American Optometric Association statement regarding CVS launch of QuickRenew
One thing that government agencies, legislators, industry innovators and health care providers, including the American Optometric Association (AOA), agree on is that in-person care is irreplaceable. This year, in the midst of a pandemic that is having a crushing effect on Americans’ collective health and wellness, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released patient care guidance supported by the very clear statement that, "nothing can absolutely replace the gold standard: in-person care."
Which is why it is confounding that CVS today added an online offering, QuickRenew, to the group of existing online vision tests such as Visibly, formerly Opternative, and ExpressExam from 1-800 CONTACTS–none of which have been formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Claiming to be able to renew a contact lens prescription outside of the established doctor-patient relationship, these online vision tests potentially take the place of the annual in-person eye exam and could give patients a false sense of security that their eye health has been thoroughly examined. In addition, the QuickRenew test also does not appear to obtain consent from the user to send their prescription in electronic format as required by the updated Federal Trade Commission Contact Lens Rule.
The AOA, affiliates and doctors of optometry call on CVS to acknowledge that this offering will lower the overall level of eye health care received by the public and that this test places them in the ranks of questionable vision tests apps that have and should continue to be investigated by the FDA. As with the 2019 recall of Opternative/Visibly, the AOA will fight to safeguard public health and patient safety.
Through an examination—the gold standard in eye health—a doctor of optometry is able to assess the health of the eyes and eye tissue, potentially identifying sight-threatening, and maybe overall health threatening diseases, that can be cured or slowed through early diagnosis and treatment.
When patients look to an app for an eyeglass or contact lens prescription, they are receiving a test that does not completely cover any of the components of the in-person exam a doctor of optometry conducts.
Americans have made their concerns known. Other online vision apps have been put to the test and ultimately failed to gain consumer trust. And, in the past few years, federal agencies and states have taken action to protect patient health. In 2019, the FDA announced that the Visibly online test was recalled since the company had not received authorization from FDA to market the product. Today, 25 states have patient protection laws in place to preserve the doctor-patient relationship and ensure that online tests cannot undermine patient care. And attorneys general offices in states, including North Dakota and Georgia, have issued patient warnings to the public regarding these tests.
To ensure responsible and effective use of telemedicine in today’s changing health care landscape–and to protect America’s eye, vision and overall health—the AOA, along with eye health care leaders and organizations, recently issued seminal guidelines to set the path for future care and implementation. The policy puts forward that, “the standard of care for eye, health and vision services must remain the same regardless of whether services are provided in-person, remotely via telehealth, or through any combination thereof.”
The AOA will continue to educate the public, the news media, elected officials and regulators that there is less than meets the eye when it comes to these tests that deliver the opposite of care.
The American Optometric Association is issuing an alert to consumers to stop using the 26 eye drops that were recalled by the FDA.