By Arielle Kane –
Under Gov. Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island is aiming to rebuild its economy — once factory-based — around advanced industries such as biotech and software. With such projects as the Providence Innovation & Design District, the goal is to create good-paying jobs by attracting leading-edge companies to the state.
How odd, then, that the state legislature is considering a bill that would block an important health care innovation that would not only lower costs, but improve care as well. Senate Bill 2404 would dramatically restrict the use of online vision tests, an emerging telemedicine technology that is in use today. That’s bad news for Rhode Island.
The automated procedure allows contact lens wearers to use their home computers and mobile phones to check their vision and take a picture of their eye. The information is sent to a local ophthalmologist, who reviews the results and issues a prescription renewal if appropriate.
The new restrictions in this bill would force contact lens wearers to physically visit an optometrist office more often — perhaps annually — to get their prescription renewed. Because 80 percent of patients leave with the same prescription renewal, this archaic practice can unnecessarily increase health-care costs. Moreover, ophthalmologists, medical doctors who specialize in medical and surgical eye care, recommend vision checks only every 5 to 10 years for those between the ages of 18 and 39 and every 2 to 4 years for those between the ages of 40 and 64 for people not at risk of eye disease.