Online refractive eye exam company Opternative has launched a new white-labeled service for eye care professionals (ECPs) called EZRx.
"The digital refraction (EZRx) and visual acuity screener are licensed to each ECP individually and [are] white-labeled to match the ECP's branding and website flow," Pete Horkan, Opternative's head of US government affairs, told MobiHealthNews in an email. "The refraction and acuity screener can be used as a standalone technology on the ECP's website for healthy individuals who qualify, or as a complement to a traditional eye examination experience. The ECP can direct healthy candidates to take a digital refraction [exam], and then pick up their contact lenses and/or glasses from the ECP as soon as the next day."
Horkan says the move was prompted by numerous conversations with optometrists, ophthalmologists, and Opternative's Medical Advisory Board.
Opternative's business up until now has been based on selling online refractive exams to consumers, who can then use the resulting prescriptions to order glasses or contacts from online retailers.
That will continue, but working with providers has some benefits. For one thing, it will allow Opternative to operate in some states where online eye exams are not otherwise allowed, Horkan said. That's because those states allow online exams if they're used as a complement to a comprehensive eye exam.
Aligning with and gaining the support of the provider community is also important to Opternative's public image. The American Optometric Associaton, which represents more than 44,000 eye care professionals and students, has repeatedly and publicly come out against Opternative, lobbying for legislation to ban its technology and agitating for an FDA crackdown.
Opponents of ocular telemedicine worry that the technology will lead to people skipping eye health exams and failing to be diagnosed for potentially sight-threatening conditions, while proponents note that there's a shortage of eye health professionals in some parts of the country and that consumers overall deserve choice and convenience.