Public Health Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING CONSUMER PROTECTION IN EYE CARE.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Public Health Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill prohibits optometrists and opthlamologists from:
1. issuing an initial or renewal prescription for contact lenses to a patient without having performed an in-person evaluation and eye examination of the patient or
2. using the information obtained from a test using a remote refractive device (such as a phone app or other online application) as the sole basis for issuing an initial or renewal prescription for contact lenses.
The bill generally sets expiration periods for contact lens prescriptions at 1 year for initial prescriptions and 1 to 2 years for renewal prescriptions. Providers can set an expiration period of less than 1 year if earlier re-examination is necessary for specified reasons, as documented by the provider.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Connecticut State Medical Society:
The Connecticut State Medical Society testified in support of the bill, saying that new eye care technology should meet the safety standards of face-to-face service. They added that safeguards must be in place and guided by evidence-based science and that vigilance is essential as these technologies gain a wider acceptance.
Dr. Brian T. Lynch, Connecticut Association of Optometrists:
Dr. Lynch supported the bill, stating that it will enhance transparency for eye care consumers, educate patients to the level of care they are receiving and its limitations, provide patients with the providers identity and access to them, hold these sites to the same standard of care Connecticut eye care providers are held to, and provide patients and the Department of Public Health recourse when those standards are not met.
Ms. Procopio testified in support of the bill after going through an online eye exam and ordering contacts from an online provider herself. She stated that she was shocked that the company did not need proof of her last exam. She added that she questioned the test's accuracy because in the past her prescription has always changed, even just a little bit.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Derek E. Brown, 1-800-CONTACTS:
Mr. Brown testified in opposition of the bill, stating that Connecticut physicians should be able to use their professional judgement to determine which technologies to use for each patient. He added that if there are problems with telemedicine technologies, the best people to address these concerns are the physicians themselves.
Dr. Steven Lee, OD, Chief Scientific Officer & Co-Founder, Opternative:
Dr. Lee testified in opposition to the bill, saying that online eye test systems like Opternative make essential eye care accessible to everyone. According to Vision Council's VisionWatch study, 67 million American adults have not had an eye exam in the last two years due to convenience and cost issues. He added that any legislation should enhance, rather than diminish, consumers' access to telehealth.
The following people testified in opposition to the bill, stating that physicians should maintain the ability to utilize telemedicine tools as they see fit:
Dr. Jack Dodick
Dr. Aimee Edell, M.D.
Dr. Saya Nagori
Reported by: Geoff Simpson, Assistant Clerk