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Continuing Education

18VAC105-20-70. Requirements for continuing education.

A. Each license renewal of an active license shall be conditioned upon submission of evidence to the board of 20 hours of continuing education taken by the applicant during the previous license period. A licensee who completes more than 20 hours of continuing education in a year shall be allowed to carry forward up to 10 hours of continuing education for the next annual renewal cycle.

1. The 20 hours may include up to two hours of recordkeeping for patient care, including coding for diagnostic and treatment devices and procedures or the management of an optometry practice, provided that such courses are not primarily for the purpose of augmenting the licensee's income or promoting the sale of specific instruments or products.

2. For optometrists who are certified in the use of therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, at least 10 of the required continuing education hours shall be in the areas of ocular and general pharmacology; diagnosis and treatment of the human eye and its adnexa, including treatment with new pharmaceutical agents; new or advanced clinical devices, techniques, modalities, or procedures; or pain management.

3. At least 10 hours shall be obtained through real-time, interactive activities, including in-person or electronic presentations, provided that during the course of the presentation, the licensee and the lecturer may communicate with one another.

4. A licensee may also include up to two hours of training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

5. Two hours of the 20 hours required for annual renewal may be satisfied through delivery of professional services, without compensation, to low-income individuals receiving health services through a local health department or a free clinic organized in whole or primarily for the delivery of those services. One hour of continuing education may be credited for three hours of providing such volunteer services, as documented by the health department or free clinic.

B. Each licensee shall attest to fulfillment of continuing education hours on the required annual renewal form. All continuing education shall be completed prior to the renewal deadline unless an extension has been granted by the Continuing Education Committee. A request for an extension shall be received prior to the renewal deadline of each year.

C. All continuing education courses shall be offered by an approved sponsor or accrediting body listed in subsection H of this section. Courses that are not approved by a board-recognized sponsor in advance shall not be accepted for continuing education credit. For those courses that have a post-test requirement, credit will only be given if the optometrist receives a passing grade as indicated on the certificate.

D. Licensees shall maintain continuing education documentation for a period of not less than three years. A random audit of licensees may be conducted by the board which will require that the licensee provide evidence substantiating participation in required continuing education courses within 30 days of the audit notification.

E. Documentation of hours shall clearly indicate the name of the continuing education provider and its affiliation with an approved sponsor or accrediting body as listed in subsection H of this section. Documents that do not have the required information shall not be accepted by the board for determining compliance. Correspondence courses shall be credited according to the date indicated on the continuing education certificate.

F. A licensee shall be exempt from the continuing competency requirements for the first renewal following the date of initial licensure by examination in Virginia.

G. The board may grant an exemption for all or part of the requirements for circumstances beyond the control of the licensee, such as temporary disability, mandatory military service, or officially declared disasters.

H. An approved continuing education course or program, whether offered by correspondence, electronically, or in person, shall be sponsored, accredited, or approved by one of the following:

1. The American Optometric Association and its constituent organizations.

2. Regional optometric organizations.

3. State optometric associations and their affiliate local societies.

4. Accredited colleges and universities providing optometric or medical courses.

5. The American Academy of Optometry and its affiliate organizations.

6. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and its affiliate organizations.

7. The Virginia Academy of Optometry.

8. Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE).

9. State or federal governmental agencies.

10. College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

11. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education of the American Medical Association for Category 1 credit.

12. Providers of training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

13. Optometric Extension Program.

I. In order to receive credit for continuing education courses, a licensee shall submit a certificate that shows:

1. The date, location, presenter or lecturer, content hours of the course, and contact information of the provider or sponsor for verification. The certificate of attendance shall be based on verification by the sponsor of the attendee's presence throughout the course, either provided by a post-test or by a designated monitor.

2. Whether the course was in real-time and interactive, including in-person or electronic presentations.

J. Falsifying the attestation of compliance with continuing education on a renewal form or failure to comply with continuing education requirements may subject a licensee to disciplinary action by the board, consistent with § 54.1-3215 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR510-01-1 § 7, eff. October 30, 1985; amended, Volume 04, Issue 03, eff. December 9, 1987; Volume 04, Issue 19, eff. July 20, 1988; Volume 05, Issue 10, eff. March 13, 1989; Volume 08, Issue 04, eff. January 1, 1992; Volume 11, Issue 20, eff. July 26, 1995; Volume 15, Issue 06, eff. January 6, 1999; Volume 19, Issue 07, eff. January 15, 2003; Volume 22, Issue 04, eff. November 30, 2005; Volume 26, Issue 12, eff. March 17, 2010; Volume 32, Issue 26, eff. September 21, 2016; Volume 33, Issue 11, eff. March 9, 2017; Volume 34, Issue 16, eff. May 2, 2018; Volume 36, Issue 04, eff. November 13, 2019; Volume 36, Issue 06, eff. December 11, 2019; Volume 36, Issue 12, eff. March 4, 2020.


Virginia Board of Optometry | Contact the Board
Kelli Moss, Acting Executive Director
Gerald R. Neidigh, Jr., O.D., President