Opternative and 1- 800 Contacts: Two wrongs don’t make a right
The recent news in our profession was an announced partnership between Opternative and 1-800-Contacts.1 With InstaRx powered by Opternative, customers can “stay home, eat some ice cream, and get a vision exam” according to the 1-800 Contacts website. The reaction throughout the optometric profession has been what would be expected. Take a look at our recent story.2
What do you expect from a partnership of two companies who have proven by their actions to not give a damn about the eye health of their customers and are out strictly to make a dollar? We’ve known for years that 1-800 will do whatever it takes in an attempt to skirt FDA patient safety device requirements the company sees as a barrier to sales. Opternative is similarly out to provide a service that deliberately misleads the public into thinking they are receiving a comprehensive eye exam when in fact the customer is receiving nothing more than a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, completely oblivious to any underlying ocular pathology. The partnering of these two companies may allow 1-800 to completely circumvent the laws in place to protect the public.
I recommend all optometrists take a look at the “Find a Doctor” page on Opternative’s website. This page allows registered users to enter their ZIP code to view a list of nearby eye doctors, giving users the impression that listed doctors are members of Opternative’s “telehealth team.” The AOA registered a complaint in October 2015 regarding this practice, having noticed a number of doctors on the website “had never sought nor desired inclusion in any Opternative panel.”3