Eye care bill viewed by some as measure designed to kill off competition

02/21/2018 03:00 PM

The House of Representatives easily passed a measure sold as consumer protection for eye care patients, but those in the online business of prescription contacts and eyeglasses, see House Bill 191 as a measure designed to end their business in the state.

House Bill 191 would force Kentuckians seeking a prescription to visit ophthalmologists and optometrists for a “real-time” consultation, rather than visiting some online retailers who offer similar services and renew prescriptions — with an online exam.

Dr. Saya Nagori, the medical director for Simple Contacts, an online retailer that offers consumers an option to renew their contact lens prescription with a doctor-designed vision assessment on patients’ own time, said the bill would effectively kill their business in Kentucky. The legislation, she said, could also imperil the health of many rural residents who rely on access to online retailers for contacts.

“It’s not that it’s just an automated system, going off into space and being renewed, every patient who comes through the system is being reviewed by a Kentucky licensed ophthalmologist,” she said.

Nagori added that with something as simple as a renewal, for a consumer who had already been fit for contacts by an ophthalmologist and optometrists, is unnecessary and sees the bill as a protection for some businesses in the commonwealth which will limit access for consumers. Most ophthalmologists in the state are against the legislation.

“I think this is protectionism, dressed up as patient safety,” Nagori told Pure Politics.

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