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Press Release: Vision Health Professionals Warn Patients About Walmart-Backed State Question

Eye Doctors Oppose Corporate Control of Vision Health

OKLAHOMA CITY – Eye doctors and vision health professionals across the state are working to educate their patients about the dangers of a proposed ballot measure that would erode the quality of vision-care in Oklahoma. The measure, State Question 793, is backed by Walmart and would amend the Oklahoma Constitution so that Walmart could offer optometry services. A Walmart-backed political group has been collecting signatures from Walmart-shoppers for the last several weeks. The group announced today it has enough signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.

Joel Robison, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP), said Walmart’s paid signature gatherers and political operatives are not being honest about the issue.

“Walmart’s political operatives are out there telling shoppers this will get them cheap glasses,” said Robison. “It’s not about cheap glasses, it’s about giving an out-of-state corporation control of a medical profession. It’s about handing control of our state Constitution over to Walmart. Voters are going to realize this is about Walmart’s bottom-line and their profits, not about what is good for patients.”

Oklahoma would be the first state to amend its Constitution to place optometrists inside of Walmart stores.

Dr. David Cockrell is a Stillwater-based optometrist who has practiced in Oklahoma for thirty-six years. In June, he will be inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame for his advocacy on behalf of patients. Cockrell said that Oklahoma’s current laws have served to protect patients, and that Walmart is undermining those protections.

“Oklahoma’s laws were crafted very deliberately and carefully to provide the best possible patient care in all situations,” said Cockrell. “They are also specifically designed to stop corporate interference into patient care. I see ‘patients;’ Walmart has ‘customers.’ It is a different relationship and our laws should reflect that. Walmart is trying to blur the lines between the two and elevate corporate interests above medical care. I tell my patients everyday: vote no on State Question 793 if you care about your vision health or the quality of Optometry in Oklahoma.”

Below: optometric physicians and paraoptometrics wear "No on 793" t-shirts at their optometry clinic.

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