Some Indiana legislators want Hoosiers to be able to get a glasses or contacts prescription online.
A telemedicine bill passed year prohibits the practice. Several lawmakers are backing a bill that would remove those restrictions on prescribing vision devices through telemedicine. They say the bill is about increasing access for Hoosiers.
“We all know that we have an access to healthcare services problem in Indiana,” says Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Indianapolis. “So, in some parts, finding a healthcare provider is difficult in rural areas.”
The service Opternative offers online vision screenings. It allows people to get a glasses or contacts prescription after completing a series of tests using a computer and smart phone. Many optometrists oppose the bill and say such services are dangerous.
“As somebody who’s practiced for over 25 years now, taking care of tens of thousands of patients, I think of patient, after patient, after patient that have sat in the chair thinking all they wanted was a pair of glasses or to renew their contact lens prescription and we find something very significant and deal with it,” says Dr. Brad Sutton of the Indianapolis Eye Care Center.
Sutton says optometrists can detect diabetes, high-blood pressure and even tumors during routine exams.
“I don’t know a single practitioner of any type who’s responsible for caring for patients who would provide this as a standalone service,” he says. “It just isn’t something that any of us would do or find appropriate.”
Opternative offers its services in 39 states, but pulled out of some, including Indiana, because of legislation.
South Carolina passed a law banning Opternative from providing prescriptions in the state last year. Now Opternative is suing the state government.