Vision Care and Eyeglasses
State Question 793 developed out of an initiative petition to allow retail establishments to provide optometric services on their premises.
This proposal, if approved, would allow people to receive eye exams and purchase eyeglasses and contact lenses from retail establishments such as Walmart, Costco, and Target, rather than solely in optometry offices.
Oklahoma is one of three states, including Delaware and Rhode Island, that do not permit optometric services in retail establishments.
The proposed constitutional change does include certain limits as outlined in the ballot title language, such as those allowing the Legislature to restrict surgeries within retail establishments and limit the number of locations for an optometrist. Current laws and regulations prohibit retail establishments from selling prescription glasses and contacts unless a majority of the establishment’s income comes from the sale of prescription optical goods and materials.
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PROPONENTS SAY: YES
- The measure would save consumers money because large retailers can offer lower prices by making bulk purchases at lower costs.
- Patients would have more options for choosing where they get their eye care and eyewear.
- Current Oklahoma law is designed to preserve an outdated monopoly, when 47 other states now allow these services in large retail stores.
- Oklahoma’s economy would benefit because more consumers would buy eyewear from stores located here instead of from out-of-state online retailers.
OPPONENTS SAY: NO
- Giant retailers would gain a degree of control over an optometric physician’s scope of practice, which conflicts with the Oklahoma Board of Examiners of Optometry guidelines.
- The quality of care will be compromised by the profit motive of large retailers, who could pressure optometrists to increase eyewear sales and the number of patients seen in a workday.
- The measure would hurt Oklahoma’s economy by driving out local optometric practices in smaller communities and sending more retail profits to companies based out of state.
- Patients would end up with reduced options for eye care and eyewear if the retail establishment only sells its branded eyewear products.
This measure adds a new Section 3 to Article 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Under the new Section, no law shall infringe on optometrists’ or opticians’ ability to practice within a retail mercantile establishment, discriminate against optometrists or opticians based on the location of their practice, or require external entrances for optometric offices within retail mercantile establishments. No law shall infringe on retail mercantile establishments’ ability to sell prescription optical goods and services. The Section allows the Legislature to restrict optometrists from performing surgeries within retail mercantile establishments, limit the number of locations at which an optometrist may practice, maintain optometric licensing requirements, require optometric offices to be in a separate room of a retail mercantile establishment, and impose health and safety standards. It does not prohibit optometrists and opticians from agreeing with retail mercantile establishments to limit their practice. Laws conflicting with this Section are void. The Section defines “laws,” “optometrist,” “optician,” “optical goods and services,” and “retail mercantile establishment.”