The recent news in our profession was an announced partnership between Opternative and 1-800-Contacts.1 With InstaRx powered by Opternative, customers can “stay home, eat some ice cream, and get a vision exam” according to the 1-800 Contacts website.
The recent announcement that 1-800 Contacts has partnered with online eye exam provider Opternative to offer consumers eye exams online has rocked the optometry community. What can we learn from this announcement, and what should we do?
Much has been written about Opternative, and I will not rehash what the product is and what it purports to do. I will say the product presents a clear and present danger to the eye health of the unsuspecting public. We can argue the merits of disruptive technology, but the bottom line is the product as currently marketed as an “eye exam” is a public health threat.
It's raining “eyecare” apps. Just for a second, I’m going to embrace the hate because we can use it to help lead us to a better understanding of the situation and ultimately to a solution. In our technologically enhanced world there seems to be an app for everything—including for eye care.
Eye care has been a magnet for new—and disruptive—technology. In the past few years, the industry has seen the birth of companies such as Smart Vision Labs, Opternative, and EyeNetra, just to name a few.
Executives from online refraction companies discussed their services during Vision Expo East. Opternative CEO Aaron Dallek; EyeNetra CTO Vitor Pamplona, PhD; and myVisionPOD Founder Hal Wilson shared information about their companies and answered questions from the audience about the future of online refraction.
There is no question that our profession is undergoing rapid change as well as significant challenges. As a profession, we are faced with the dual responsibility of protecting our patient and maintaining our proficiency. Both of these also fall under the legal jurisdiction of the State Board of Optometry in the states in which we are licensed. Some state boards have already acted, but most have not. One that has not is California.