2020 Annual Report
January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020
|Mesheca C. Bunyon, O.D.||President|| 5/31/23|
|Kelechi Mezu Nnabue, O.D.||Secretary|| 5/31/24|
|Rona D. Pepper,||Consumer Member/ Treasurer|| 5/31/24|
|Francisco Burgos, O.D.||Member|| 5/31/25|
|Mark B. Gordon, O.D.||Member ||5/31/22|
|Margaret Hubbard||Consumer Member ||5/31/22|
|Marcie Lerner, O.D.|| Member ||5/31/24|
Patricia G. Bennett, MSW, Executive Director
Kecia Dunham, Licensing Coordinator
Deborah Donohue, Deputy Counsel for the Boards, Board Counsel
Larry Schuyler, Investigator
Lillian Reese, Legislation & Regulations Coordinator
The Board held one live meeting and five virtual Board meetings.
The Board received (7) complaints and disposed of them as follows: (3) complaints were closed administratively and (3) were closed with no public action taken.
On-Line License Renewal
The online renewal system launched on April 30th and normally ends on June 30th with a 30-day grace period. However, due to the pandemic the Governor extended the expiration dates for all licenses until the end of the emergency lifts. There were 500 licenses that were renewed through 12/31/20. The Board waived the continuing education audit. Licenses are active for a two-year period. The licensure base is divided in half to stagger the renewals and equalize the Board’s annual revenue. There is an even and an odd-numbered renewal cycle. Licensees with last names beginning with the letters A through L, renewed in 2020.
Initial License - $300
Biennial License Renewal - $600 (plus a fee assessed on all Health Occupation practitioners and payable to the Maryland Health Care Commission).
The provisions of the 2019 law relevant to expanded scope for therapeutically certified optometrists, became effective, on March 1, 2020. New authorities include:
- Independent Management of Open Angle Glaucoma Patients
- Corneal & Conjunctival Foreign Body Removal (with any tool other than a scalpel)
- Central Axis - foreign body may not perforate Bowman's
- Other - foreign body may not perforate Mid Stroma
- Ordering/Performing Tests
- Bloodwork with physician consultation and results reported back to consulting M.D.
- Cultures and swabs (no genetic tests)
- Image testing (OTHER THAN RADIOGRAPHIC)
- Rx of ALL Topical Agents (except topic anti-metabolites)
- Rx of ALL Oral Pharmaceutical Agents with the following exceptions:
- Controlled Dangerous Substances
- Immuno-modulatory Agents
- Immuno-suppressives (carve out for up to 1 month dose of oral steroids w/physician consultation)
- Glaucoma Medications to children under 18 years of age
- ANY oral Medications
to children under 16 years of age
Optometrists were required to document successful completion of a Board approved 10 hour course to be taken no later tharn June 30, 2020 to maintain therapeutic certification and practice at full scope. Again due to the pandemic and the extension of license expiration dates, this requirement was also extended. Failure to meet this requirement will result in an automatic downgrade to diagnostic certification. Exempt from this requirement are graduates from schools of optometry or university colleges of optometry beginning July 1, 2019.
Governor Larry Hogan signed into law on April 3, 2020, HB 448 Health Care Practitioners – Telehealth and Shortage, which was legislated in response to the emergency needs in the state as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This law, however, will remain in force after the state of emergency has been lifted by the Governor. Health Boards are required to adopt regulations to implement the provisions of the law. The Board submitted its draft in the summer of 2020 and awaits approval by the Health Secretary. The regulations cannot establish a separate standard of care for telehealth. Additionally, they shall allow for the establishment of a practitioner-patient relationship through a synchronous telehealth interaction or an asynchronous telehealth interaction provided by a health care practitioner who is complying with the health care practitioner’s standard of care.
With the enactment of the 2019 Scope Expansion bill, the Board’s Quality Assurance Committee and its record review component were no longer required, effective March 1, 2020, after 25 years. However, the Board was required to recommend quality assurance guidelines for therapeutically certified optometrists. The Board prepared draft regulations which have been submitted to the Health Secretary for approval.
There are no new CE requirements but licensees are now allowed up to 4 hours each renewal cycle in courses on Cultural Competency in the general CE category
COVID-19 Board Actions
Due to the pandemic, the Board voted to allow all required CE for the 2020 and 2021 renewal cycles to be online - dry and diagnostic licenses up to 36 hours and therapeutic licenses up to 50 hours. The Board has legal authority to waive CE requirements. There have been inquiries about the Board waiving its fees. However, there are no statutory or regulatory provisions for fee waivers.
There were 976 active optometrists as of 12/31/20. The Board approved and issued (67) initial licenses.
The Board’s website is
www.health.maryland.gov/optometry. The site is available for both licensees and the public.
Patricia G. Bennett, MSW