Arkansans Benefitting from Expanded Access to Quality Eye Care


“This is the patient Act 579 was meant to help,” said Matt Jones, O.D., in describing Don Harris, a longtime patient who recently underwent a laser trabeculoplasty procedure (SLT) in Dr. Jones’ Mississippi County office.  It’s a level of care Mr. Harris wouldn’t have been able to receive in his optometrist’s office just two years ago, before passage of the new law in 2019.  That means Mr. Harris, a glaucoma patient and diabetic in his 70s, who recently suffered a debilitating stroke, likely would have gone without the needed procedure.

 “He’s walked to every single appointment in my office the last 10 years,” said Dr. Jones.  When Dr. Jones noticed it had been a while since Mr. Harris was there for a visit, he reached out to him, and learned about the stroke.  The stroke left Mr. Harris unable to walk to Dr. Jones’ office, so he had not been able to get there for a checkup. He also wasn’t able to get to the pharmacy, so he had quit taking his essential eye drops, which resulted in dangerously high pressure on his eyes.  “For a lot of patients, it’s not just about being able to get to a bigger town like Memphis or Jonesboro to have one of these procedures. It’s about even being able to get to the Walgreen’s Pharmacy, or to my office, just a mile away,” said Dr. Jones.

Dr. Jones offered to go pick up Mr. Harris, giving him a ride to the office for an SLT.  He explained to Mr. Harris the procedure would help relieve the pressure on his eyes – especially since he didn’t have reliable access to his medicine, which was also a financial burden.  The procedure, which took just a few minutes, was a success. Not only that, it was covered by insurance, and didn’t cost Mr. Harris anything out-of-pocket, unlike the eye drops he  wasn’t always able to get filled.

 Thanks to Act 579, there are patients throughout Arkansas, who  are now able to receive the care they need from their doctor of optometry, instead of having to incur the cost and burden of finding care elsewhere, or as would have been the case for Mr. Harris, going without any care at all.

“I’m grateful to members of the Arkansas General Assembly, who took the time to learn about this important issue, and overwhelmingly voted to improve access to care for our patients,” said Dr. Jones. “It’s truly making a difference in the lives of Arkansans.”

Dr. Matt Jones of Blytheville, AR performs SLT on patient