ODOB > I Am Registered > Specialist Optometrist scope of practice – Ophthalmic laser surgeries

Specialist Optometrist scope of practice – Ophthalmic laser surgeries

Defining the scope

A practitioner registered in this scope is an optometrist registered in the Specialist Optometrist scope of practice – Ophthalmic laser surgeries (the Specialist optometrist) is authorised to perform specified ophthalmic surgical procedures below the mucous membrane or surface of the skin. Specifically, they are authorised to perform:

  • neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser capsulotomy; and/or
  • neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser peripheral iridotomy.

The practice of optometry within the Specialist Optometrist scope of practice includes:

  • the practice of optometry, as described in the Optometrist scope of practice, and
  • surgical or operative procedures, specifically for optometrist, and the performance of specified ophthalmic laser surgeries (a restricted activity under section 9 of the HPCA Act).

The Gazetted Specialist Optometrist scope of practice – Ophthalmic laser surgeries can be viewed here.

The Ophthalmic laser surgeries – Guidelines for New Zealand Optometrists

The Board has developed a detailed guidelines document for optometrists who wish to pursue training and registration in this scope of practice.

Guidelines for NZ Optometrists – Opthalmic laser surgery (v1.0)

The guidelines will be reviewed by the Board on a regular basis to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

The pre-requisites

To be considered for training in this scope, an optometrist must:

  • hold registration in the Optometrist scope of practice and not be subject to any conditions; and
  • have worked in a hospital ophthalmology department for a minimum of three years with at least 400 hours in a relevant clinic.

The process: Pre-training to registration

Once an optometrist meets these requirements, they can apply to begin training. The training programme consists of a theory and skills-based component. The Board approves every step of the training requirements.

The Gazetted prescribed qualification can be viewed here.

To apply for training, complete the Application for training (LAS1).

The Board approved the following types of clinics that would be suitable for training:

  • YAG capsulotomy: any slit lamp-based in-person clinic, such as for anterior segment, uveitis, medical retina, surgical retina, glaucoma, acutes; and/or
  • YAG laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI): clinics treating glaucoma, and acutes related to glaucoma

Any other clinical setting will need Board-approval.

By successfully completing the training programme, the optometrist will meet the requirements to enable them to apply for registration in the Specialist Optometrist scope of practice – Ophthalmic laser surgeries (Registration pathway 6).

Click here to view a visual representation of the process. The orange arrows indicate which steps of the process require approval of a submission to the Board before proceeding to the next step. This has been further explained by the text in the orange blocks. The number in parenthesis indicates the required form to be submitted to the Board from the appendices in the guidelines document above.

Once training has been completed, and to register, complete the Application for an additional scope – Specialist Optometrist (REG5).

Please direct any registration queries to registrations@odob.health.nz.

Recertification requirements

It is the optometrist’s responsibility to ensure that they meet the on-going competency requirements for both the Optometrist scope of practice as well as the additional requirements relevant to the Specialist Optometrist scope of practice, which are in addition and annual.

The additional requirements while practising within the Specialist Optometrist scope of practice are:

  • maintaining a collegial relationship with a registered ophthalmologist working at the Board-approved location where they are performing the laser surgery; and
  • maintaining competence in laser safety by completing a Board-approved laser safety course every 2 years. (The Board has a list of accredited providers); and
  • submitting to the Board’s Annual Continuing Competency Declaration (LAS6) for each year that surgeries have been performed.

Full details are explained in the Guidelines for NZ Optometrists – Opthalmic laser surgery (v1.0).

Please direct any recertification queries to cpd@odob.health.nz.