California governor vetoes bill that would have reduced licensing requirements to perfom eye surgery

AB 2236 would have allowed optometrists to perform anterior segment laser and minor procedures which involve the use of a scalpel or injections.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week vetoed AB 2236, which would have reduced the medical education, clinical, and surgical training requirements to become licensed in California to perform eye surgery.

The proposal would have allowed optometrists to perform anterior segment laser and minor procedures which involve the use of a scalpel or injections.

“I am not convinced that the education and training required is sufficient to prepare optometrists to perform the surgical procedures identified,” Newsom wrote in the veto to the general assembly. “This bill would allow optometrists to perform advanced surgical procedures with less than one year of training.

In comparison, Newsom noted in the statement that physicians who perform these procedures must complete at least a three-year residency program.

“For this reason, I cannot sign this bill,” Newsom wrote.

During a panel discussion at the Eyecelerator event at the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 2022 annual meeting at McCormick Place in Chicago, Stephen McLeod, CEO of the AAO, noted that Newsom’s veto helps to ensure patient safety.

Several other groups had stepped up to oppose the measure.

In opposing AB 2236, the California Medical Association pointed out that the measure did not require adequate training to assure competency of candidates who would be certified to perform these procedures, and actually has loopholes that undermine the training requirements of the bill.

The American Society of Retina Specialists and Safe Eyes America had also stepped up to voice their opposition prior to a vote on the proposal, pointing out that a reduction in surgical licensing requirements would be detrimental to patient surgical outcomes and safety.