This winter, a website that promises online refractive eye exams will debut. But Michigan residents won’t be able to get eyeglass prescriptions from it, thanks to the Eye Care Consumer Protection Law (Senate Bill 853), which went into effect September 30. This law prohibits automated kiosks and websites from dispensing glasses or contact lens prescriptions.
Sen. Rick Jones introduced the bill because an in-office eye exam revealed an asymptomatic but vision-threatening eye disease in his wife. “The kiosk machine or robo- doctor cannot detect glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes or, in the case of my wife, a bleeding retina,” he wrote. “My wife had no pain or blurred vision. The optom- etrist saved her vision by detecting the bleeding retina in time to have an ophthalmologist save her vision.”
Sen. Jones added, “We did not ban the machine. They simply can- not give out a prescription ... [But] if people only use machines for their eye exams, then we will have more blind people on welfare. Taxpayers will pay the bill.”
Paul Anton Hodge, OD, presi- dent of the Michigan Optometric Association, says that the law “is viewed as a public health issue by optometry and ophthalmology in Michigan, and the legislative and executive branches agreed that the public will be better served with this
Online refraction website promises: “Eye exams from the comfort of home.”
legislation in effect.”
Specifically, the law ties refrac-
tion to an ocular health exam such that a valid eyeglass or contact lens prescription can only come from a comprehensive eye examination.
Dr. Hodge adds, “If other states desire to pass similar legislation, they are encouraged to read our bill, which seeks to protect public health when it comes to eye and vision care.”
Opternative, the website that promises FDA-compliant $30 refractive eye exams “from the comfort of home,” says that each prescription is “reviewed and signed by an eye care professional in your state.” The online refractive site also advises customers to “visit
an eye care professional’s office
for an eye health exam once every two years, as recommended by the American Optometric Association. After taking Opternative’s refractive eye exam, we’ll help you locate an optometrist or ophthalmologist in your area.”