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May 1, 2017 Letter to the Editor

Online eye exams not a form of telemedicine

In your April 10th article, “Telemedicine eye-test businesses face CT opposition,” you characterize online eye exam vendors as tested and proven practitioners of telemedicine. That could not be further from the truth.

I strongly support Connecticut's current telemedicine statutes that mandate care rendered remotely must meet the same standard of care delivered personally. The online application for eye exams do not meet our standards.

That's why it is so important to pass House Bill 6012, “An Act Concerning Eye Care,” to protect consumers who wear contact lenses. This bipartisan legislation requires patients to get an annual, in-person eye exam in order to receive a prescription for contact lenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), complications associated with contact lens wearers is a major health risk. Approximately 980,000 cases of corneal complications associated with contact lens wearers were reported in 2010.

Currently, the only way to assess the fit of a contact and the health of a contact lens wearers' cornea is through an in-person evaluation.

Furthermore, the CDC recommends annual evaluations by your eye doctor to reduce the risk of these complications. For many contact lens wearers, a visit to an optometrist is their only interaction with a licensed physician. We can find illnesses and complications that could go undetected if those patients were not required to have an in-person visit.

As an optometrist, my primary concern is my patients' eye health. These online eye exam vendors are out-of-state corporations whose primary concern is their profit margins, not how healthy their patients are. These out-of-state corporations are misrepresenting their capabilities and hurting Connecticut's consumers.

These concerns were shared by the Public Health Committee who voted favorably on this legislation by a bipartisan vote of 23-3.

Who knows what the future will bring. Possibly the technology to examine patients online will become a reality. Then we could all examine our patients remotely.

House Bill 6012 is an attempt to clarify our current telemedicine statutes as they apply to contact lens care. Connecticut eye doctors support it because it is good healthcare policy and will protect patients.

Dr. Brian Lynch, Optometrist, Branford Optometric Associates

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