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Teleoptometry Tools Redefining the Meaning of ‘Phoning it In’

With about 200 different telehealth models being run today, ECPs have to decide which tools, if any, add value to their services.

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OCULAR TELEHEALTH, WHICH delivers eyecare remotely through medical equipment and telecommunications technology, is a hot-button issue right now. The question of whether it can offer a viable alternative to an in-person comprehensive exam is being intensely debated. What’s driving its progress are rising health care expenses as compared to the lower costs and added convenience it offers to patients.

There are about 200 different telehealth models being run these days in the U.S. and abroad, says Vitor Pamplona, founder of EyeNetra, which enables its customers to build their own telehealth models. And they are all different and generally protective of their own way of doing business. “The beauty of the state of vision care today is that anyone can build their own fully functioning telehealth system, using state-of-the-art tools like EHR-enabled AI-based voice assistants, blockchain storage and crypto vision benefits all the way down to the most basic one-on-one patient coaching approaches,” Pamplona explains. “Software is cheap. Technology is cheap. The field is booming but in a very diverse and decentralized way.”

While some states, such as Indiana and Connecticut, prohibit ocular telehealth, the majority allow it. One of the fastest growing entrants is 20/20NOW, which has completed 78 installations of its Ocular Telehealth Solution and expects to complete 125 by year-end. “Optical retail has always embraced ocular telehealth,” says Chuck Scott, CEO of 20/20NOW. “We are now seeing a trend within private optometry to utilize ocular telehealth within their practice, primarily for practice expansion, revenue improvement and better work/life balance.”

Given an abundance of options, the challenge now facing ECPs is to decide which tools, if any, add value to their services.

Smart Vision Labs

SV One, a handheld, smartphone-based autorefractor.

(212) 796-6124, smartvisionlabs.com

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Digital Optometrics

DigitalOptometrics’ Teleoptometry

Eye Exam (877) 506-0002, digitaloptometrics.com

D-EYE

D-EYE’s Smartphone-based Retinal Imaging System

(401) 473-6323, d-eyecare.com

20/20NOW

Ocular Telehealth Solution

(844) 843-2020, for2020now.com

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RightEye

Tests called Functional Vision EyeQ, Brain Health EyeQ, Reading EyeQ and Sports Vision EyeQ.

(301) 979-7970, righteye.com

EyeNetra

Digital Lensometer

(617) 684-5680, eyenetra.com

Smart Ways To Use Teleoptometry Tools

Joseph Ianni, Swift Eyewear, Massena, NY

The option to find doctors locally was limited so we purchased hardware from DigitalOptometrics to provide eye exams. We book a 30-minute complete eye exam and the system can accommodate walk-ins too. It has proved to be an amazing solution and we’ve carried out hundreds of exams since we went live in January. Our technician carries out pre-tests and then we videoconference in a doctor who looks at the results and can control the phoropter remotely and then sends us a prescription electronically. Our patients love the seamless experience and they’re happy they don’t have to travel to see a doctor.

Brian Chou, OD, Revision Optometry San Diego, CA

These are interesting times as technology impacts the evolution of optometry. Many new forms of teleoptometry are startups and like all startups some will succeed and some will fail and some could even get their technology acquired. The alternative distributors of online glasses and contact lenses are focused on giving prescription renewals online. More ambitious technologies offer digital retinal imaging using AI to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. We used to think autorefractors were a threat and now we see optometrists embracing them in their practices to improve efficiency. 20/20NOW is an enterprising outfit that helps clinics and opticals by giving non-dilated eye exams to patients so they can get a prescription when the doctor is not present. Stanton Optical allows patients in all its offices to videoconference with a remote doctor. So, looking to the future, I do believe there’s an opportunity for ODs to use online screenings to drive patients to use their services.

Ericson Quintanilla, Greenleaf Optical Compton, CA

We use the SV One from Smart Vision Labs to get a prescription for patients who don’t have access to a doctor or the fee to see a doctor. For $40 we give them an eye exam and free readers. Letters from the device are transferred to my laptop, where I add comments and send an email to some doctors in New York. I normally get a prescription back from them within 10 minutes. The patient then buys their glasses and single vision lenses from us. I also work with an online insurance company, Patch, that allows me to use their vision benefits.

 

 

Carol Gilhawley is a contributing writer for INVISION.

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Better Vision

The Growing Market for Supplements that Boost Ocular Heath and Functioning

Most nutraceuticals are sold online or over-the-counter but more and more patients are asking for specific recommendations from their optometrist.

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RESEARCH HAS SHOWN that nutraceuticals or supplements can increase macular pigment optical density and help alleviate headaches and eye fatigue. Based on doctor feedback and increased consumer concerns around vision symptoms from device usage, EyePromise developed Screen Shield Teen, an all-natural zeaxanthin fruit-punch flavored chewable vitamin for children ages 4 and up. As with other ocular supplements, it is meant to be taken in conjunction with a daily multi-vitamin. Most nutraceuticals are sold online or over-the-counter but more and more patients are asking for specific recommendations from their optometrist.

Nordic Naturals Eye Health

ProOmega 2000 eye moisture formula.

(800) 662-2544 nordicnaturalspro.com

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Lipotriad Eye Vitamins

Lipotriad Visionary.

(888) 393-5476, lipotriadvitamins.com

Natural Ophthalmics

Total Ocular Function Spray.

(877) 220-9710, natoph.com

Bausch + Lomb

PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula minigel eye vitamins.

(800) 828-9030, bausch.com

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EyePromise

All-natural vitamin line that includes Screen Shield Pro and Screen Shield Teen.

(866) 833-2800, eyepromise.com

Smart Ways To Sell Nutraceuticals

Dr. Rishi Singh, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland, Clinic, Cleveland, OH

Data overwhelmingly support nutraceuticals for patients with Category 3 age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and category four AMD in one eye. Patients should take vitamins to reduce their conversion to AMD because studies show they can result in a 35-40% reduction over a five-year period which is significant. It’s not hard to persuade patients to buy these because they are on sale everywhere, at stores like Costco and Walmart. We direct them to the right type of vitamin for their eyes and I usually recommend Bausch + Lomb’s Preservision Areds eye vitamin in addition to a senior multivitamin. I suggest they connect with their pharmacist to get the right components for them based on cost and availability.

Dr. Louise Sclafani, Solo Eyecare and Gallery, Chicago and Illinois College of Optometry

Studies have shown that over-the-counter nutraceuticals that contain lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce symptoms like fatigue, contrast sensitivity and glare disability. They can improve visual temporal processing and help build up macular pigments to improve memory and verbal fluency. Since we don’t sell these vitamins in the practice, we recommend patients purchase them online. I suggest they buy the EyePromise family of products. They sell vitamins for geriatrics, sports vision, dry eye and screen time. We don’t yet know the damage of all this screen time on young eyes as many kids suffer from eyestrain, headaches and sleeping problems. I recommend EyePromise’s Screen Shield Teen.

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Better Vision

Artificial Vision Aids Get Tech Heavy

Video projection and artificial intelligence (AI) are some of the features that differentiate devices in the low vision space.

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VIDEO PROJECTION, MAGNIFICATION and artificial intelligence are some of the features that differentiate devices in the low vision space. OrCam has introduced voice commands to its augmented reality (AR) devices, along with Bluetooth connectivity and barcode learning. Startup Ocutrx will launch an AR headset with cameras, sensors, location mapping, character recognition and audible alerts. Low vision specialists caring for patients who need additional help seeing can dispense a variety of aids that allow them to read and do many of the tasks they did before their underlying eye disease developed.

eSight

eSight 3 uses a camera to put video directly in front of a patient’s eyes.

(855) 837-4448, eSightEyewear.com

IrisVision

IrisVision headset combines hardware and software to help low vision patients see.

(855) 449-4536, irisvision.com

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Vispero

ClearView GO (branded Optelec) has a foldable design and rotating camera for near, intermediate and distance viewing.

(727) 803-8000, vispero.com

Ocutech

VES Falcon autofocus bioptic telescope.

(800) 326-6460, ocutech.com

Ocutrx Vision Technologies

Oculenz AR Wear headset, launching mid-year 2020.

(949) 216-5900, oculenz.com

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Eschenbach Optik of America

Vario Digital FHD foldable desktop video magnifier.

(800) 487-5389, eschenbach.com

OrCam

OrCam MyEye 2 reads text, recognizes faces and identifies products.

(800) 713-3741, orcam.com

Smart Ways To Sell Artificial Vision Aids

Dr. Andrew Lindell, Stoughton Eye Care & Eyewear, Stoughton, WI

During a low vision exam, I figure out a patient’s acuity, where their blind spots are, their eye dominance, color vision and contrast to figure out which device will be most successful. All new technologies coming out provide great value to patients. Microsoft has developed a free talking camera app called Seeing AI which includes great features. Eschenbach’s video magnifiers work well and are simple to use, color coded, large and tactile. I like Ocutech’s VES Falcon autofocus which is bioptic and doesn’t interfere with field of view or mobility. For low vision aids in pediatrics, children love anything iPad-based. Some devices like NuEyes and Patriot Viewpoint are wearable video magnifiers great for home use.

Dr. Walter Wittich, University of Montreal’s School of Optometry, Montreal, Quebec

We’ve spent a lot of time researching head mounted devices; they’re getting smaller, lighter and cheaper. There’s no longer a stigma attached, and the advantage for the visually impaired is they’re hands-free. For example, they are perfect for playing the piano. A single camera is mounted onto the glasses which in real-time projects a modified picture to two screens on the inside where the lenses would be. This picture can be pre-programmed to change color or enhance an image. Each device requires an OD to carry out a refraction. Prices start at $500 and there’s really no top limit since cost is connected to what the device can do. A competitive field and moving fast.

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Better Vision

It’s Time to Think About Winterizing Those Eyes

Products that tackle the vision issues associated with cold weather sports and how to sell them.

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WHEN IT COMES TO a winter sport like hockey, patients can buy specialist sports gear for protection. But, for other winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, motocross and mountain biking, patients may prefer to wear a goggle or prescription sunglass in a wrap frame for maximum coverage. These days, lens technologies are so effective they can offer color enhancement on the slopes and highlight moguls in any conditions.

Bollé

Cobalt with polarized TNS lens.

(800) 423-3537, bolle.com

Wiley X

WX Wave Climate Control series with gloss demi/polarized emearald green mirror lens with an amber base.

(800) 776-7842, wileyx.com

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Pyramex

Venture Gear tactical line of ballistic-rated eyewear, the Brevard frame with Forest Gray lens.

(800) 736-8673, pyramexsafety.com

Scott Sports

SCOTT LCG Compact Goggle with light sensitive blue chrome lens.

(800) 292-5874, scott-sports.com

UAB | The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Tinted Helmet Visor

(205) 934-4011, uab.edu

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SPY Optic

SPY Legacy with a gold Spectra lens.

(800) 779-3937, spyoptic.com

SportRx

Prescription snow goggle insert that accommodates corrective lenses.

(888) 831-5817, sportrx.com

Smith Optics

4D MAG Goggle with ChromaPop Sun Red Mirror lens.

(888) 206-2995, smithoptics.com

Smart Ways To Sell Eyewear for Winter Sports

Rob Tavakoli, Sportrx, San Diego, CA

For us, eyewear for winter sports is a growing category. We design and manufacture our own prescription insert that fits into any ski goggle. We sell this complete insert mounted to an Rx lens direct to the consumer or through the 3Os channel. Smith sells an interesting concept with its optical ODS adapter system that fits inside a goggle and most brands manufacture goggles that fit over glasses. I think the Anon M4 Cylindrical goggle is the best. Fogging is constantly an issue for people in the winter, so we recommend putting a good anti-fog coating on an Rx insert. Color enhancing lenses, like ChromaPop from Smith and Prizm from Oakley, work like magic on the snow by offering clarity and contrast to skiers.

Chris Merciez, Envision, Boulder, CO

Our doctors are avid skiers, so they generally talk to the patient about skiing when they’re in the room with them. This is helpful and offers a seamless transition for us to get them what they need. Many of our patients see all types of sports eyewear when they’re on the slopes so they’re already aware of what they want when they come in. We stock all types of brands – Smith goggles, Zeal goggles, Maui Jim and Oakley. Zeal, Bollé and Smith have designed an insert that goes behind the ski goggle and Smith offers a turbo fan option to prevent fogging. If the patient doesn’t want a goggle, then they may like the idea of a prescription sunglass that works for both skiing and regular wear.

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