Opternative and 1- 800 Contacts: Two wrongs don’t make a right

August 25, 2016

The recent news in our profession was an announced partnership between Opternative and 1-800-Contacts.1 With InstaRx powered by Opternative, customers can “stay home, eat some ice cream, and get a vision exam” according to the 1-800 Contacts website.

The recent news in our profession was an announced partnership between Opternative and 1-800-Contacts.1 With InstaRx powered by Opternative, customers can “stay home, eat some ice cream, and get a vision exam” according to the 1-800 Contacts website.

The reaction throughout the optometric profession has been what would be expected. Take a look at our recent story.2

Related: 1 800 Contacts now offers Opternative refraction to its customers

What do you expect from a partnership of two companies who have proven by their actions to not give a damn about the eye health of their customers and are out strictly to make a dollar? We’ve known for years that 1-800 will do whatever it takes in an attempt to skirt FDA patient safety device requirements the company sees as a barrier to sales.

Opternative is similarly out to provide a service that deliberately misleads the public into thinking they are receiving a comprehensive eye exam when in fact the customer is receiving nothing more than a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, completely oblivious to any underlying ocular pathology.

The partnering of these two companies may allow 1-800 to completely circumvent the laws in place to protect the public.

I recommend all optometrists take a look at the “Find a Doctor” page on Opternative’s website. This page allows registered users to enter their ZIP code to view a list of nearby eye doctors, giving users the impression that listed doctors are members of Opternative’s “telehealth team.”

The AOA registered a complaint in October 2015 regarding this practice, having noticed a number of doctors on the website “had never sought nor desired inclusion in any Opternative panel.”3

 

The founder of Opternative is on record saying he “remains hopeful that optometrists will someday be willing to partner with Opternative and bring the technology into their own practices.”3 Look, ODs aren’t afraid of disruptive technology. We realize that change is coming and we as a profession have to be willing to adapt to survive.

Yet Opternative’s desire to partner with optometry has been dealt a severe blow by the company’s decision to partner with and be exploited by a company who by its repeated actions put profits above the eye health of the patients we serve.

The moral of an Aesop’s fable is a man is known by the company he keeps. With this agreement, Opternative will be forever linked with 1-800-Contacts and may have torpedoed any intent of working with optometry.

References

1. Graham M. Opternative joins forces with 1-800-Contacts. Chicago Trib. Available at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/bluesky/originals/ct-opternative-1800-contacts-partnership-bsi-20160729-story.html. Accessed 8/4/16.

2. McCarthy C. 1 800 Contacts now offers Opternative refraction to its customers. Opt Times. Available at: http://optometrytimes.modernmedicine.com/optometrytimes/news/1-800-contacts-now-offers-opternative-refraction-its-customers. Accessed 8/4/2016.

3. American Optometric Association. Opternative’s doc locator appears to falsely imply endorsement. Available at: http://www.aoa.org/news/advocacy/aoa-opternatives-doc-locator-appears-to-falsely-imply-endorsement?sso=y. Accessed 8/4/2016.

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