its adjacent structures shall be limited to those optometrists approved by the board.
§34-22-2. Objects and purposes of chapter.
The practice of optometry is hereby declared to affect the public health, safety and welfare, and optometry is subject to regulation and control in the public interest. It is further declared to be a matter of public interest and concern that the practice of optometry, as defined in this chapter, be limited to qualified persons admitted to practice optometry in the state of Alabama pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. This chapter shall be liberally construed to carry out these objects and purposes. (Acts 1975, No. 1148, p. 2257. 1
§34-22-3. Intent of chapter.
It is intended that this chapter shall furnish a complete and exclusive system, of and in itself, for obtaining the right to practice optometry in the state of Alabama and for the regulation of the practice of optometry therein; provided, that it is the intent of the legislature that this chapter shall not have the effect of repealing any laws not dealing with the profession of optometry and specifically shall not have the effect of repealing section 34-24-292. (Acts 1975, No. 1148, p. 2257, 18.)
§34-22-4. Limitation on application of chapter.
(a)It is not the intent of this chapter to prevent any school teacher, welfare worker, state, county, municipality or other public board, body, agency, institution or official from determining in the course of their official duties the probable need of visual services; provided, that the aforenamed person or agency does not attempt to examine, diagnose or prescribe or to recommend any particular practitioner and complies with the provisions of section 38-1-2.
(b)A license to practice optometry shall not be required for the sale, preparation, or dispensing of eyeglasses or spectacles in a retail optical dispensary or from a store, shop, or other permanently established place of business with an optical department on prescription of a duly licensed physician skilled in diseases of the eyes or a duly licensed optometrist authorized to practice under the laws of this state. Contact lenses may be sold or dispensed in a retail optical dispensary or other permanently established place of business with an optical department only when authorized by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, the prescription therefor contains all necessary data, and the prescription has not expired. This section shall not be construed as authorizing any optician or other person selling eyeglasses or contact lenses on prescription as authorized above to use any instrumentation or determine any data by performing any type of examination or corneal evaluation necessary for the fitting of contact lenses or to use any drugs in relation thereto.
(c) Nothing in this chapter shall apply in any way to any licensed physician, nor to any physician assistant or ophthalmic assistant program conducted under any accredited state university program, nor to any physician's assistant as defined in section 34- 24-292. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as preventing an ophthalmologist from using assistants normally used in his or her practice under his or her direct personal supervision in the office in which the ophthalmologist normally actually practices his or her profession and nowhere else.
§34-22-5. Limited teaching licenses.The board may, under rules and regulations to be promulgated by the board, issue limited licenses, in the case of teachers, to persons who hold an optometric degree where such persons are not licensed and registered to practice optometry in this state. The dean of any school of optometry within the state of Alabama which has been approved by the board shall be required to annually certify to the board the names and addresses of the members of the faculty of the school who are not licensed and registered to practice optometry in the state and shall be required to promptly notify the board of any change in personnel on the faculty. The board may issue limited licenses to applicants upon the certification of the dean of any school of optometry setting forth that the applicant is a bona fide member of the faculty of the school. The limited license shall be valid so long as the holder thereof remains a member of the faculty of the school and abides by the rules and regulations under which the same is issued. The holder of a limited license shall be subject to all provisions of this chapter regulating the practice of optometry in this state and shall be entitled to perform all services which a person licensed to practice optometry in this state would be entitled to perform, but only as a part of the program of the school and as an adjunct to his or her teaching functions in the school. A fee of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be paid by the applicant to the board for the issuance of a limited license. Limited license holders who are not members of a residency program at a school of optometry shall be subject to the same annual license renewal fees and other requirements as required of holders of regular licenses. (Acts 1975, No. 1148, p. 2257, 12.)
§34-22-6. Violations; penalties; assistance in prosecutions.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to perform any of the following:
(1) Practice optometry in this state without having a valid, unrevoked, and unexpired license certificate and annual renewal registration certificate as an optometrist.
(2) Use or attempt to use as his or her own a diploma of an optometric school or college or a license of another person, or a forged diploma or license, or any forged or false identification.
(3) Sell or offer to sell a diploma conferring an optometric degree or a license granted pursuant to this chapter or prior optometric practice laws, or to procure such diploma or license with intent that it shall be used as evidence of the right to practice optometry by a person other than the one upon whom it was conferred or to whom the license was granted, or with fraudulent intent to alter the diploma or license or to use or attempt to use it when it is so altered.
(4) Willfully make any false statement in an application for examination for a certificate to practice optometry or for annual registration.
(5) Use or attempt to use pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of the human eye and its adjacent structures without having approval of the board at the time the treatment is rendered.
(b)(1) Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1000.00) and, in addition, may be imprisoned in the county jail for a period not to exceed 12 months and shall be subject to having his or her license revoked or suspended as provided in this chapter.
(2) The board and its members and officers shall assist prosecuting officers in the enforcement of this chapter, and it shall be the duty of the board, its members, and officers, to furnish the proper prosecuting officers with the evidence as they may ascertain necessary to assist them in the prosecution of any violation of this chapter. The board may for these purposes make such reasonable expenditures from the funds of the board as it may deem necessary to ascertain and furnish the evidence.
(3) In addition to criminal penalties, any person violating this Section may be fined up to one thousand dollars ($1000) by the board for each violation. The board may sue, if necessary, to collect the fine.
(4) The board is entitled to costs and reasonable attorney fees in any civil action in which it prevails.
(5) Venue for any action brought by the board pursuant to this act is the Circuit Court of Montgomery County.
The board may enjoin violations of any provision of this chapter by proceeding in accordance with the provisions of section 6-6-502.
§34-22-8. Disciplinary action; charges; hearing; judicial procedure; appeals; sanctions; immunity of board, etc., from suit.
(a) Any person, including a licensed optometrist may initiate a charge of violation of the provisions of this chapter or a charge of misconduct by a licensed optometrist by filing with the secretary of the board a written statement under oath of the charge or charges against the accused. If a member of the board files a charge, the member shall not participate in the hearing or disposition of the charge, except to the extent of giving testimony in connection with the charge. The member filing the charge shall not be present during the hearing or deliberation of the charge except to give testimony. A discreet preliminary investigation into the charge or charges shall be made by the board, after which, if the board is reasonably satisfied that the charge or charges are not frivolous, the board shall hear the charge or charges under rules of procedure to be established by the board. A quorum of the board shall be present at all times during the hearing and deliberation and action thereon. A time and place, either within the city of Montgomery, Alabama or the county in which the accused resides for the hearing of the charge or charges shall be fixed by the board as soon as convenient. A copy of the charge or charges, together with a written notice of the time and place of the hearing, and a copy of the rules of procedure adopted by the board for the hearing shall be served on the accused at least 20 days before the date fixed for the hearing, by leaving a copy thereof at his or her last and usual place of residence, by personal service upon the accused, or by forwarding a copy to the accused via United States registered mail, with a return receipt requested, addressed to him or her at his or her last known mailing address, if a resident of the state of Alabama. If the accused is not a resident of Alabama or has departed from the state of Alabama, then notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the accused is last known to have resided, three weeks prior to the hearing, setting out the time and place of the hearing. At least five days before the time of the hearing, the accused shall file with the secretary of the board an answer to the written charges together with a list of witnesses which the accused desires to be subpoenaed for the hearing. At the hearing, witnesses may be examined respecting the charge or charges. The board or the accused, or both, may require the attendance of witnesses, the production of books, records, and papers pertinent to the issues and, either or both may require the secretary of the board to issue a subpoena for any witnesses or a subpoena duces tecum to compel the production of any books, records, papers, or documents, which shall be directed to the sheriff of the county where the witness resides or is to be found. The subpoena shall be served and returned in the same manner as subpoenas in civil cases in the circuit court are served and returned. If any person is subpoenaed to appear before the board and fails to obey the subpoena without reasonable cause, or if any witness upon any hearing before the board refuses to be sworn, or to be examined, or to produce a book, record, paper, or document, as ordered by the board, this fact shall be certified by the board to the circuit court or the judge thereof in the county where the witness resides, and the witness shall be ordered and directed by the court to appear before the board and testify or produce such books, papers, records, or documents as are ordered by the board. At the hearing, the accused may cross-examine the witnesses against him or her, produce witnesses in his or her defense, appear personally or by counsel, or both, and have the testimony taken down by a stenographer, but the expenses of counsel and stenographer shall be borne by the accused. A majority of the quorum of members of the board conducting the hearings shall render a decision on the merits of the charge or charges and, if warranted by the evidence, impose appropriate sanctions.
(b)In all cases of suspension or revocation of licenses or of other disciplinary sanctions imposed by the board, the accused may appeal only to the Circuit Court of Montgomery county, Alabama, not withstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary. Except as otherwise provided herein, judicial review of the orders and decisions of the board shall be governed by the provisions of Sections 41-22-1 to 41-22-27, inclusive, the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act.
(c) Members of the board, and the members of any committee of optometrists impaneled by the board, and any other optometrist and individual making any report or rendering any opinion, or service, or supplying any evidence or information or offering any testimony to the board in connection with a disciplinary investigation or proceeding as authorized in this chapter shall be immune from suit for any conduct with respect to the investigations, actions, hearings, and proceedings.