We’re on a technology bell curve and we’re moving fast. It’s as if humanity has placed a magnifying glass on innovation that’s transforming us into the Jetsons at an alarming rate. Warby Parker, one of America’s favorite start-ups, has certainly been carrying their share of the weight. Just this month, they released a mobile eye exam that can produce a usable prescription (if you’re lucky).
The First Mobile Eye Exam
Right now, the mobile eye exam is being tested in California, New York, Virginia and Florida on existing Warby Parker patients between the ages of 18 and 40. Customers who’ve submitted prescriptions in the past can use the app to confirm that their prescription has not changed. Once the test is submitted, a doctor working with Warby Parker will review the results and update the patient’s RX so he/she can order new glasses without visiting an optometrist.
The test is performed by using a smartphone and PC in tandem. The patient downloads the app, steps back from the computer and completes the test by following the prompts given on the phone. The entire exam takes about 20 minutes, but obviously omits eye pressure tests, corneal scans and other services that must be performed in-office.
Doctors Are Not Amused
Many optometrists are up-in-arms over this new exam. After finishing undergrad, it takes four years to become a doctor of optometry. Students learn to identify, diagnose and treat diseases and issues affecting the visual system, going much deeper than your run-of-the-mill vision prescription. Warby Parker reminds users that their new eye exam is not intended to replace annual trips to the doctor. Even still, there will be many individuals who will see this as an opportunity to save time and money, neglecting the health of two of their most delicate organs in the name of convenience.
From a business perspective, Warby Parker’s new product is a stroke of genius. This exam keeps users at home and away from the company’s competitors. However, virtual healthcare is not a substitute for the real thing. And, the company does have some responsibility for the health of its patients, whether they like it or not. It appears that the AOA (American Optometric Association) will likely be stepping in to protect consumers from eye exam apps, at least until they’re comprehensive enough to alert patients of real health issues.
The Future is Bright for Mobile Health Care
If exam developers are able to produce accurate, disease-identifying mobile tests, they may revolutionize the way we care for our eyes. A mobile test would provide eye care to millions of people across the globe who wouldn’t have access otherwise. These apps could even help traveling doctors render more comprehensive services without their traditional in-office equipment.
The virtual healthcare possibilities are endless! We’re excited to see the helpful and responsible applications mobile exams will have in the next decade, along with the ways our medical organizations will regulate them.
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Lacey earned a B.A. from Baylor University. Sic'em!