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Archives - State Agencies - Board of Optometry

[Authorized: NDCC 43-13]

The regulation of the practice of optometry began in 1903 when the North Dakota State Board of Examiners of Optometry was created by the Legislative Assembly. The Governor appointed five resident opticians who were in actual practice and were members of the North Dakota Optical Association.  Board members held a three year term and the Governor appointed one member as president and one as secretary. The Board met once a year or whenever the president and secretary called a meeting.  Before beginning the practice of optometry and in order to become a registered optometrist the applicant had to pass an examination.  An examination fee as well as an annual license fee was collected and the name was entered into the Board’s registry by the secretary. The practicing optometrist was required to display the certificate of examination. Cases of misconduct were brought before the Board (S. L. 1903, Ch. 130).   

Legislation in 1905 required registering applicants taking the examination to make application to the Board in writing and to include letters from two “freeholders” who were residents of the state and who would be witnesses for the applicant. The witnesses stated that the applicant was a resident of the state and of good moral character. To qualify for registration the applicant had to be either a graduate from a school of optometry approved by the Board or to have worked with a registered optometrist for two full years as a student optometrist. The applicant had to be at least twenty-one years of age. Until 1905 a certified copy of the optometrist’s registration and certification had to be filed with the Office of the Register of Deeds in the county of practice. The 1905 law required the secretary of the Board to keep an official registry of all licenses. It was to include the names of all optometrists in North Dakota and list the licensees, renewals, and revocations (S. L. 1905, Ch. 142).

The North Dakota State Board of Examiners of Optometry was renamed the North Dakota State Board of Optometry in 1923. Five Board members appointed by the Governor served staggered five year terms.  Board members had to be North Dakota residents who were engaged in practice of optometry in North Dakota with a membership in of the North Dakota Optometric Association. The duties of the Board of Optometry included administering the test to an applicant who wanted to become a registered optometrist, enforcing the provisions and regulations of laws, making rules and regulations, and handling cases in violation of the law. When necessary the courts were asked for an injunction (S. L. 1923, Ch. 261).    

In 1947 legislation added new duties to the Board including enacting a law making it unlawful for any association, corporation, group, organization, or individual who did not a hold a certificate to practice in the field of optometry (S. L. 1947, Ch. 300). Legislation in 1955 defined the qualifications of a licensed optometrist to include those who were twenty-one years of age and were a graduate of a high school and of an optometric school, or had completed two years or 2000 hours of courses of study in optometry. Legislation in 1955 required the applicant to be a graduate from a Class A optometric school or college.  After a fourteen month period the exam could be retaken if necessary (S. L. 1955, Ch. 284). 

In 1967 licensing included graduating from a Class A optometric school or college that taught courses in optometry (S. L. 1967, Ch. 349). Legislation spelled out the choices for patients who were selecting the services of an optometrist (S. L. 1967, Ch. 350). An annual license renewal was added in 1971 and the Board determined the number of classroom hours of continuing education necessary for a registered licensed optometrist (S. L. 1971 Ch. 435). The age of an applicant was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen in1973 and the candidate needed four years of high school or the equivalent and had to be a graduate from a Class A optometric school.  Fees were paid to the Board. Completing a letter of intention and sending it at least five days before the exam was taken along with an affidavit from two “freeholders” stating that candidate was of good moral character were other requirements (S. L. 1973, Ch. 120). In 1979 legislation extended the requirements to include a pharmacological component. To become certified in the use of pharmaceutical agents the optometrist had to complete both didactic and clinical instruction coursework in pharmacology from an accredited institution, and the optometrist had to be certified in cardiopulmonary procedure and first aid (S. L. 1979, Ch. 465).
In 1981additional duties were required of the secretary of the Board. This included keeping a full record of the proceedings of the Board and acting as custodian of all fees, receipts, and disbursements. The secretary maintained a registry of all who took the examination, listed the names of those who were given a license after passing the exam, or handled the process for revocation of a license. Board membership expanded to seven appointed by the Governor (S. L. 1981, Ch. 441). In 1985 the changes in legislation related to qualifications for licensing from schools accredited by the Council of Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association (S. L. 1985, Ch. 437) and increased the number of hours of continuing education for license renewals (S. L. 1985, Ch. 478). 

Legislation in 1987 created two new sections of the Century Code containing patient use of pharmaceutical products provided by an optometrist. The act authorized the Board to certify a registered licensed optometrist who prescribed diagnostic pharmaceutical ocular agents in the management of ocular disease. The law required the Board to send an annual written notification to the State Board of Pharmacy listing certified optometrists who used pharmaceutical ocular products as a part of their patient service (S. L. 1987, Ch. 517). In 1989 a certificate of registration was replaced by licensing. The Board secretary continued to keep a registry with the names of all licensed optometrists.  A member of the Board no longer had to be a member of the North Dakota Optometric Association.  Members of the Board elected the president and a secretary. Disciplinary powers of the Board were spelled out [NDCC 43-13-16] and additional changes were added to a patient’s right of choice when selecting an optometrist (S. L. 1989, Ch. 520). 
Language changed the term “freeholder” to “resident” and legislation allowed the Board to establish a set time and place for holding examinations (S. L.1993, Ch. 421). In 1999 the applicant was required to submit a request to take the test fifteen days before the examination date instead of five days. The requirement of a resident to attest to good moral character of an applicant was repealed (S. L. 1999, Ch.377). Additional duties were given to the Board secretary. The State Board of Pharmacy was required to receive a list of the certified optometrists using pharmaceutical agents (S. L. 2007, Ch. 362). New legislation allowed optometrists to sell pharmaceutical agents and contact lenses and ophthalmic devices as approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (S. L. 2009, Ch. 364).

1903       Creation of the North Dakota State Board of Examiners of Optometry. All five Board members were optometrists practicing in North Dakota and were members of the North Dakota Optometric Association. The Governor appointed them to serve three year terms (S. L. 1903, Ch. 130).

1905       The Governor appointed a president and secretary from within the Board. A written examination was given to potential optometrists (S. L. 1905, Ch. 142).

1923       The State Board of Examiners of Optometry became the North Dakota State Board of Optometry. The law defined and regulated the practice and provided penalties for violations.  Duties of the Board included conducting the examination taken by applicants, registering and issuing renewals to qualified optometrists, and investigating misconduct and when necessary revoking licenses (S. L. 1923, Ch. 261).

1947       The Legislature gave additional duties to the Board. Any corporation, organization, association, group, or individual wanting to provide optometric services had to have on staff a certified optometrist (S. L. 1947, Ch. 300).
1955       Changes took place regarding certification qualifications and regulation procedures (S. L. 1955, Ch. 284).

1957       Legislation was amended regarding qualified institutions for training optometrists (S. L. 1957, Ch. 299).
1967       Requirements stated that an optometrist had to graduate from a Class A optometric school or college offering courses in optometry (S. L. 1967, Ch. 349). Patients were given additional choices in finding a certified optometrist (S. L. 1967, Ch. 350). 

1971       Continuing education credits were required prior to the renewal of licenses (S. L. 1971, Ch. 435).  Laws changed relating to compensation and expenses of Board members (S. L. 1971, Ch. 510).

1973       Qualifications and training requirements expanded (S. L. 1973, Ch. 120).

1979       The Board adopted rules and approved programs relating to the certification of optometrists who provided ocular diagnostic pharmaceutical agents as a service to patients (S. L. 1979, Ch. 465).  Legislation created an act to prohibit discrimination in the selection of services for patients (S. L. 1979, Ch. 466).

1981       State Board of Optometry increased to seven members who were appointed by the Governor.  Five of the seven had to be established residents practicing optometry in the state and members of the North Dakota Optometric Association (S. L. 1981, Ch. 441).

1983       Changes made to the requirements of ocular practitioner contracts and patient payments for medical services. Legislation addressed choices of patients concerning optometric service providers (S.L. 1983, Ch. 319).

1985       Qualifications were changed on the application form for students studying optometry and legislation required accreditation for schools associated with the Council of Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association (S. L. 1985, Ch. 478).

1987       An act was authorized requiring the Board of Optometry to certify optometrists who provided pharmaceutical agents in the management of ocular disease. Definitions were clarified in the areas of optical treatments and terms. The Board of Optometry was required to notify the Board of Pharmacy about optometrists certified in the use pharmaceutical agents (S. L. 1987, Ch. 517).

1989       Legislation eliminated mandatory membership in the North Dakota Optometric Association as a prerequisite for serving on the Board of Optometry. Requirements for interns were listed.  Registration and certification were replaced with a license. A new section of the Century Code authorized the Board to take appropriate measures regarding disciplinary action and misconduct of practicing optometrists (S. L. 1989, Ch. 520).

1993       The term “freeholder” was changed to “resident” in reference to the good moral character of an applicant (S. L. 1993, Ch. 421).

1997       Certification requirements were outlined for the optometrist treating patients for glaucoma (S. L. 1997, Ch. 370).

1999       Additional requirements changed the optometrist application process (S. L. 1999, Ch. 377).

2001       Legislation expanded for an optometrist treating primary open-end glaucoma (S. L. 2001, Ch. 374).

2007       Additional duties were given to the Board secretary. The State Board of Pharmacy was required to receive a list of the certified optometrists who provided pharmaceutical agents to their patients (S. L. 2007, Ch. 362).

2009       The Federal Food and Drug Administration requirements were added to legislation specifying how an optometrist could dispense pharmaceutical agents or other ophthalmic devices as a part of patient services (S. L. 2009, Ch. 364).

2011       The Board adopted rules establishing standards for nursing practices consistent with the practice of optometry (S. L. 2011, Ch. 309).

See ODIN for serial holdings.

North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
North Dakota State Board of Optometry Website.           

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