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Virginia Board of Optometry
Frequently Asked Questions

Application Request/Process

Q: How is information obtained for a license to practice optometry in Virginia?

A: The application and instructions may be downloaded from the website under “Applications and Forms” or requested by emailing the board office at optbd@dhp.virginia.gov.

Q: Does Virginia require licensure applicants to take a jurisprudence examination?

A: The Virginia Board of Optometry does not have an examination on the regulations governing the practice of optometry. However, each applicant is required to sign the application form attesting to the following statement: I have read and understand the Virginia Board of Optometry statutes and regulations and am aware that if granted a license to practice optometry in Virginia, I am required to comply with any laws and regulations governing the practice of optometry and the use of controlled substances in Virginia.

Q: How long does it take to process an application?

A: Once an application is deemed complete, the license is usually issued the same day. An application is deemed complete when all required documents have been received.

Q: Does Virginia allow reciprocity with any state?

A: The laws and regulations governing the practice of optometry in Virginia do not allow for reciprocity. However, an applicant may be licensed by endorsement provided 18VAC105-20-15 of the Regulations of the Virginia Board of Optometry is met.

Address, phone and e-mail changes

Q: How does a licensee of the Board of Optometry change a name or a postal/email address?

A: A name change must be made in writing accompanied by a copy of the legal documentation supporting the name change. A postal or email address change can be updated through a licensee’s online account or sent in writing by mail, fax or email to the board office.

Closing Practice

Q: What notification to patients is required when a practice is terminating service?

A: The Regulations of the Virginia Board of Optometry states the following:

18VAC105-20-40. Standards of conduct.

The board has the authority to deny, suspend, revoke, or otherwise discipline a licensee for a violation of the following standards of conduct. A licensed optometrist shall:

5. Notify patients in the event the practice is to be terminated or relocated, giving a reasonable time period within which the patient or an authorized representative can request in writing that the records or copies be sent to any other like-regulated provider of the patient's choice or destroyed in compliance with requirements of 54.1-2405 of the Code of Virginia on the transfer of patient records in conjunction with closure, sale, or relocation of practice.

In addition, 54.1-2405 of the Code of Virginia states:

A. No person licensed, registered, or certified by one of the health regulatory boards under the Department shall transfer records pertaining to a current patient in conjunction with the closure, sale or relocation of a professional practice until such person has first attempted to notify the patient of the pending transfer, by mail, at the patient's last known address, and by publishing prior notice in a newspaper of general circulation within the provider's practice area, as specified in 8.01-324.

The notice shall specify that, at the written request of the patient or an authorized representative, the records or copies will be sent, within a reasonable time, to any other like-regulated provider of the patient's choice or provided to the patient pursuant to 32.1-127.1:03. The notice shall also disclose whether any charges will be billed by the provider for supplying the patient or the provider chosen by the patient with the originals or copies of the patient's records. Such charges shall not exceed the actual costs of copying and mailing or delivering the records.

B. For the purposes of this section:
"Current patient" means a patient who has had a patient encounter with the provider or his professional practice during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of the record transfer.

"Relocation of a professional practice" means the moving of a practice located in Virginia from the location at which the records are stored at the time of the notice to another practice site that is located more than 30 miles away or to another practice site that is located in another state or the District of Columbia.

 

Drug Law

See link: Drug Law for Practitioners

Fees

Q: What is the licensure renewal fee for a TPA-certified optometrist?

A: The fee is $200. Payment may be made online with a credit card or a check sent to the board office made payable to “Treasurer of Virginia.” Fees are non-refundable.

Q: What is the licensure renewal fee for non-TPA certified optometrist?

A: The fee is $150. Payment may be made online with a credit card or a check sent to the board office made payable to “Treasurer of Virginia.” Fees are non-refundable.

Q: May a fee be paid by phone?

A: Due to security issues, no fees may be paid over the phone.

License Verification

Q: How does a Virginia licensee request licensure verification to be sent to another state?

A: Verification of a license to another jurisdiction requires a written request to the board office accompanied by a payment of $10.00 per verification. Check should be made payable to the “Treasurer of Virginia.” A licensee must provide full name or license number and the mailing address of jurisdiction to receive verification.

Q: How may a licensee’s licensure status be verified?

A: Licensure verification may be obtained through License Lookup.

Medical Records

Q: Who owns the medical record - the practitioner or the patient?

A: The Code of Virginia states the following:

§ 32.1-127.1:03. Health records privacy.

A. There is hereby recognized an individual's right of privacy in the content of his health records. Health records are the property of the health care entity maintaining them, and, except when permitted or required by this section or by other provisions of state law, no health care entity, or other person working in a health care setting, may disclose an individual's health records.

B. As used in this section:

"Health record" means any written, printed or electronically recorded material maintained by a health care entity in the course of providing health services to an individual concerning the individual and the services provided. "Health record" also includes the substance of any communication made by an individual to a health care entity in confidence during or in connection with the provision of health services or information otherwise acquired by the health care entity about an individual in confidence and in connection with the provision of health services to the individual.

Q: How does a patient obtain a copy of his/her medical record?

A: The Code of Virginia, § 32.1-127.1:03(E), states the following:

Requests for copies of or electronic access to health records shall (a) be in writing, dated and signed by the requester; (b) identify the nature of the information requested; and (c) include evidence of the authority of the requester to receive such copies or access such records, and identification of the person to whom the information is to be disclosed; and (d) specify whether the requester would like the records in electronic format, if available, or in paper format. The health care entity shall accept a photocopy, facsimile, or other copy of the original signed by the requestor as if it were an original. Within 15 days of receipt of a request for copies of or electronic access to health records, the health care entity shall do one of the following: (A) furnish such copies of or allow electronic access to the requested health records to any requester authorized to receive them in electronic format if so requested; (B) inform the requester if the information does not exist or cannot be found; (C) if the health care entity does not maintain a record of the information, so inform the requester and provide the name and address, if known, of the health care entity who maintains the record; or (D) deny the request (1) under subsection F, (2) on the grounds that the requester has not established his authority to receive such health records or proof of his identity, or (3) as other provided by law. Procedures set forth in this section shall apply only to requests for health records not specifically governed by other provisions of state law.

Q: Can a practitioner charge for a copy of a medical record?

A: The Code of Virginia, § 32.1-127.1:03(J), states the following

If an individual requests a copy of his health record from a health care entity, the health care entity may impose a reasonable cost-based fee, which shall include only the cost of supplies for and labor of copying the requested information, postage when the individual requests that such information be mailed, and preparation of an explanation or summary of such information as agreed to by the individual. For the purposes of this section, "individual" shall subsume a person with authority to act on behalf of the individual who is the subject of the health record in making decisions related to his health care.

Prescribing for Self & Family


Q: May a licensed optometrist prescribe for self and family?

A: The Regulations of the Virginia Board of Optometry state the following:

18VAC105-20-40. Standards of conduct.

The board has the authority to deny, suspend, revoke, or otherwise discipline a licensee for a violation of the following standards of conduct. A licensed optometrist shall:

9. Treat or prescribe based on a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship consistent with criteria set forth in § 54.1-3303 of the Code of Virginia. A licensee shall not prescribe a controlled substance to himself or a family member other than Schedule VI as defined in § 54.1-3455 of the Code of Virginia. When treating or prescribing for self or family, the practitioner shall maintain a patient record documenting compliance with statutory criteria for a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship.

Renewal Process

Q: When does the Board send out license renewal notifications?

A: The notifications are typically sent 45 to 60 days in advance of license expiration. Notifications are sent via email or postal carrier for those licensees that do not have an email address registered with the Board. A licensee may use their online account to renew with a credit card or submit a paper renewal with a check made payable to the “Treasurer of Virginia.” A paper renewal notice may be requested here. Practicing optometry in Virginia with a lapsed license may subject the licensee to disciplinary action and additional fines by the board.

Q: How is an expired license renewed?

A: A license may be renewed with late fees for up to one year past the expiration date. After December 31st, a license that is not renewed is considered lapsed and may subject the licensee to disciplinary action and possible fines. If a license has been lapsed for more than one year, a reinstatement application is required. The reinstatement application may be downloaded from the Board’s website by selecting “Applications and Forms.”

Retention of patient records

Q: How long does an optometrist have to retain medical records?

A: The Regulations of the Virginia Board of Optometry states the following:

18VAC105-20-45. Standards of practice.

E. Practitioners shall maintain a patient record for a minimum of five years following the last patient encounter with the following exceptions:

1. Records that have previously been transferred to another practitioner or health care provider or provided to the patient or his personal representative; or

2. Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time.

Q: Is an optometrist required by law to provide pupillary distance for an eyeglass prescription?

A: There is no Virginia law or regulation that requires an optometrist to provide the pupillary distance for an eyeglass prescription.