Optometrists respond to State Question 793 impact if voted into law
TULSA, Okla., (KTUL) -- If State Question 793 passes it could have a huge impact on eye clinics statewide.
It would allow big box stores like Walmart to give eye exams and prescribe glasses.
Barbara Fisher is one of the may patients Jason Ellen sees daily.
The optometrist works at Oklahoma Medical Eye Group in Jenks.
His main goal is to identify any diseases and do so thoroughly.
Which is why he’s scared of what state question 793 could do.
“Convenience may be a valid concern because I can now go get bread, get my tires changed, get dinner tonight and get my eye examined at the same time," said Jason Ellen.
State Question 793 claims it will provide affordable eye care for all Oklahomans, by allowing optometrists to practice in retail stores like Walmart.
But Jason cautions against that.
“Large box stores will be will be pressuring some within their stores to provide a less than standard of care to generate profits for them," said Ellen.
Jason says one of the leaders of the group behind the state question, Timothy Tippit, owns optical stores in other states.
And he says while the group has good intentions, Jason is afraid oversight will be lacking.
“This will be the only state in the nation where the governance of that optometrist will be provided by the store in which they’re housed, and the only state in the nation where it’ll be state out in a constitutional question," said Ellen.
But on the phone today Tippitt made clear his intentions if the question becomes law.
He says the goal is to just allow the convenience of giving patients their exams and glasses in one stop.
Be it at a retail store like Walmart or a separate business.
Ultimately Tippitt, who owns eye care offices in Michigan and Ohio, wants Oklahoma to have a level playing field.
So far more than 250,000 signatures have been collected to put the question on the ballot in November.
Walmart releaesd a statement to us today saying quote
“Any practicing optometrist is held to the same licensing standards in our stores, and patients who visit a Walmart vision center receive the same diagnostic services and exams available at any other eye care provider.”