Virtual Optometrist Can Write Prescriptions From The Web
A smart online eye test could help more people see the world clearly.
- 3 march 2014
If it’s getting harder and harder to read the tiny text on your mobile device screen, a new online exam provider hopes to make it easier to get help. Though eye exams, with all their fancy specialized equipment, may seem like the final frontier of services that can be performed in person, a new startup launching this summer aims to change all that, bringing eye exams to underserved people and areas at a nice price. Opternative‘s test takes just five to ten minutes and costs $35, 75% less than in-person consultations.
Online examinations do already exist, but they aren’t medical-grade; their main purpose is to provide lucrative referrals to in-person optometrists. Legally, they are only permitted to give you a result that says “you should go see an eye doctor.” Though the Opternative tests require some setup, involving calibrating the test to your screen size by using a credit card as a measuring tool and even using your shoe size as a way of calculating the precise distances you need to stand from the screen, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine says the experience feels “clever and easy — almost fun.”
Will this remarkable innovation run optometry offices out of business? One of the the co-founders, Dr. Steven Lee, is a practicing optometrist who earned his credentials in 2007, so you can bet that he has a vested interest in making it a win-win situation for both sides of the transaction. He himself was not fascinated with the complexities of the in-office process. “Doing eye testing day in and day out, I thought ‘there has to be a better way to do this,’” he told TechCrunch. Similar services exist in India and Africa, but their tests don’t make the grade for the Western world, and Opternative is the first to bring such solutions to the U.S.
With the help of business partner and seven-time entrepreneur Aaron Dallek, the fledgling business has raised $1,000,0001 in a venture-capital seed round, and once it wins FDA approval, it may one day partner with glasses companies like LensCrafters and Warby Parker for a licensing fee, making your vision solution truly seamless.