By Saya Nagori –

The General Assembly is again considering protectionist legislation that would restrict emerging telehealth technology for Rhode Island’s contact lens and glasses wearers.

House Bill 7608 and its companion Senate Bill 2404 take aim at vision telemedicine tools that solve a simple problem: 79 percent of the time a contact lens user visits an optometrist to renew a prescription, they are reissued the exact same prescription. These trips are costly and time-consuming, causing many patients to wear their lenses beyond the recommended timeframe, one of the leading causes of eye health issues for contact lens wearers.

Now, with today’s mobile technology, patients have the choice to refill their contact lens prescriptions in a more accessible, efficient and cost-effective way. Mobile app platforms like Simple Contacts use technology to administer a basic vision test and anterior segment assessment. The test is recorded and reviewed by a Rhode Island licensed ophthalmologist who can renew the patient’s existing contact lens prescription. The physician cannot change or modify a patient’s prescription, and cannot issue a patient’s very first contact lens prescription.

This is not a replacement for a full eye exam. Instead, it is a way for physicians to treat low-risk, healthy patients in an efficient, safe way. And no physician would ever stake her reputation, license, or the safety of her patient on a questionable technology.

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