As an optometry student, my first time observing a healthy cornea with a biomicroscope was a breathtaking and humbling experience. How can there be living tissue that is so perfectly transparent? Yet, there it was in its entire splendor staring back at me.
As I observed the cycle of tears spreading across the surface and being replenished with the next blink, I felt as though I was watching a well-choreographed play. My amazement upon seeing this intricate structure continued throughout my clinical practice.
Optometry’s primary role is to help people optimize their visual potential while protecting their ocular health. Our role has been significant with the invention and development of contact lenses.
Decades of experience prescribing contact lenses have shown that they are not generic medical devices. Lenses made from the same material, base curve and diameter by two different manufacturers do not perform the same on human eyes. And, patient compliance with the wear schedule and care regimen is critical for long-term success. There is no substitute for observing lenses on eyes and evaluating the ocular health.
New mobile apps permit consumers to purchase contact lenses prescribed by medical doctors without a physical exam. Wouldn’t it be great if a smartphone could provide a real-time microscopic view of the eye to permit prescribing contact lenses from any location at any time? Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t exist yet.
When mobile devices support services that have some resemblance to those ODs provide in their offices, I will happily embrace them. Meanwhile, I question the ethics of doctors who prescribe contact lenses through a mobile app without examining the patient. It places that individual’s health and welfare at risk for money. Not all revenue is good revenue. Not all profit is good profit.
Richard Clompus, OD, FAAO | Professional Editor | RC@OptometricOffice.com