This new wave of online health services, or those received through telephone or videoconferencing, is described as telemedicine.
“The way I see telemedicine is, it’s a more unique method of delivering health care to individuals, whereby it’s a lot more accessible,” Lee said. “Unlike the typical brick and mortar type locations where you need to make an appointment and go in, telemedicine allows individuals to seek care at their convenience.”
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Spetalnick said, “there is such a thing as telemedicine, and it’s a positive,” but he added that he has some concerns about where online vision testing fits in.
“Eye care patients tend to think that an eye exam is just a measurement for glasses, and that is a real important test, because people want to see well out of their glasses. But it’s a fairly small part of an overall comprehensive eye examination and has no impact, or very little impact, on assessing the health of the eye,” Spetalnick said.
“There is a standard of care when an eye doctor is expected to perform an eye exam and the eye exam is expected to determine if the patient does or doesn’t have things like glaucoma, retina problems, even diabetes can be detected,” he said.
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Opternative states on its website that it’s “not a replacement for a comprehensive eye health examination.” Rather, it’s “an FDA registered device that can only be used to prescribe glasses and contact lens prescriptions by licensed physicians.”
So, the service could be used in addition to visiting a doctor’s office for comprehensive eye health examinations.
Yet “even if you’re talking about nothing but assessing the proper eyeglass prescription for an individual, a single test isn’t the way a doctor ought to be determining what to prescribe for that patient. You need to collect multiple data points,” Spetalnick said.
“Frequently, you also have to dilate the patient and do that test all over again to see if that patient’s actually focusing in and out appropriately,” he said.
Based on the way online vision tests are designed, however, there is no need for dilation, Lee said in response. “The way it’s different is, it quantifies how you see,” he said. “So, it basically is able to measure your visual perception, how you see out of your eyes, without any correction.”