Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health

South Dakota Board of Examiners in Optometry

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an optometrist, ophthalmologist, and optician?

An optometrist (also called doctor of optometry) is a health care practitioner trained to diagnose signs of ocular, neurological, and systemic health problems and to treat vision disorders.  A properly certified optometrist may treat eye diseases and injuries, prescribe topical drugs and perform other procedures such as foreign body removal.  All optometrists may prescribe glasses and contact lenses.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor trained in eye surgery and eye disease.  Ophthalmologists may prescribe glasses, contact lenses, and perform eye surgery such as cataract surgery. The South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners licenses and regulates ophthalmologists.

An optician is an eyewear provider trained to select, manufacture, and dispense spectacles.  They may sell or deliver contact lenses upon a written prescription by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.  Opticians are not licensed or regulated in South Dakota.

Does South Dakota offer endorsement licensure for optometrists?

Yes, where the candidate:

    1. is licensed in good standing in a state or territory under U.S. jurisdiction that required passage of a written, entry level examination at the time of initial licensure;
    2. is licensed at the highest level of prescriptive authority possible in that jurisdiction;
    3. has actively engaged in the practice of optometry for the five immediately preceding years;
    4. submits directly to the Board all transcripts, reports, or other information the board requires;
    5. passes the written examination regarding the optometry laws and administrative rules governing optometrists in the state;

The candidate must request the optometry licensing agency in which the applicant is licensed or has ever been licensed to practice optometry to provide reports directly to the South Dakota Board of Examiners in Optometry describing current standing and any past or pending actions taken with respect to the applicant's authority to practice optometry. consecutive years.

Does South Dakota have a continuing education requirement for licensed optometrists?

Yes.  All licensees must complete 45 hours of continuing education classes every three years beginning the date the license is issued.  Optometrists certified to use topical pharmaceutical agents (DPA or TPA) must complete five (5) hours annually of continuing education related to ocular disease.  The five (5) hours of annual ocular disease education count toward the 45 hours per three years.