Opposing View on Online Eye Exams in Georgia

Yesterday, we shared a post with an op-ed by Newt Gingrich on House Bill 775. Today, we offer this contrasting view from Dr. Judson Briggs, President of the Georgia Optometric Association.

To the Editor:

As a doctor of optometry serving patients in Georgia, I was interested to read your story about Newt Gingrich and state legislation dealing with online eye exams.

What your readers may not know is that Mr. Gingrich has partnered with a private equity firm that is working to create a $100 million fund to invest in companies that are disrupting the health care system, whether it is good for the patient or not. The company he promotes is one of those so-called disruptors.

More importantly, during my 30 years in the profession of optometry I have seen many instances where an otherwise healthy person was diagnosed with a previously undiscovered chronic health condition thanks to a comprehensive eye examination.

My fellow optometrists here in Georgia have also shared with me stories of how children with tumors have been saved and strokes in adults have been prevented thanks to comprehensive eye exams.

Eye exams give consumers an important opportunity to have a medical professional review their health status. Bypassing that opportunity, so a remote company such as the one touted by Gingrich can profit, is both callous and irresponsible.

I would never agree to have a heart procedure performed by a doctor who has literally never interacted with me. One has to wonder why Mr. Gingrich would want to make this happen for the people of Georgia.

Also, as a health care professional, I must take issue with the characterization of this software as telemedicine. Equipment used in the practice of appropriate telemedicine is precisely calibrated and is manufactured to exacting standards. This particular application requires a person to take off their shoe to attempt to measure the correct distance from the screen. Also, anyone who has ever purchased a computer can tell you that the image and screen quality varies from device to device. Using such an unreliable tool combined with one’s shoe to measure the appropriate distance for the “exam” to take place as the basis for a clinical diagnosis raises many red flags for me.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) and the Georgia Optometric Association — as authorities on quality care — both actively oppose inferior and outright negligent patient care. There are also simply too many questions about the accuracy of this so-called eye exam app to make it trustworthy and that is why legislators overwhelmingly approved HB 775 this year.

Dr. Judson Briggs, President
Georgia Optometric Association
Dunwoody, Georgia


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