House bill regarding online eye care testing and prescriptions passes Senate committee

03/07/2018 04:26 PM

FRANKFORT – A House bill which would require Kentuckians to have real-time visits with an eye doctor if they are getting an eye examination or eye prescription online was passed on Wednesday by the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.

House Bill 191, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, would require doctors to sign off on an exam or prescription in real-time before the patient could get their eye glasses or contact lens from the growing number of online eye care companies.

Specifically, the bill would require someone seeking an online eye exam or prescription to have had an in-person eye exam within the previous 24 months.

Dr. Ben Gaddie, owner of Gaddie Eye Centers in Louisville, says that the stipulation that patients be required to have an in-person examination is for the safety of the consumer.

“For example, I had a patient come in this week that is very near-sited, wears contact lens and came in for an exam, claiming it was a little blurry,” Gaddie said. “When I took the opportunity to dilate and look inside the eye, we found he had a blood in the macula, the center part of the vision, and if we hadn’t referred him to Dr. Thompson, a retina specialist, within 24 hours, that patient would have been blind in that eye.”

Lexington ophthalmologist Dr. Angela Thompson says a comprehensive eye exam with her patients have, in some cases, opened the door to detecting other diseases which would have otherwise gone undiscovered.

“Forty-year-old lady sent to me because she had bleeding in her eye, this lady had long standing diabetes.”

Peter Horkan, who represents Opternative, an online company where consumers get a renewed prescription for contacts or glasses, says this that his company has policies in place in which consumers have to go to an eye doctor to get their first prescription and his company will not fill prescriptions of individuals where other serious diseases are suspected from online testing.

“We have a 33 percent denial on the front side, meaning that people who sign up for this test, and aren’t allowed to go through the test “ Horkan said. “Thirty-three either hear from an ophthalmologist or a representative of an ophthalmologist people that they need to go and have a comprehensive eye exam.”

HB 191 passed on a 6-4 vote with Senators Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, and Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, casting no votes.

The legislation moves on to the full Senate for consideration.


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