AOA president underscores ongoing patient safety concerns raised by so-called ‘online exams’

AOA president underscores ongoing patient safety concerns raised by so-called ‘online exams’

Steven A. Loomis, O.D., AOA president, is prominently cited in Chicago media aimed at business and consumer audiences this week detailing the potential pitfalls of separating refractive tests from in-person exams by eye care professionals.

"Safeguards must be in place to ensure that patient health and safety are not compromised by claims that in-person care is unnecessary."

Dr. Loomis' and the AOA's expertise was sought by Chicago media in response to an announcement by a start-up named Opternative that stated they were making online testing using a computer and a smartphone available to the public.

In the Chicago Tribune on July 27, Dr. Loomis was quoted as saying, "We are concerned consumers will mistakenly believe that a refractive eye test is a comprehensive eye health examination, which can uncover diseases such as diabetes." He added, "Consumers can be lulled into a false sense of security."

On the same day in Crain's Chicago Business, he said, "Eye exams yield not only eye problems but also health information. If a patient has a drastic change in their vision in six or nine months, it could be a tipoff of diabetes or something else. Last year, optometrists were the first to diagnose diabetes in a quarter-million people."

This is consistent with the 2015 House of Delegates resolution, also cited by the Tribune, stipulating that "the AOA recognizes that technology can help doctors of optometry advance patient care; however, safeguards must be in place to ensure that patient health and safety are not compromised by claims that in-person care is unnecessary, and that care rendered via telehealth technology be held to the same standards as in-person visits."

The AOA is a leading voice in patient safety related to eye health on several fronts. On July 28, AOA President-elect, Andrea P. Thau, O.D., and Sue Primo, O.D., gave testimony to the Institute of Medicine as part of an in-depth study on public health and vision. Stay tuned to aoa.org/news for further updates.

July 29, 2015

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