Doctors push to block online vision tests

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Doctors concerned about patient safety are supporting legislation that that would block online vision tests like the ones offered by Opternative.

Users of Opternative.com can take a vision test using their smartphone and a laptop. A doctor in another state gets the results of the test and mails the user a prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Zach Abernathy of Braselton loves technology, so he jumped at the chance to get a prescription for new contacts online using Opternative.com.

The website instructs users how to give themselves an eye exam using a cellphone and laptop.
"It even picked up the astigmatism in my left eye," Abernathy said.

The Chicago-based CEO of Opternative.com, Aaron Dallek, said doctors sign off on the results before prescriptions are sent.

"We review it and make sure the prescription they get is one they will be satisfied with," Dallek said.

Dr. Judson Briggs, president of the Georgia Optometric Association, raised questions about the accuracy of the online exams. His organization supports legislation that blocks online vision tests in Georgia.

The bill requires a patient to visit a medical office, in person, to get a prescription.

Briggs says that's important to screen patients for eye health issues.

"It just makes sense that there's a certain standard of care that has to be met," Briggs said.

Dallek believes banning online vision tests is sending Georgia backwards.

Dallek stands by his service and says customers are pleased with their experience.

"I can't be trusted to just manage my own health care?" Abernathy asked.

Both the House and Senate have passed the bill. Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide to sign the bill into law.

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