From: Taylor Tedder, OD – Chief Medical Officer at Visibly
On October 27, 2022, the American Optometric Association (“AOA”) issued a consumer alert concerning the importance of knowing the facts when using direct-to-consumer online vision tests.
We here at Visibly could not agree more on the importance of consumer education. Visibly is a strong proponent of eye health and vision care for all its customers. We welcome the opportunity to raise awareness with consumers, to connect, and to educate on means to reduce friction or barriers to care.
Here are the key issues we collectively face:
- By 2050, myopia will double in prevalence and impact 5 billion people worldwide1
- The United States will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 20302
- By 2030, 1 billion people worldwide will be over the age of 65, and have more complex/chronic conditions for eye care professionals to manage3
- US national health expenditures will be $370 billion higher by 2027 due to the impact of inflation compared to prepandemic projections (McKinsey)4
How Visibly is approaching the future of eyecare:
First, we believe that our tools create awareness around the importance of vision. Vision testing is a proactive, convenient way to screen and monitor for normal or abnormal vision. Visibly’s vision tests are not intended to be a replacement for a comprehensive exam, rather we aim to be adjunctive (supporting) to clinical decision making. Visibly’s Digital Acuity Product (VDAP) application is a singular data input across the care spectrum, intended to be used alongside the patient’s medical history and profile, to aid in the evaluation of how well a patient is seeing at a point in time.5 Our technology enables our partners and providers to connect with their customers and patients in meaningful ways, reducing traditional burdens to care, such as access and cost. We understand some providers may not find this fits their practice. Not all providers use an auto-refractor or retinal camera either. However, similar to those technologies, many of our partners have found Visibly’s technology platform to be a great differentiator and valuable asset for multiple use cases.
Second, we worked hard to get FDA cleared and still are the only one to do so. COVID-19 had a transformational impact across all of healthcare. Patients adopted new ways of thinking about and seeking care. Partners and providers using our technology were crucial in delivering care to thousands who needed it most at a critical time. Recognizing the importance of a long term solution to remote vision testing, we spent several years and made heavy investments in research, development, and clinical trials to achieve 510(k) clearance. We wanted to do this the right way because we believe in everyone having access to affordable and quality care.
Third, we aim for safety in our clinical guidelines and technology roadmap. Visibly’s medical team has developed a list of exclusionary criteria for our prescription renewal platform that screens out nearly 30% of those who sign up before they even start the test. From there, if a user’s test results indicate they do not have normal vision in either eye, they are also referred to a comprehensive eye exam. All in all, less than half of people who sign up on our website receive a renewed prescription using the vision test. We drive the other half of patients into offices every day because we believe in the importance of a regular, comprehensive eye exam to monitor holistic health and wellness.
Fourth, we strive to be transparent in every patient interaction about what our product does and does not do. As the AOA indicated in their alert, we inform every single user that our product is nothing more than a vision test used to assess visual acuity. We make it clear that our product is not a comprehensive eye exam and that it should not be viewed as a replacement to a comprehensive eye exam. We do this because we trust patients to make informed decisions about their vision care and know that they will do so when they have the facts.
Finally, we believe in collaboration. We believe that all industry stakeholders will play a key role in mapping out the future of our industry. As we transition out of the public health emergency, collaboration among medical device developers, professional associations, and providers will be critical to ensure that only properly regulated and authorized devices stay on the market. We need to work together to ensure that consumers and providers are educated on the difference. We know there are many forward-looking providers, leaders, advocates, and consumers who are ready to shape our industry for the future. Only by working together can we promote a healthier population with the broadest reach, greatest affordability, and most successful outcomes.
1 Essilor Luxottica Capital Market Day – September 2019, Fortune Business Insights, and Essilor – Vision Impact Institute